Jimmy Page Speaks Out on “Stairway” Lawsuit

Midnight Blues

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From Guitar player, a bit of JPJ's testimony:

Jimmy Page and John Paul Jones Debunk Long-Standing "Stairway to Heaven" Myth | GuitarPlayer

led%20zeppelin-2014-dave%20j%20hogan-GettyImages-152459709.jpg


Jimmy Page and John Paul Jones Debunk Long-Standing "Stairway to Heaven" Myth

BY Christopher Scapelliti


June 20, 2016

PHOTO: Dave J. Hogan

"The “Stairway to Heaven” plagiarism trial turned into a Led Zeppelin reunion of sorts on June 16, when bassist John Paul Jones took the stand to testify for the defense.

As his former bandmates Jimmy Page and Robert Plant sat together looking on, Jones told the court that Page never said he was a fan of Spirit, the American group he is accused of copying when he wrote “Stairway to Heaven.” Jones also cast doubt on a now decades-old story about the origins of the song, one that has been recounted numerous times, including by Jones himself.

Page and Plant are being sued for copyright infringement over claims that the opening guitar passage from 1971’s “Stairway to Heaven” borrows from Spirit’s 1968 instrumental track “Taurus,” which was written by Randy California, born Randy Wolfe. The lawsuit was filed by Michael Skidmore, the trustee of Wolfe, who died in 1997 believing his song had been plagiarized.

As a founding member of Led Zeppelin, Jones helped the defense squelch the notion that Page was influenced by “Taurus” or familiar with Spirit’s music.

“Did Mr. Page ever share that he had five albums of Spirit, including one double album?” asked Francis Malofiy, Skidmore’s attorney.

“No,” Jones replied.

Jones also said he could not recall who was responsible for introducing a riff from Spirit’s song “Fresh-Garbage” into an extended medley that Led Zeppelin performed during its 1969 tour. “Fresh-Garbage” is on the same 1968 album that includes “Taurus.”

“I forgot who introduced it—I can’t remember,” Jones testified, according to Rolling Stone. “It was a two-bar bass riff that popped out from somewhere. It was a catchy little riff, had an interesting time thing and it caught my ear. I didn’t know where it was from.”

Like Page, Jones said he could not recall seeing Spirit perform, although Led Zeppelin shared concert dates with the group in the late Sixties.

Curiously, Jones also cast doubt on a nearly 50-year-old story about the origins of “Stairway to Heaven,” in which Page and Plant returned with the beginnings of the song after making a trip to the Bron-Yr-Aur cottage in the Welsh mountains. Page had himself said that version of the event was false while under oath last Thursday.

In court, Malofiy presented an audio recording of 1972 BBC interview in which Jones confirms this version of the events. On the recording, Jones states, “We were all in the country at Headley Grange when [Page and Plant] came back from the Welsh mountains with a guitar intro, verse and maybe more [of ‘Stairway to Heaven’].” (Headley Grange is the British residence where numerous Led Zeppelin albums were composed, rehearsed and recorded in the early to mid Seventies.)

“It sounded like I was guessing,” Jones said on the stand after the recording was played for him. “I was guessing.”

Prior to Jones giving testimony, musicologist Lawrence Ferrara told the court that the musical passage under issue is common and can be found in music dating back more than 300 years.

“That progression, that movement, has been around for 300 years, dating back to the 17th century,” said Ferrara, a music professor at New York University. “In the 20th century, before ‘Taurus,’ a large number of popular musicians, artists and composers also used it.”

Ferrara said the technique—a descending arpeggiated chromatic line—was a “musical building block.”

“It was not something anyone can possibly own,” he said. “It’s not only what they did 300 years ago but what composers of all genres do.”

Ferrara noted several songs that use the technique, including Richard Rodgers and Lorenz Hart’s “My Funny Valentine,” the opening to the Beatles’ 1965 song “Michelle” and the 1967 song “Music to Watch Girls By,” all of which predate “Taurus.”

Ferrara’s testimony was especially compelling when he sat at a piano and performed the sheet music for “Taurus” following by the intro to “Stairway to Heaven” to demonstrate that they sound, in his words, “dramatically different.” He also performed other “prior art” compositions with lines that are similar to “Taurus” and “Stairway to Heaven” to demonstrate that the technique employed is commonplace.

The most compelling moment came when Ferrara performed the first part of “To Catch a Shad,” a public-domain Appalachian folk song recorded by the Modern Folk Quartet in 1963. According to Rolling Stone, “it proved one of the trial’s most startling revelations yet: it was almost impossible to tell them apart—they sounded like the exact same song.”"

