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Led Zeppelin's Robert Plant testifies in 'Stairway' copyright suit

By
Yvette C. Hammett
Led Zeppelin guitarist Jimmy Page attends The Brit Awards 2015 in London in 2015. He and Led Zeppelin front man Robert Plant are on trial, accused of stealing the opening guitar lyrics for Stairway to Heaven from a 1960s acoustic number by rock band Spirit. Plant testified Tuesday. File Photo by Paul Treadway/UPI
Led Zeppelin guitarist Jimmy Page attends The Brit Awards 2015 in London in 2015. He and Led Zeppelin front man Robert Plant are on trial, accused of stealing the opening guitar lyrics for "Stairway to Heaven" from a 1960s acoustic number by rock band Spirit. Plant testified Tuesday. File Photo by Paul Treadway/UPI | License Photo

LOS ANGELES, June 22 (UPI) -- Led Zeppelin front man Robert Plant took the witness stand Tuesday to defend how the band's iconic song "Stairway to Heaven" was created in the early 1970s.

Plant recounted how guitarist Jimmy Page had played for him the opening notes of the eight-minute mega rock hit before he began to find lyrics to match the music, the Los Angeles Times reported.

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Page and Plant are the targets of a lawsuit brought by the trustees of a member of the band Spirit, who claim Led Zeppelin stole the 1971 song's opening guitar cords from Spirit's 1967 instrumental track "Taurus." The suit asks for just $1, and for Spirit to get credit for that song opening.

Plant's testimony is considered an important element in the defense.

Plant, wearing his long hair back in a pony tail, spoke softly during testimony, saying he and Page sat by a fire 45 years ago in a recording retreat where Page played the opening of what would become one of Led Zeppelin's greatest hits.

He said he was working on a lyrical couplet reminiscent of the culture and mystique of the Welsh countryside, then recounted the lyrics.

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"There's a lady who knows all that glitters is gold and she's buying a stairway to heaven," Plant said in testimony. "When she gets there she knows if the stores are all closed, with a word she can get what she came for."

Page testified last week. describing how he worked to create a song building from an acoustic base leading in to Plant's vocals.

Closing arguments take place Wednesday, then the case is handed to the jury.

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