Thursday, June 16, 2016

Led Zeppelin Is In a Brutal Court Battle Over 'Stairway To Heaven'

If you didn't really remember that Led Zeppelin was getting sued by an old psychedelic rock band about the rights to Stairway to Heaven, you're not alone. I had completely forgotten too (just like people forgot about that other band, BURN). I'm not going to name that other band, and that is purely a spiteful, disrespectful move.

But the lawsuit is happening, and it's currently in the court procedure phase. The big story today was the testimony of guitarist Jimmy Page. Here's what I can find online about what he said on the stand (via Rolling Stone):

Jimmy Page Doesn't Do The Internet

The lawyers were grilling him on his extensive music collection (more than 10,000 LPs and CDs) and trying to prove that he was familiar with the psych rock band's song that was allegedly stolen. Page admitted to knowing of the band, but denied knowing that song.

In fact, he said he just learned about that song a few years ago, via the internet. Or, I guess more accurately, via his step-son:
'Something appeared on the Internet - there was a buzz going on in the comparison [between "Taurus" and "Stairway"] a few years ago. My son-in-law brought it up; I don't do the Internet, so he played it for me."
Is there a more old guy rock and roll superstar move than just straight up ignoring the internet?

Stairway Was Not Written Where People Thought It Was

I did not know this story, but apparently the historical legend of Stairway says it was written at Bron-Yr-Aur, a cottage in Wales that has a track on Physical Graffiti named for it. I jumped into the Wikipedia page for the cottage (no joke there are a full 8 paragraphs plus pictures) and here's what I found:

  • The cottage was Robert Plant's family vacation home
  • Page, Plant, their significant others, Plant's kid, and two roadies stayed there in 1970
  • The house didn't have running water or electricity
  • It's never actually mentioned, but I'm assuming they all did a fuck-ton of drugs
  • Jimmy Page did sex at least once during that vacation and his daughter was conceived
  • There are more than a handful of songs that were written at Bron-Yr-Aur, but only one more famous than this one:

That more famous one, of course, would be Stairway To Heaven. That was Bron-Yr-Aur's claim to fame. These guys and girls got so fucked on drugs at a cottage in the Welsh mountains that they all though they were dying (or something, I'm still a little unclear on the meaning of the song).

And today, Jimmy Page tore the cottage's prize possession from its Wikipedia page.

Stairway, it turns out, was actually written at Headley Grange. If you thought Bron-Yr-Aur's story was cool, wait until you learn about Headley Grange:

  • It was built in 1795 and originally used as basically an internment camp for the poor
  • There were some pretty sweet riots in 1830, which makes sense because of the internment camp thing
  • A builder named Thomas Kemp bought it in 1870 for the nice price of ‎£420 and turned it into his house
  • Quick side note: How fucked up do you have to be to buy a building that housed (and abused) a bunch of poor people and turn it into your house?
  • It was passed around from various members or various families for nearly a century
  • By the 1960s and 1970s, it had been converted into a music studio, as the drawing room had peak acoustic conditions
  • In addition to Led Zeppelin, bands that have worked at Headley Grange include Fleetwood Mac, Bad Company, Genesis, and Peter Frampton
  • The Headley Grange track list includes Stairway, Black Dog (there was literally just a dog that ran around the estate), When The Levee Breaks, and I'm sure dozens more

Let's be honest, this Headley Grange/Bron-Yr-Aur news is largely just the correction of a decades-old story that doesn't really actually mean all that much. This whole trial is pretty goddamn boring. Page and Plant are both rich as shit, and they're always going to be rich as shit.

The only possible way this trial could end up being noteworthy is if this psych rock band (and the British justice system) somehow put them in an emotional or financial position to start touring again.

Rolling Stone News Headline Of My Dreams: Page, Plant, Jones, Bonham Announce 'Fuck Your Psychadelic Rock Band' Tour

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