‘Stairway’ Trial Focuses on Placing Robert Plant at Pub in 1970

  • Led Zeppelin singer didn’t recall seeing Spirit perform live
  • Spirit bassist, fan both place Plant at gig in Birmingham club

Robert Plant’s presence at a 1970 gig by the band Spirit in the U.K. became the focus of the trial over whether he and fellow Led Zeppelin member Jimmy Page stole the opening riff of "Stairway to Heaven" from a Spirit song.

Former Spirit bassist Mark Andes testified Wednesday that he hung out with Plant after the show at Birmingham’s Mothers Club in January 1970, drinking and playing snooker.

“We had a blast,” Andes told jurors in Los Angeles federal court under questioning by Francis Malofiy, the lawyer for the trust of the late Spirit guitarist Randy California. The trust is seeking a songwriting credit for California and potentially millions of dollars in royalties.

Malofiy is trying to convince the jury that Page and Plant knew Spirit’s song “Taurus,” which he alleges is the basis for the famous opening of “Stairway to Heaven.”

Plant said in a Feb. 23 court declaration that he has no recollection of seeing Spirit perform at Mothers that night and that Andes’s recollection is impossible because pubs in England would have been closed by the time the Spirit show ended.

“On January 31, 1970, I had a car accident returning from Mothers with my
wife,” Plant said in his declaration. “She had been with me at the club and we were returning home together, having spent the evening with friends at the bar.”

Jurors were also played the videotaped deposition of an English Spirit fan who testified that he had seen Plant at the club watching Spirit perform.

The case is Skidmore v. Led Zeppelin, 15-cv-03462, U.S. District Court, Central District of California (Los Angeles).

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