Well, Led Zeppelin’s first three albums have finally gotten remastered and they’ll be released next month, and, presumably, the other five should follow soon. And, of course, the question has come up yet again: will they do more concerts like the one they did at the O2 in 2007? Well, it looks like Jimmy Page wants to, but Robert Plant isn’t so willing.
Jimmy Page told the New York Times: “I was told last year that Robert Plant said he is doing nothing in 2014, and what do the other two guys think? Well, he knows what the other guys think. Everyone would love to play more concerts for the band. He’s just playing games, and I’m fed up with it, to be honest with you. I don’t sing, so I can’t do much about it. I definitely want to play live. Because, you know, I’ve still got a twinkle in my eye. I can still play. So, yeah, I’ll just get myself into musical shape, just concentrating on the guitar.” He went on to mention that, before joining Them Crooked Vultures, Jimmy Page and John Paul Jones had been planning to do a Led Zeppelin reunion without Robert Plant.
Robert Plant had this to say: “They had a singer. I don’t know what happened. It sounded like a great idea to me. That was a pretty definitive statement…. You’re going back to the same old shit. A tour would have been an absolute menagerie of vested interests and the very essence of everything that’s shitty about about big-time stadium rock. We were surrounded by a circus of people that would have had our souls on the fire. I’m not part of a jukebox. People ask me nearly every day about a possible reunion. The answer is no. It’s been almost seven years since the O2. There’s always a possibility that they can exhume me and put me onstage in a coffin and play a tape.”
However, he didn’t totally refuse to do it someday: “Everything will develop as it develops. All doors are open. All phone lines are open. I don’t hear from anybody. Talk is cheap, but I just think everything has to be new. Then you can incorporate history… Do you know why The Eagles said they’d reunite when hell freezes over, but they did it anyway and keep touring? It’s not because they were paid a fortune. It’s not about the money. It’s because they’re bored. I’m not bored.”
Plant recently cancelled his tour of Spain with his new band The Sensational Space Shifters, due to “Scheduling conflicts,” and will release a new album on September 9. He said of it: “It’s really a celebratory record, but it’s very crunchy and gritty, very West African and very Massive Attack-y. There’s a lot of bottom end, so it might sound alright at a Jamaican party, but I’m not sure it would sound alright on [US radio network] NPR.”
But, you’re probably wondering about the “Stairway to a Plagiarism Lawsuit,” aren’t you? Well, as it turns out, it looks like a lawyer is planning to block the remastered release of Led Zeppelin’s untitled fourth album, because he believes the introduction to “Stairway to Heaven” sounds too much like Spirit’s 1968 song “Taurus.” He is currently seeking a copyright infringement suit, and the late Randy California, who wrote the song, should be given credit.
It should be noted that on Led Zeppelin and Spirit toured together on their first American Tour. Bandmate Mark Andes said: “…it would typically come after a big forceful number and always got a good response. They would have seen it in that context… The clarity seems to be a present-day clarity, not at the time of infringement. I can’t explain it. It is fairly blatant, and note for note. It would just be nice if the Led Zeppelin guys gave Randy a little nod. That would be lovely.” Indeed, in the liner notes to the reissue of Spirit’s debut album, Randy California himself said: “People always ask me why “Stairway to Heaven” sounds exactly like “Taurus”, which was released two years earlier. I know Led Zeppelin also played “Fresh Garbage” in their live set. They opened up for us on their first American tour.” So, why did it take so long for a lawsuit to come up? Apparently, they couldn’t afford it until now.
California’s family stated that they waited so long to take legal action as they could not previously afford it.Here’s Spirit’s “Taurus,” and “Stairway to heaven” for comparison.
It should also be noted, however, that British guitarist Davy Graham’s version of “Cry Me a River” has an intro very similar to that of Stairway to Heaven, and Jimmy Page’s famous instrumental “White Summer” was explicitly derived from his version of “She Moved Through the Fair.” Indeed, it may sound closer to Led Zeppelin’s version than “Taurus” was, so, it’s more likely that, if he stole from anyone, it was Davy Graham.
That said, given that Led Zeppelin are, first and foremost, a blues band, and the blues is a genre where artists take other peoples’ songs and make them their own all the time (see Robert Johnson’s “If I Had Possession Over Judgment Day” and Muddy Waters’ “Rollin’ And Tumblin,” also, see Kokomo Arnold’s “Kokomo Blues,” and Robert Johnson’s “Sweet Home Chicago.”) Really, if anything, they were following a time-honoured blues tradition, even if it is one currently frowned upon.