Plant expresses ‘great disappointment’ at missing Guy Garvey’s London festival

Robert Plant has had to cancel his appearance at Meltdown Festival in the ongoing court case surrounding the writing of Led Zeppelin’s classic song ‘Stairway To Heaven’.

Plant was due to appear at London’s Royal Festival Hall on June 19 as part of a benefit show, The Ship We’re In, to raise money for The British Red Cross’ refugee awareness campaign. The show was part of Meltdown, which this year is curated by Elbow singer Guy Garvey.

A statement sent by Plant’s press representatives said: “It is with great disappointment that Robert must cancel his appearance. Robert has been enthusiastic to help in any way to the increased awareness and support of so many powerless and distraught peoples. Therefore the opportunity afforded at Guy Garvey’s Meltdown was an event that Robert was passionately drawn to.”

Plant and Led Zeppelin bandmate Jimmy Page are due to face trial in Los Angeles in June over claims that their 1971 song ‘Stairway To Heaven’ copies the opening chords from Spirit’s 1967 song ‘Taurus’.

The case was due to begin on May 10, but has now been moved to June 14. It has been brought by Michael Skidmore, a trustee of the estate of Spirit’s late songwriter, guitarist Randy California.

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In April, judge Gary Klausner ruled the two songs were similar enough for Skidmore’s claim to go ahead. Skidmore said that Led Zeppelin guitarist Jimmy Page may have been inspired by Spirit after they performed with Zeppelin at shows in 1968 and 1969.

The case was delayed to June amid claims by Led Zepplin’s lawyer that Spirit’s legal team are trying to “taint the jury pool” by claiming that the members of Led Zeppelin are unwilling to attend the court case and don’t take Skidmore’s claims seriously enough.

Zeppelin lawyer Peter Anderson said that all three surviving members of the band – Plant, Page and bassist John Paul Jones – will attend proceedings. If they appear together, it will be the first time the band will have been seen together since a 2012 press conference for ‘Celebration Day’, the live album from their 2007 reunion concert at London’s O2 Arena.

‘The Ship We’re In’ has been cancelled, but a statement said ticket holders will be invited to a free show at the smaller Clore Ballroom inside the Royal Festival Hall, where acts will be chosen by Garvey.

Plant has covered Elbow’s song ‘The Blanket Of Night’ for ‘The Long Road’, a compilation raising money for The Red Cross’ campaign. ‘The Long Road’ also features Tinariwen, Scroobius Pip and Kindness.

Plant said: “I’m proud to contribute towards ‘The Long Road’. ‘Blanket Of Night’ is a spellbinding and remarkable succinct piece of music.”