Patterico's Pontifications


Led Zeppelin Exonerated in Stairway to Heaven Case

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 11:32 pm

It’s no surprise. Americans are celebrity hounds. They are star-struck in the presence of any celebrity — and celebrities win most court cases as a result.

Jimmy Page and Robert Plant (and John Paul Jones, a lesser light) testified at the trial, and by all accounts were charming and deflected the plaintiff’s case in amusing ways. Jimmy Page admitted that he owned the album containing “Taurus,” which clearly inspired the opening of “Stairway” — but claimed that he first heard the song on the Internet two years ago.

Which is funny, because I highlighted Taurus on this blog more than three years ago — on June 8, 2013 — stating:

Taurus, by Spirit.

Led Zeppelin opened for Spirit early in their careers, and heard this song live. You will not have to listen closely to hear the inspiration for Stairway to Heaven.

A year later, when the case was filed, I summed up my feelings in this post — and I see no reason to change my erudite and well-stated opinion today:

I have mixed feelings about this one. On one hand, if you listen to the piece, it’s pretty clear they ripped off part of California’s piece — and the fact that they were touring with Spirit at the time just solidifies the conclusion that you would have come to anyway regarding the similarities. It would have been nice for them to credit California and give him a piece of the royalties. And, as I say, I pointed out the similarities last year, long before the lawsuit — so it’s clearly not a made-up claim. (Do any of the lawyers read this blog?)

That being said, California himself never filed suit. And in “Stairway to Heaven,” while Zeppelin took some of California’s music, the more famous band also transformed the germ of that idea into something quite different, taken as a whole. Patterico reluctantly hereby enters judgment for defendant in the court of public opinion, but awards no costs — and encourages Led Zeppelin to give California his writing credit anyway.

I admit to being a Spirit partisan: I saw them live, from the front row, in Dallas’s West End Marketplace in the late 1980s. Randy California was charismatic, talented, and unforgettable. To the jury that rendered the verdict, though, he was almost surely some no-name shmoe. Maybe I was wowed by my perception of California’s celebrity, while Zeppelin — a band I have always enjoyed and respected — is a band I never saw live. The closest I came was seeing a solo Robert Plant show from middling seats, 15 rows back. Nothing very memorable. When I started writing this post, I forgot I had even seen that concert. But the Spirit show is burned deeply into my brain. To think: California was only in his late 30s when I saw them live. Damn. I’m old.

Anyway, Randy California is long dead and gone, having drowned off the coast of Molokai in 1997 while heroically rescuing his 12-year-old son from a rip current. But he definitely thought the song was ripped off, and as noted above, so do I. Here’s California:

Here’s a transcript of the relevant part of California’s statement:

Questioner: Speaking of Led Zeppelin, another sort of legendary story is the, which is true, I guess, is regarding the song “Taurus” that you also wrote. In the introduction. Um, did Led Zeppelin ever acknowledge their debt to you for that introduction? Was there ever anything said about that, or is it just sort of a story that’s floating around?

California: It’s not a story. It’s absolutely true. If you listen to the two things, you can make your own judgment.

Questioner: Mm-hmm.

California: It’s an exact, I’ll just say it, it’s a rip-off.

Questioner: Yeah.

California: And the guys made millions of bucks on it and they never said, “Thank you” and they never said, “Can we pay you some money for it?” or this or that. So I just think it’s —

Questioner: Yeah.

California: It’s kind of a sore point with me. And they, maybe some day they’ll — their conscience will make them change and they’ll do something about it. I don’t know. It’s not right. You know?

Questioner: Yeah, yeah. I agree. I mean, I think they did that in a few other cases too. [You bet they did! — Ed.] With a couple other —

California: It’s funny business, dealing between record companies, and managers, and publishers, and artists. But when artists do it to other artists, to me, there’s no excuse for that. You can quote me on that. I’m mad.

I am too. Even if I probably have ruled the same way the jury did.