[ame]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wxB_pOdIG_Q[/ame]
 

Bill Hicklin

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The "To Catch a Shad" intro is a slam dunk; there's almost no way Wolfe/California's estate can have much of a claim left to "original authorship."

(Incidentally, British cousins, not how that old Appalachian tune is every bit as English-folk as John Barleycorn?)
 

Fritz

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Has the Statute of Limitations already been suggested amongst these Pages?
 

Midnight Blues

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Has the Statute of Limitations already been suggested amongst these Pages?

Yup. In the update from Guitar Player (see post 269), it's mentioned that: “Stairway to Heaven” has earned more than $550 million in royalties since its release in 1971. Those royalties are protected by statute of limitations, though future royalties could be shared if the plaintiff succeeds with the case."


:cheers2:
 

sk8rat

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different media sources are writing the story differently. some casting hope to the led zeppelin side like the one above but most casting doubt that they will win.

the important part is not whether or not we think it is stolen or not but the jury and from the multiple sources I have read (including pro led zeppelin sources) they are saying that the jury seems like they are more sympathetic to the planitiffs :Ohno:
 

DADGAD

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Wouldn't you just love to see Mr. Skidmore put in a room alone with 70's era Peter Grant trying to explain the lawsuit? I would pay to see that!
 

Tone deaf

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I heard some Baroque music in a music class, in high school (so a long time ago) that had the same progression. We discussed the similarities with Stairway, in the class. The Baroque period began around 1600, in Italy, if I recall correctly.
 

Midnight Blues

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Take a look at this update from Guitar Player TD, this is likely the music you're referring to:

Did This 350-Year-Old Song Influence

page-plant-michael-putland-GettyImages-544870793.jpg


Did This 350-Year-Old Song Influence “Stairway to Heaven”?

BY Christopher Scapelliti


June 21, 2016

PHOTO: Michael Putland | Getty Images

"Could a 350-year-old composition bring an end to the “Stairway to Heaven” plagiarism trial?

Attorneys for Jimmy Page and Robert Plant have argued that the distinctive opening guitar passage of “Stairway to Heaven” uses a common progression that has been around for hundreds of years.

In fact, a composition by Italian composer Giovanni Battista Granata uses this same progression—and nearly the same melody heard in “Stairway to Heaven.” The work, “Sonata di Chittarra, e Violino, con il suo Basso Continuo,” was composed in 1659.

The passage, which occurs at the 0:32 mark in the video below, is strikingly similar to the “Stairway to Heaven” intro and has more in common with it than “Taurus,” the 1968 instrumental composition by the group Spirit that Page and Plant are accused of plagiarizing.

Now 357 years old, Granata’s composition is in the public domain and not subject to copyright.

It’s not known if Page and Plant’s attorneys are familiar with the song or if they’ll use it in their defense. On Monday, June 20, they asked Judge R. Gary Klausner to end the trial in favor of their clients, noting that the plaintiff “failed to prove required elements of his claims for direct, contributory and vicarious copyright infringement.”

Peter J. Anderson, Page and Plant’s lead attorney, has also raised questions about who owns “Taurus.” The song was written by Randy California, born Randy Wolfe, who died in 1997. The lawsuit has been brought by Michael Skidmore, who manages Wolfe’s estate.

But Anderson argues that Wolfe assigned the copyright to publishing company Hollenbeck Music, leaving Skidmore no basis on which to sue. Anderson has further argued that “Stairway to Heaven” bears no substantial similarity to “Taurus” and that Skidmore has failed to show damages from the alleged copyright infringement.

Page, for his part, has testified that he never heard “Taurus” until a few years before the trial. Witnesses for the plaintiff did not tell the court they ever saw Page, who composed the music for “Stairway,” at a Spirit concert where the song was performed. Though Page’s extensive record collection includes a copy of Spirit’s 1968 debut album, which contains “Taurus,” the guitarist claims he has never played it, and it’s unknown if the album was in his collection at the time that he wrote “Stairway to Heaven” in 1971.

The trial resumes today.

Below, you can compare “Stairway to Heaven” with the relevant passages from “Sonata di Chittarra, e Violino, con il suo Basso Continuo” (at 0:32) and “Taurus” (at 0:45)."

“Sonata di Chittarra, e Violino, con il suo Basso Continuo”

[ame]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zKpbJ5Kjy2I[/ame]

 

Tone deaf

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Take a look at this update from Guitar Player TD, this is likely the music you're referring to:

Did This 350-Year-Old Song Influence

page-plant-michael-putland-GettyImages-544870793.jpg


Did This 350-Year-Old Song Influence “Stairway to Heaven”?

