Led Zeppelin frontman Robert Plant testified in a Los Angeles federal court on Tuesday as part of a copyright infringement lawsuit over the band's 1971 signature song, “Stairway To Heaven.”
Rolling Stone reports Plant reconfirmed statements made earlier in the trial by both Jimmy Page and John Paul Jones that the song’s origins began at the country estate Headley Grange and not the Welsh cottage Bron-Yr-Aur, contradicting decades of Zeppelin mythology.
"One evening, Jimmy Page and I sat by the fire going over bits and pieces," Plant testified, explaining how he would leave the musicians and go into his room to build the melody and lyric based on his fascination with Celtic lore, "the mountains of Wales, Snowdonia ... and the pastoral areas of Britain I love."
The singer also revealed that he first brought Spirit's work to the rest of his bandmates, having discovered their song "Fresh-Garbage" on a 1968 Columbia Records compilation and then incorporating a cover of it into Zeppelin's early live sets.
Regarding “Taurus” – the Spirit instrumental that Zeppelin are accused of plagiarizing as the basis for the trial – Plant said, "I didn't remember it then, and I don't remember it now."
As the defense continued, Page retook the stand to describe how the band worked together to build “Stairway” through its various stages during rehearsals Headley Grange.
In an effort to rebut earlier testimony from an economist who claimed the band had made almost $60 million dollars in the past five years from the song, Zeppelin attorney Peter Anderson questioned British accountant and group associate Tim Gardner over the figures, with Gardner stating that Page made $615,000 and Plant $532,000 from "Stairway" in the statutory period May 2011 to March 2014.
Infringement cases can proceed decades after the original release of a protected work, but the period subject to damage awards is limited to three years before release of the latest iteration of the work in question.
The much larger amount offered up by the economist, Gardner said, was misleading because it included payments for all 87 songs in Zeppelin's music catalog, among other reasons. A chief financial officer from Rhino Records reconfirmed Gardner’s figures from his own books.
Zeppelin rested their defense in the case by day’s end, with Judge Gary Klausner indicating that he expected the case would likely go to the jury on Wednesday.
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