Led Zeppelin singer recounts how he composed 'Stairway'

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Lead singer Robert Plant (L) and guitarist Jimmy Page of British rock band Led Zeppelin are seen October 9, 2012 and July 21, 2015 in New York and Toronto.

LOS ANGELES - Led Zeppelin singer Robert Plant denied on Tuesday having stolen the opening of the rock group&39;s iconic song "Stairway to Heaven", telling a jury he had written the anthem decades ago in the English countryside.

The 67-year-old musician told a Los Angeles federal court that the song at the centre of a copyright case was clearly his work as well as that of Zeppelin guitarist-songwriter Jimmy Page.

The song was played to jurors as arguments wrapped up on Tuesday.

Plant testified that he wrote the lyrics more than 45 years ago while sitting by a fire at a recording and rehearsal venue in Britain.

He said he was inspired to write the lines after he heard Page play the opening notes of what would become one of the most famous rock songs of all time.

"That particular evening, I sat with Jimmy by the fire, and I had this first couplet that fit with what he was playing," he testified.

"I was really trying to bring the remote, pastoral Britain... the old, almost unspoken Celtic references into the piece," he added.

Asked by his attorney to remember what the couplet was, he sighed before reciting the famous lines.

"There&39;s a lady who&39;s sure all that glitters is gold and she&39;s buying a stairway to heaven," Plant said. "When she gets there she knows, if the stores are all closed with a word she can get what she came for."

The genesis of the song is a key element in the case as Page and Plant fight accusations they stole the anthem&39;s melancholy opening guitar arpeggio from "Taurus", the first album of long-defunct LA psychedelic rock band Spirit.

Page, 72, who testified when the trial opened last week, took the stand again on Tuesday, listening to 46-year-old recordings made at Headley Grange, the retreat used by the band in Britain, and explaining in detail to the jury the song&39;s creation.

His attorney then played the entire nearly eight-minute finished version of the song to the jury before advising the judge that the defence had no more witnesses.

Closing arguments were set for Wednesday, before the jury of four women and four men begin deliberations.

The five-day trial, which is being watched closely as it could potentially set an important precedent, has included testimony by musicologists who said there were substantial similarities between "Stairway" and "Taurus".

Spirit guitarist Randy California, who penned "Taurus", long maintained he deserved a song-writing credit for "Stairway" but never took legal action. He drowned in Hawaii in 1997.

A lawsuit filed by his trustee and friend Michael Skidmore two years ago seeks damages and claims California deserves a credit so that he can "take his place as an author of rock&39;s greatest song".

However, experts who testified on behalf of the defence in the trial said the chord pattern used in the intro to stairway was so "commonplace" that it couldn&39;t be copyrighted.

Page testified last week that his chord progression had more in common with "Chim Chim Cher-ee", from the 1964 musical "Mary Poppins", than anything else.

At stake in the case are potentially millions of dollars in royalties collected in the three years prior to the filing of the suit through this month.

Zeppelin opened for Spirit when the hard rockers -- Plant, Page, John Paul Jones and the late John Bonham -- made their US debut on 26 December 1968 in Denver.

But the surviving members have submitted testimony that they never had substantive interaction with Spirit or listened to 1967&39;s "Taurus" before recording "Stairway" in December 1970 and January 1971.

The lawsuit lists disputes over 16 other Led Zeppelin songs, many of which were settled by giving the complainant a song-writing credit and royalties, including classics "Whole Lotta Love" and "Babe I&39;m Gonna Leave You".