BY Christopher Scapelliti


June 21, 2016

PHOTO: Michael Putland | Getty Images

"Could a 350-year-old composition bring an end to the “Stairway to Heaven” plagiarism trial?

Attorneys for Jimmy Page and Robert Plant have argued that the distinctive opening guitar passage of “Stairway to Heaven” uses a common progression that has been around for hundreds of years.

In fact, a composition by Italian composer Giovanni Battista Granata uses this same progression—and nearly the same melody heard in “Stairway to Heaven.” The work, “Sonata di Chittarra, e Violino, con il suo Basso Continuo,” was composed in 1659.

The passage, which occurs at the 0:32 mark in the video below, is strikingly similar to the “Stairway to Heaven” intro and has more in common with it than “Taurus,” the 1968 instrumental composition by the group Spirit that Page and Plant are accused of plagiarizing.

Now 357 years old, Granata’s composition is in the public domain and not subject to copyright.

It’s not known if Page and Plant’s attorneys are familiar with the song or if they’ll use it in their defense. On Monday, June 20, they asked Judge R. Gary Klausner to end the trial in favor of their clients, noting that the plaintiff “failed to prove required elements of his claims for direct, contributory and vicarious copyright infringement.”

Peter J. Anderson, Page and Plant’s lead attorney, has also raised questions about who owns “Taurus.” The song was written by Randy California, born Randy Wolfe, who died in 1997. The lawsuit has been brought by Michael Skidmore, who manages Wolfe’s estate.

But Anderson argues that Wolfe assigned the copyright to publishing company Hollenbeck Music, leaving Skidmore no basis on which to sue. Anderson has further argued that “Stairway to Heaven” bears no substantial similarity to “Taurus” and that Skidmore has failed to show damages from the alleged copyright infringement.

Page, for his part, has testified that he never heard “Taurus” until a few years before the trial. Witnesses for the plaintiff did not tell the court they ever saw Page, who composed the music for “Stairway,” at a Spirit concert where the song was performed. Though Page’s extensive record collection includes a copy of Spirit’s 1968 debut album, which contains “Taurus,” the guitarist claims he has never played it, and it’s unknown if the album was in his collection at the time that he wrote “Stairway to Heaven” in 1971.

The trial resumes today.

Below, you can compare “Stairway to Heaven” with the relevant passages from “Sonata di Chittarra, e Violino, con il suo Basso Continuo” (at 0:32) and “Taurus” (at 0:45)."

“Sonata di Chittarra, e Violino, con il suo Basso Continuo”

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zKpbJ5Kjy2I



You are correct that is one of the pieces. There are other examples that have similarities to other parts of the song, too.
 

Midnight Blues

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Update from Guitar Player:

Robert Plant Testifies About Writing

robert%20plant%20jimmy%20page%20dave%20j%20hogan%20GettyImages-152462261.jpg


Robert Plant Testifies About Writing “Stairway to Heaven”

BY Christopher Scapelliti


June 22, 2016

PHOTO: Dave J. Hogan | Getty Images

"Like the final scene in a mystery where all is revealed, Robert Plant provided some of the most illuminating testimony yet in the plagiarism trial over Led Zeppelin’s “Stairway to Heaven.”

The singer took the stand Tuesday, June 21, at the Edward R. Roybal Federal Building and United States Courthouse in Los Angeles, becoming the last surviving member of Led Zeppelin to testify in the trial to determine whether the band plagiarized the 1968 Spirit song “Taurus.”

But unlike his bandmates Jimmy Page and John Paul Jones, Plant was unguarded in his testimony and generous with his recollections, offering insights into the making of “Stairway to Heaven” and Led Zeppelin’s incorporation of another Spirit song into a live medley in their early sets.

Plant recalled for the court how he and Page had worked on “Stairway to Heaven” at Headley Grange, a former poorhouse in Hampshire, England where the band rehearsed and recorded some of their early tracks. His testimony provided a glimpse into the early stages of the song, when Page first played for him its opening passage, a descending arpeggiated chromatic line that the plaintiff, Michael Skidmore, believes is copied from “Taurus.”

“One evening, Jimmy Page and I sat by the fire going over bits and pieces,” Plant said, explaining that he would go off alone to his room with a notepad to develop the melody and lyrics. He testified that he had been working on a couplet of “the natural, old, almost unspoken” culture of the Welsh countryside. “It seemed like a good fit for the song,” he said.

Lead defense attorney Peter Anderson asked him if he recalled the couplet.

“There’s a lady who’s sure all that glitters is gold and she’s buying a stairway to heaven,” Plant replied, alternately talking and singing the lyrics. “When she gets there she knows if the stores are all closed, with a word she can get what she came for.”

