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Led Zeppelin Accused of ‘Pure Fishing Expedition’ in ‘Stairway to Heaven’ Lawsuit



Attorneys for group blasted for requesting "irrelevant" documentation in copyright dispute

As any Led Zeppelin fan knows, the group has long been associated with one legendarily impure fishing expedition. And now they're being accused of engaging in a pure one.

In the latest turn in the "Stairway to Heaven" copyright saga, the group was accused of undertaking a "pure fishing expedition" in legal papers filed Tuesday.

In the filing, attorneys for plaintiff Michael Skidmore - trustee for the Randy Craig Wolfe Trust which, according to the papers, owns Wolfe's copyrights - blast Team Zeppelin for questioning the validity of the trust.

"There is no evidence to cast even the slightest bit of shade on the validity of the Trust, nor have Defendants argued that there is any real reason to doubt the validity of the Trust," the papers read. "This is a pure fishing expedition."

Skidmore brought the suit, claiming that Zeppelin's rock classic "Stairway to Heaven" infringes on the song "Taurus" by the group Spirit, of which Wolfe (nom de rock: Randy California) was an original member. Wolfe died in 1997.

Led Zeppelin's camp contends that the Wolfe trust is only valid if it is a qualified charitable foundation or other qualified entity, and claims that Skidmore's legal team hasn't provided evidence to that effect. Zeppelin's lawyers are asking Skidmore's team to provide proof, such as "all Internal Revenue Service notices or correspondence qualifying the Randy Craig Wolfe Trust as a charitable foundation or other qualified entity."

The plaintiff's side contends that it has already provided all the proof that's necessary, and that the Zeppelin team's request for further documentation is "overly broad, vague, irrelevant, not calculated to lead to the discovery of relevant evidence, and unduly burdensome."

They also say that nobody has ever questioned the validity of the trust, and "because Defendants are not the beneficiaries of the Trust they have no legal authority or standing to challenge the validity of the Trust."

According to the filing, Skidmore claims that the trust's receipts "are used to donate musical instruments for schoolchildren in Ventura County."

From: The Wrap
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This Month in
Led Zeppelin History

March 17, 1969 - A four-song performance is filmed for TV Byen in Denmark (aired on May 19, 1969)
March 21, 1969 - Zeppelin’s debut TV appearance on "How It Is"
March 25, 1969 - Filming session for the Supershow
March xx, 1970 - The band turns down many TV offers worth large sums
March 05, 1971 - Led Zeppelin started a 12-date "Thank You" tour for British fans, appearing at the clubs from their early days and charging the same admission prices as in 1968. The first show was at Ulster Hall, Belfast, Northern Ireland where they played songs from their upcoming fourth album, including the first public performances of Black Dog, Stairway To Heaven, Going To California and Rock And Roll.
March 12, 1972 - Page and Plant rehearse some songs with the Bombay Orchestra
March 25, 1973 - Led Zeppelin finally release Houses of the Holy after production issues with the album cover
March 28, 1973 - Led Zeppelin released Houses Of The Holy in the UK. The album title was a dedication by the band to their fans who appeared at venues they dubbed "houses of the holy". Houses Of The Holy has now been certified 11 times Platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) for US sales in excess of 11 million copies.
March xx, 1974 - The band decide to release a double album due to the amount of left over studio material
March 29, 1975 - Led Zeppelin saw all six of their albums in the US Top 100 chart in the same week, alongside their latest album Physical Graffiti at No.1. Physical Graffiti has now been certified 16 times Platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) for US sales in excess of 16 million copies.
March 15, 1975 - Tickets for the Earls Court shows sellout within four hours
March xx, 1976 - Jimmy speaks with reporters mentioning the new album due out called Presence
March 31, 1976 - Presence is released
March 28, 1977 - Zeppelin arrive in Dallas, Texas to rehearse before opening the eleventh tour of the US
March xx, 1978 - Robert and John spend some time hanging around the Midlands
March 26, 1979 - Robert takes lead vocal at a Bad Company gig in Birmingham
March 04, 1980 - John Bonham makes a TV appearance on "Alright Now" with Bill Connolly
March 26, 2006 - Readers of Total Guitar magazine voted the guitar solo by Jimmy Page in Led Zeppelin’s Stairway To Heaven as the greatest guitar solo of all time. The 1971 track was voted ahead of tracks by Van Halen, Queen, Jimi Hendrix and The Eagles. On the 20th anniversary of the original release of the song, it was announced via US radio sources that the song had logged up an estimated 2,874,000 radio plays - back to back, that would run for 44 years solid.
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