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Led Zeppelin could settle Stairway To Heaven case for $1

Jimmy Page and Robert Plant
Jimmy Page and Robert Plant (Image credit: Getty)

Led Zeppelin’s Jimmy Page and Robert Plant could avoid the looming court case over classic track Stairway To Heaven by paying a $1 settlement and giving a songwriting credit to late Spirit guitarist Randy California.

And the representatives of California’s estate say that future earnings from the credit would be used to provide musical instruments and music lessons for deprived schoolchildren.

The trial is set to begin on May 10 after it was alleged that the opening section of Stairway To Heaven, released in 1971, was based on Spirit track Taurus, released four years earlier.

Page described the claim as “ridiculous” and recently said he’d never heard California’s composition until legal action commenced. Led Zeppelin’s lawyers have argued that California signed away his rights to his work and therefore his estate is not competent to sue them, and also that the musical construction in question is so common that it can’t be protected by law – although District Judge Gary Klausner disagreed.

At a pre-trial hearing this week, attorney Francis Alexander Malofiy, representing California, said: “It’s always been about credit where credit is due.”

If Led Zeppelin agree to the settlement, Malofiy contends that California’s estate would immediately be due a cut of a $60m licensing agreement signed in 2008 that includes Stairway To Heaven. The money would be used by the Randy California Project to encourage musical endeavours in Ventura County, California.

Page and Plant were originally thought to have been required in court for the trial, but it’s now thought that Judge Klausner doesn’t have the authority to make them attend. Bassist John Paul Jones was exempted from the proceedings at an earlier stage.

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Not only is one-time online news editor Martin an established rock journalist and drummer, but he’s also penned several books on music history, including SAHB Story: The Tale of the Sensational Alex Harvey Band (opens in new tab), a band he once managed, and the best-selling Apollo Memories (opens in new tab) about the history of the legendary and infamous Glasgow Apollo. Martin has written for Classic Rock and Prog and at one time had written more articles for Louder than anyone else (we think he's second now). He’s appeared on TV and when not delving intro all things music, can be found travelling along the UK’s vast canal network.