Led Zeppelin have claimed the lawyer for the estate of former Spirit guitarist Randy Wolfe attempted to “taint the jury pool” by claiming the band would not appear in court when the copyright dispute over “Stairway to Heaven” goes to trial next month.
In a motion, the band’s lawyers wrote that Francis Malofiy falsely claimed that Jimmy Page, Robert Plant and John Paul Jones had refused to appear in court during a pretrial conference in April. They also claimed that Malofiy reasserted this claim to reporters outside the courthouse. The motion called the move a “PR stunt,” and added that after the reports died down, Malofiy attempted to revive them by filing a motion designed to make it seem like the court had ordered Zeppelin to appear.
Zeppelin’s motion, however, called these claims “pure fiction,” and insisted that Plant and Page had always intended to attend the trial. It also noted that Jones would appear as a witness for the defense, even though the claims against the bassist were dismissed in April.
Zeppelin’s lawyers accused Malofiy of attempting to delay the trial and refusing “to take ‘yes’ for an answer.” The motion additionally called out Malofiy for trying to serve subpoenas to Plant and Page that not only listed the wrong date, but were void because the two musicians resided in England outside the court’s jurisdiction. The band’s lawyers also claimed Malofiy wanted to submit videotaped testimony from a deposition, in lieu of live testimony, but failed to submit the proper transcripts in time. “Plaintiff’s gambit, and his ongoing efforts to try this case in the press, should be rejected,” the motion read.
Led Zeppelin declined to comment further on the trial. Malofiy did not immediately reply to a request for comment.
The copyright case over “Stairway to Heaven” dates back to 2014, when Michael Skidmore — a trustee for Randy Wolfe’s estate — sued Zeppelin, claiming the band stole the intro to the classic rock staple from Spirit’s 1968 song “Taurus.” The two bands played several shows together between 1968 and 1970, and Zeppelin reportedly played a medley of songs during their first tour that included Spirit’s “Fresh-Garbage,” which appeared on the same LP side as “Taurus.” Led Zeppelin have denied the claim.
While Zeppelin had hoped to avoid a trial, U.S. District Court Judge Gary Klausner ruled in April that “Stairway” and “Taurus” were similar enough to warrant a hearing in front of a jury. The trial is set to begins on June 14th.