Friday 30 September 2016

'Copied' song was played at Led Zeppelin's first US music festival, court told

Published 15/06/2016 | 01:51

Jimmy Page and Robert Plant are accused of
Jimmy Page and Robert Plant are accused of "lifting" the introduction of Stairway To Heaven from a track by American rock band Spirit (AP)

The song allegedly copied by members of Led Zeppelin when they wrote Stairway To Heaven was played at the band's first music festival in America, a court has heard.

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Singer Robert Plant and guitarist Jimmy Page are accused of "lifting" the opening guitar riff of their classic 1971 hit from an instrumental track called Taurus by American rock band Spirit.

A lawsuit has been filed by Michael Skidmore, the trustee of Spirit guitarist Randy Wolfe, who drowned in 1997 having never taken legal action over the song.

Wolfe's former bandmate Mark Andes told a federal court in Los Angeles that Spirit featured on the same bill as Led Zeppelin when the British group played their first US gig in Denver, Colorado, in December 1968.

He said Spirit also played at music festivals in Texas, Atlanta, North California and Seattle where Led Zeppelin also featured on the bill.

Mr Skidmore's lawyer Francis Malofiy asked Mr Andes: "Do you have a memory of whether Taurus was played in Denver?"

Mr Andes replied: "It's my recollection that we did."

The court was played videos of Stairway to Heaven and Taurus being performed on an acoustic guitar.

Mr Malofiy asked: "Do they sound the same to you?"

Mr Andes replied: "They do."

The musician told the court that Spirit played a gig in the UK at Mothers club in Birmingham in 1970, which Plant attended.

"I just remember it being a small club. Packed," Mr Andes said.

"I think we had a great show."

Mr Andes said he and other members of Spirit went to a pub with Plant afterwards and played snooker.

He said he was "shocked" to read a report in Rolling Stone magazine which said Plant had been involved in a car accident after leaving the Mothers club concert.

Mr Andes said his bandmate Wolfe - nicknamed Randy California by his friend Jimi Hendrix - was a "child prodigy" who he sought out to join Spirit when he was 17.

He added that Taurus was important to Wolfe because the song was written for his girlfriend Robin.

The copyright infringement trial is taking place before a jury at the US federal court, where Plant, Page and their bandmate John Paul Jones are expected to give evidence.

Page, 72, and Plant, 67, have attended the trial and sat next to each in court during the hearing.

Their lawyer Peter Anderson previously told a court that Stairway To Heaven "was written by Jimmy Page and Robert Plant and them alone. Period."

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