Led Zeppelin frontman Robert Plant’s famously unruly coiffure became a topic of testimony during the second day of a trial to determine whether the group stole from another song to create their trademark anthem.
Testifying for plaintiff Michael Skidmore, U.K. witness Michael Ware recalled seeing Plant at a performance by Spirit — the group Zeppelin is accused of ripping off — at Mother’s Club in Birmingham, England, in 1970.
Ware, who in his video deposition said that he was 17 or 18 at the time of the show, said he recognized Plant by his “distinctive long, corkscrew blond hair.”
According to Ware, Plant was in the audience for at least 15 minutes.
“He was quite animated and talking to friends, but I saw him really enjoying [Spirit],” Ware testified.
Led Zeppelin is accused of lifting from the 1968 Spirit song “Taurus” while writing “Stairway to Heaven.” Skidmore, the trustee of the Randy Craig Wolfe Trust, dubbed after the real name of Spirit frontman Randy California, filed suit in 2014. His suit notes that Spirit and Led Zeppelin played a number of shows together before the 1971 release of “Stairway to Heaven.”
During at least one of those shows, Zeppelin performed a cover of Spirit’s song “Fresh Garbage,” which appears on the same album as “Taurus.” However, Led Zeppelin guitarist Jimmy Page who, like Plant, is expected to testify at the trial, has stated that he only heard “Taurus” after the lawsuit was filed, despite having the album on which it’s included in his record collection.
Plant was in attendance during Wednesday’s testimony, his corkscrew and perhaps-not-so-blond-anymore hair tied back, as was Page.
Asked if people were dancing in the packed club during the 1970 Spirit show, Ware replied, “You could barely breathe let alone dance.” The courtroom echoed with laughter, as Page and Plant cracked up at Ware’s assessment.
Ware, who said that he emailed Skidmore in April after hearing about the lawsuit but had been in contact with him over the past 15 years because he had taken a lot of rock photos, said he had nothing to gain from testifying.
“I’ve got no financial gain to be made. I just want justice to be done,” Ware told the court.
On Wednesday, original Spirit bassist Mark Andes also testified, telling the court that he drank beer and played snooker with Plant after the Spirit show at Mother’s.