With that, he said, the rest of the lyrics started “rolling pretty fast.”

Plant’s recollections are one piece of the puzzle about the song’s origins. The testimony of bassist John Paul Jones is another. On Monday, Jones testified that he misspoke years ago in a BBC interview when he recalled how “Stairway to Heaven” came about. In that 1972 interview, Jones was recorded saying, “We were all in the country at Headley Grange when [Page and Plant] came back from the Welsh mountains with a guitar intro, verse and maybe more [of ‘Stairway to Heaven’].” That story has been repeated in the media throughout the decades, leading fans to believe “Stairway to Heaven” was already underway when Led Zeppelin convened at Headley Grange.

On Friday, June 17, Jones said his recollection had been incorrect, echoing Jimmy Page’s own testimony from days before. “It sounded like I was guessing,” Jones said on the stand after the recording was played for him. “I was guessing.”

Plant also provided some useful explanations of how Led Zeppelin had come to include the guitar riff from Spirit’s 1968 song “Fresh-Garbage” in a medley they performed regularly during their 1969 tour. “Fresh-Garbage” is the first track on Spirit’s debut album, which also includes “Taurus.”

He said the band learned the song not from Spirit’s album but from a 1968 Columbia Records compilation, which he had discovered and brought to Led Zeppelin. (Spirit recorded at the time for Ode Records, which was distributed by Columbia/CBS from 1967 to 1969.) That album was most likely The Rock Machine Turns You On, a bargain-priced sampler album released in numerous countries, including the U.S. and U.K.

Plant testified that he wasn’t familiar with other Spirit songs, including “Taurus.” “I didn’t remember it then, and I don’t remember it now,” he told the court.

He also testified that he did not recall ever seeing Spirit perform. Though the two bands had shared several concert dates, none of the surviving Led Zeppelin members say they ever watched Spirit’s shows. In previous testimony, Spirit’s Mark Andes said Plant had attended a Spirit concert in Birmingham, England, in January 1969. Driving home from the show, Plant’s Jaguar collided with a mini van, leaving him with a lacerated face and broken teeth. He said the accident may in part account for his inability to recall the evening.

“I don’t have a recollection of almost anyone I’ve hung out with,” Plant said, causing the courtroom to burst into laughter.

The trial, which began on June 14, may be winding down. Judge Gary Klausner said he expects the case to go to the jury on Wednesday, June 21."
 

winexprt

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"Other than appearances on the witness stand by Zep members, the most tantalizing moments came from Tim Gardner, a consultant to Zeppelin's business manager, who claimed Page made $615,000 and Plant $532,000 from "Stairway" in the statutory period May 2011 to March 2014. The song remains the same, but the numbers apparently keep evolving."

Robert Plant on Spirit Song in 'Stairway' Trial: 'I Don't Remember It' | Rolling Stone

:wow: :wow: :wow:

That's in just 3 years!!?? Jesus H. Christ...just how much money do these guys have!??
 

sk8rat

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"Other than appearances on the witness stand by Zep members, the most tantalizing moments came from Tim Gardner, a consultant to Zeppelin's business manager, who claimed Page made $615,000 and Plant $532,000 from "Stairway" in the statutory period May 2011 to March 2014. The song remains the same, but the numbers apparently keep evolving."

Robert Plant on Spirit Song in 'Stairway' Trial: 'I Don't Remember It' | Rolling Stone

:wow: :wow: :wow:

That's in just 3 years!!?? Jesus H. Christ...just how much money do these guys have!??

jimmys net worth is reported to be around $170 million give or take and roberts is reported at around $120 million give or take. robert sold off most of his led zeppelin music rights in the 90's for what would now be considered a very small sum iirc so that would account for it being so much less than jimmys.
 

DADGAD

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What's sad is that Bieber is allegedly worth more than Page and Plant but I suspect he won't have that in 10 years while Jimmy and Robert's legacy will live on. No song of Biebers is going to keep cashing in royalties.
 

sk8rat

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What's sad is that Bieber is allegedly worth more than Page and Plant but I suspect he won't have that in 10 years while Jimmy and Robert's legacy will live on. No song of Biebers is going to keep cashing in royalties.

that doesn't matter. him being rich doesn't make them any less rich. they made the bulk of their money in the 70's. had they done the same thing today their net worths would be close to $1billion.

also, how much power they had in the music industry is unsurpassed. no one could negotiate contracts like they did, not even today. even in the midst of the corporate take over of the music industry they called the shots.
 

WholeLottaTone

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Well, the word's in. Zep's in the clear. I guess now we can stop talking about who should win and start talking about who should've won.
 

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