Led Zeppelin bandmates Robert Plant and Jimmy Page will show their faces at the “Stairway to Heaven” plagiarism trial that has been plaguing the iconic rock band. According to the Hollywood Reporter, the English rock stars told the court they will appear in person for the trial that will decide whether they plagiarized “Stairway to Heaven” from chords written by Spirit’s Randy California.
Attorneys for the Led Zeppelin lawsuit argued over the lengthy wait to see if Plant and Page would attend the trial, with the lawyers for Randy California’s estate arguing that the classic rock duo’s “refusal to specify if they will appear is causing havoc.” Plant and Page previously taped depositions for the trial, but the plaintiff argues that they wouldn’t need as much taped testimony if they knew whether or not the Led Zeppelin legends would be attending the trial in person.
“This uncertainty is extremely costly, as Plaintiff also has to edit hours of video deposition testimony,” the motion read.
Lawyers for Plant and Page maintain that the Led Zeppelin rockers were always planning to attend the trial. The only issue has been that they cannot guarantee the day they will arrive in the U.S. because they will be traveling from England.
In an email to the plaintiff’s attorney, Francis Malofiy, Led Zeppelin’s attorneys wrote, “We have previously made it clear that Messrs. Page and Plant will attend the trial, but with them coming from England we cannot guarantee the day they will arrive.”
According to the Wrap, Malofiy filed a motion accusing the Led Zeppelin co-founders of stalling and “trying to dictate the court’s schedule” as they treat the plagiarism trial like it’s an optional concert gig.
“Jimmy Page and Robert Plant, with the aid of defense counsel, want to dictate the court’s schedule. The lack of common courtesy from defense counsel is, frankly, astonishing. Defendants are acting as if this is a concert where their celebrity status allows them to decide when they will appear.”
Malofiy represents Michael Skidmore, who is a trustee for late Spirit frontman Randy “California” Wolfe, who wrote the Spirit song “Taurus.” Skidmore contends that Zeppelin’s 1971 song “Stairway to Heaven” plagiarized the 1967 Spirit instrumental. Spirit toured with Led Zeppelin in the late 1960s, and “Taurus” was very much a part of Spirit’s set list at the time. In addition, Randy California once said he hung out with Led Zeppelin on the European festival circuit and noted that Page and Plant took his riff for their signature song.
The Led Zeppelin copyright lawsuit has been on Spirit’s back burner for decades. California’s surviving bandmates previously neglected to take action against Led Zeppelin due to financial reasons, but years later, lawyers for Wolfe’s estate are now suing Zeppelin, Jimmy Page, Robert Plant, Super Hype Publishing Inc., and Warner Music Group for copyright infringement over the iconic “Stairway” opening riff.
While the Led Zeppelin lawsuit is getting nasty before the trial even starts, all the plaintiff really wants is for Led Zeppelin to give credit to the late Sprit songwriter. According to Bloomberg, the Led Zeppelin suit could be settled for $1 if Led Zeppelin founders Robert Plant and Jimmy Page would just give “Stairway” songwriting credit to Randy “California” Wolfe.
Led Zeppelin has already had a few pre-trial victories. According to Billboard, a judge ruled that jurors will not hear testimony regarding the Led Zeppelin bandmates’ wealth, past drug use, or previous copyright infringement settlements. Led Zeppelin has a history of copyright cases that were settled out of court, including a suit involving their 1969 song “Whole Lotta Love,” which was later amended to include a co-credit for blues legend Willie Dixon.
For the upcoming Led Zeppelin trial, the judge has ruled that all evidence in the high-profile case must deal only with the copyright of “Taurus” and will be limited to what was deposited with the Copyright Office in 1967.
The Led Zeppelin trial will kick off on June 14 in Los Angeles federal court. While Robert Plant and Jimmy Page will now testify at the trial, fellow Led Zeppelin band member John Paul Jones has been excluded from the case.
Watch the video below to hear the similarities between Led Zeppelin’s “Stairway to Heaven” and Spirit’s “Taurus.”
[Photo by Evening Standard/Getty Images]