Led Zeppelin singer Robert Plant has given his testimony in the ‘Stairway To Heaven’ trial, saying he denies any conscious recollection of the Spirit song supposedly copied by Zeppelin.
At the Edward R Roybal court in Los Angeles, Plant admitted seeing Spirit in concert in Birmingham in 1969 and that the band’s song ‘Fresh Garbage’ was the only rock song Zeppelin covered, having performed it at their early concerts in 1968.
Plant was in a car accident on the way back from Spirit’s show at Birmingham club Mother’s, and said his lack of memory can be partially attributed to the crash.
Following surviving bandmates Jimmy Page and John Paul Jones, Plant was the last Led Zeppelin member to give evidence about the genesis of ‘Stairway To Heaven’, which was released in 1971, three years after Spirit’s song ‘Taurus’.
Plant recalled how ‘Stairway To Heaven’ was written at stately home Headley Grange in Hampshire. He said: “One evening, Jimmy Page and I sat by the fire, going over bits and pieces.” He recalled leaving the rest of the band to work on the song while he went to his bedroom to write the song’s lyrics, which he told the court were based on Celtic mythology and “The pastoral areas of Britain I love.”
The court case centres on the intro of ‘Stairway To Heaven’, which was allegedly copied from ‘Taurus’ in a case brought by the estate of Spirit’s late guitarist Randy California. Plant was asked to sing the intro to ‘Stairway To Heaven’, but instead half-sang and half-spoke its opening verse with apparent embarrassment at being asked to perform a song he has largely distanced himself from.
Judge Gary Klausner said the case is likely to go to the jury today (June 22). Previously in the trial, Page talked the jury through the evolution of ‘Stairway To Heaven’ via four demo tapes in which he can be heard teaching Jones its music.