Led Zeppelin singer Robert Plant doesn't remember seeing Spirit perform at UK club, according to his testimony on the stand in court in Los Angeles on Tuesday morning. His band is accused of ripping off a riff of Spirit's "Taurus" for "Stairway to Heaven" and Plant's presence at the show is allegedly proof of access.
But Plant says he visited that club, Mother's in Birmingham, 40 to 50 times in the late '60s and early '70s. He described it as a clubhouse for local musicians to hang out, adding that other country clubs drew older crowds who only wanted to talk about plowing and horses. Plant says they hung out in the bar because it would've been rude to talk where the performers could see you and says he doesn't recall seeing Spirit play.
Spirit bassist Mark Andes says he met Plant at the show and played snooker with him afterward -- but Plant has no memory of it. "I don't have a recollection of mostly anybody I've hung out with," he said, adding that in all the "hubbub and chaos" how would someone be expected to remember one guy he hasn't seen in 40 years.
Plant's attorney Peter Anderson asked the vocalist if he could read or write music -- he can't. "I haven't learned yet," Plant said, laughing.
This was presumably to show that even if Plant had heard "Taurus," he wouldn't have been able to transcribe what he heard and give it to guitarist Jimmy Page. Plant recalls the beginning of "Stairway" as just a couplet he had thought of that fit well with music Page had begun to write.
"It was quite a thing," Plant said, to "see it develop into something I couldn't imagine."
Francis Malofiy, the attorney representing the heir of the Spirit songwriter who is suing Led Zeppelin, pushed Page on his memory during cross examination. The rocker reminded the attorney that he and his wife were in a car crash that night leaving Mother's and they were both hospitalized with head injuries.
Malofiy also asked Plant about Zeppelin's early days playing cover songs and the singer's blunt response sparked a roar of laughter in the courtroom. "I don't find it a problem," Plant said. "I hear you going on about it alot."
Earlier in the morning, one of Led Zeppelin's accountants estimated that Page has earned $615,000 in "Stairway" royalties since 2011 and Plant has earned $532,000, before taxes. That's a far cry from the millions Malofiy's expert estimated on Friday. Page took the stand for a second time right be fore the lunch recess and will continue to testify this afternoon. It remains to be seen if Anderson will remind the court of his motion to have the judge ruled on the case as a matter of law when he rests.
This article was first published by The Hollywood Reporter.