Polls Closed in UK; Awaiting Brexit Results

Filed under: General — JVW @ 6:16 pm

[guest post by JVW]

UPDATE: You can follow the results here. Thanks to narciso and kishnevi for the link.

UPDATE II: Rick Ballard provides a link to The Telegraph’s tabulation of the results. Another good site to check.

UPDATE BY PATTERICO: The BBC has called it for “leave.”

It’s well after midnight in the United Kingdom where voters yesterday went to the polls to decide whether subjects of Her Royal Majesty will remain a part of the European Union. Polls, which in recent weeks had shown the pro-Brexit side slightly leading have as of late tightened and now seem to be favoring the Remain side.

To follow the results, you can check out Lindsay Lohan’s Twitter feed. Seriously: Linsday Lohan’s Twitter feed. Here’s a taste:

This is a good excuse to show this outstanding brief for leaving the EU by that masterful speaker, Daniel Hannan. It’s their language — we’re just borrowing it — but why are they such better public speakers than any of our politicians over on this side of the Atlantic Ocean?


Another Baltimore Cop Acquitted in Freddie Gray Death Trial

Filed under: General — JVW @ 11:13 am

[guest post by JVW]

[UPDATE: I corrected the spelling of Freddie Gray’s name in the title and in the post. – JVW]

Officer Caesar Goodson, Jr. was acquitted earlier today on all charges stemming from his participation in last spring’s arrest and subsequent death of Freddie Gray. Goodson had driven the police van in which Gray had been placed while handcuffed, and he was accused of having intentionally given Gray a “rough ride” causing him to be tossed about in the back of the van. Gray died from neck and spinal injuries that prosecutors contend were suffered during the van ride. Goodson had been charged with second-degree depraved heart murder, three counts of manslaughter, second-degree assault, reckless endangerment and misconduct in office, but presiding Judge Barry Williams found him not guilty on all charges. Goodson is the third of six Baltimore PD officers brought up on charges. Officer William Porter’s trial ended in a mistrial back in December and Officer Edward Nero was found not guilty last month.

Baltimore State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby has been criticized for over-charging in this case and for a reckless rush to judgement in general. In the Goodson case, it also turned out that her office had withheld exculpatory evidence from Goodson’s defense team, including a witness account that Gray had continued to move on his own in the van after the point that the prosecution contended his spine had been broken. In addition, Legal Insurrection discusses tension between the Baltimore Police Department and Mosby’s office after prosecutors floated the theory that detectives have deliberately sabotaged the Goodson case through poor work. Goodson’s case was considered the strongest of the six for the prosecution, so his acquittal today does not bode well for the chances of winning convictions in the remaining three trials.


Obama’s Illegal Amnesty Blocked by Supreme Court in 4-4 Tie

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 7:51 am

When leftists and judicial conservatives are split 4-4, as here, the important thing becomes the decision of the lower court — because a tie goes to the runner lower court decision. That’s what happened here. The fate of his plan came down to a single vote in the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals, which ruled 2-1 against Obama. Today’s decision is a single line, saying that the decision below was affirmed by an equally divided court. It is not clear to me whether the Court will be announcing who voted which way (I think they won’t), but the line-up is nevertheless as predictable as rain in Seattle: the 4 reliable lefties vs. the 4 mostly-conservatives.

Note that this opinion merely affirms a stay. A trial on the merits still looms.

Historic House Sit-In Is Historic

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 7:33 am

The Democrats are conducting a historic sit-in which is historic. They are trying to take guns from Americans without due process, and so this is a civil rights issue, you see. (I have already discussed how Republicans have their own bills that address the concerns raised by Democrats, but in a more responsible way that does not step on due process. If the government has you on a list, it should know why it put you there — and it should not take long to explain those reasons to a judge.) The ACLU opposes the Democrat proposals. But all you’ll hear from Big Media is that John Lewis is involved, and it’s historic. Historic, I say!

What’s it really about? Fundraising.

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