By Robyn Collins
Robert Plant will not appear at the Meltdown Festival because he is due to appear in court for the trial between the estate of Spirit’s late songwriter Randy California and Led Zeppelin over the song “Stairway To Heaven,” which, according to the suit, ripped off Spirit’s “Taurus.”
Plant was scheduled to rock London’s Royal Festival Hall on June 19 as part of The Ship We’re In, a benefit to raise money for The British Red Cross’ refugee awareness campaign. The show was part of Meltdown, which is being curated this year by Elbow singer Guy Garvey.
“It is with great disappointment that Robert must cancel his appearance. Robert has been enthusiastic to help in any way to the increased awareness and support of so many powerless and distraught peoples. Therefore the opportunity afforded at Guy Garvey’s Meltdown was an event that Robert was passionately drawn to,” Plant’s representatives said in a statement.
The “Stairway to Heaven” trial was originally scheduled to begin May 10, but was been moved to June 14 after Led Zepplin’s lawyer argued that Spirit’s legal team was trying to “taint the jury pool” by erroneously claiming that the members of the band were unwilling to attend the court case and don’t take it seriously.
The case was filed by Michael Skidmore, a trustee of the estate of Spirit’s late songwriter, guitarist Randy California. In April, Judge Gary Klausner ruled “Stairway to Heaven” and “Taurus” were similar enough for Skidmore’s claim to go forward. Skidmore has said that guitarist Jimmy Page may have been inspired by Spirit after they performed with Zeppelin at shows in 1968 and 1969.
Zeppelin’s lawyer Peter Anderson confirmed that all three surviving members of the band – Plant, Jimmy Page and bassist John Paul Jones – will attend proceedings.