JIMMY PAGE Finishes Second Day Of Testimony In 'Stairway To Heaven' Lawsuit
According to The Pulse Of Radio, Jimmy Page finished his second and final day of testimony in the lawsuit over the ownership of “Stairway To Heaven”. Page and Robert Plant are being sued by Michael Skidmore, the trustee of the Randy Craig Wolfe Trust, on behalf of the late SPIRIT guitarist who wrote “Taurus” and performed under the name Randy California. The trust is hoping to not only win a monetary judgment, but also secure a writing credit for California on “Stairway To Heaven”.
Rolling Stone reported during his examination by the plaintiff’s attorney, Francis Malofiy, Page was pressed about the fact that his claim that he had never heard SPIRIT‘s 1968 self-titled album, which features “Taurus”. Page explained that he owns “4,329 LP’s and 5,882 CD’s” and admitted, “To be honest, I could’ve bought [the SPIRIT album] or been given it… I have several thousand albums of many different kinds. They include albums I purchased, albums people gave me and albums that were simply left at my home. Also, like a book collector who never gets around to reading books they collect, I have never listened to many of the albums.”
Page added that it wasn’t until recently that he first heard “Taurus”. “Something appeared on the Internet — there was a buzz going on in the comparison [between ‘Taurus’ and ‘Stairway’] a few years ago,” he said. “My son-in-law brought it up; I don’t do the Internet, so he played it for me. When I heard the orchestral part at the beginning, I knew I’d never heard it before… When it started, I was confused by the comparison… [I thought] ‘What’s this got to do with ‘Stairway’?”
The main snag in Page‘s story is the fact that the lead track from the SPIRIT album, “Fresh Garbage”, was not only featured in ZEPPELIN‘s set in 1969 as part of a larger medley, dubbed “As Long As I Have You”, but that ZEPPELIN even performed the tune on December 26, 1968, the night of ZEPPELIN‘s first U.S. gig in which they shared the bill with SPIRIT and VANILLA FUDGE.
Page explained that the band did not stick around to see SPIRIT‘s set that night, and instead headed directly to their next gig in Seattle. He claimed that he wasn’t even aware that SPIRIT was on the bill, saying: “I didn’t think I was opening for SPIRIT; I thought I was opening for VANILLA FUDGE. I was excited about opening for VANILLA FUDGE because I was a big fan of theirs.”
Page and Plant are arguing that the Randy Craig Wolfe Trust doesn’t have the legal right to sue them for anything by claiming that the late Randy California didn’t even hold the copyright for the song. The Hollywood Reporter posted, “LED ZEPPELIN argues that ‘Taurus’ was a ‘work for hire,’ meaning Wolfe himself never enjoyed copyright to his song. The basis here is that in 1967, Wolfe entered into a recording contract with Ode Records and a songwriter contract with its affiliate Hollenbeck Music, where it was agreed that Wolfe was a “writer for hire… with full rights of copyright renewal vested in [Hollenbeck].”
Tim English is an expert on musical plagiarism and the author of the brand new 2016 edition of “Sounds Like Teen Spirit: Stolen Melodies, Ripped-off Riffs, And The Secret History Of Rock And Roll”. The Pulse Of Radio asked him what he makes of the case of “Stairway” vs. “Taurus”. “I think that it’s a fairly distinct similarity on the one hand; but on the other hand, ‘Stairway To Heaven’ goes [on] for around eight minutes,” he said. “This is, at the very top, I’d say a quarter of the song that we’re talking about here. So, even if we were going to say that they violated the copyright of the SPIRIT song ‘Taurus’ in creating it, you’d still be talking about only a percentage of the total work of ‘Stairway To Heaven’.”