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Led Zeppelin's Long Stairway to Trial

Bickering in a copyright clash over the iconic ballad extends to tour dates, accounting aptitude, and remembering the 1960s.
Robert Plant and Jimmy Page of Led Zeppelin, January 1975.

Robert Plant and Jimmy Page of Led Zeppelin, January 1975.

Photographer: Laurance Ratner/WireImage via Getty Images

The surviving members of Led Zeppelin have said some of their memories of the 1960s are a bit fuzzy. Now they're unable to answer questions about the millions of dollars they made in the 1970s: "These musicians are not accountants," lawyers for the band proclaim in their latest court filing.

Well that's just fine, responds an attorney suing them for allegedly stealing a dead rocker's song and using it to write the totemic Stairway to Heaven. Francis Alexander Malofiy, representing the late musician's trust, asked to delay a Los Angeles copyright trial from May to July, in part so he could have more time to reconstruct the band's finances from thousands of documents.

Hold on, says lead singer Robert Plant. The 67-year-old front-man says he turned down concert dates in expectation of the May trial, and the later date would conflict with a European tour. Let's get this over with, the band seems to be saying.  

This is the latest bit of bickering in an almost two-year battle that's seen clashes over music experts, multi-track tapes, and even where to hold the trial. The case stems from what, to some ears, is a similarity between Stairway and Taurus, an instrumental piece on the 1968 debut album of the band Spirit. Malofiy alleges the opening notes of Stairway, released in 1971 on Led Zeppelin IV, were lifted from it.