Odds & Ends: Led Zeppelin, TV On The Radio, Gong, Van Morrison

Copyright-infringement lawsuit over Led Zeppelin’s “Stairway To Heaven” attempts to stay in Pennsylvania … Gong member tells fans he has six months to live … Van Morrison to play a festival in his ol’ hometown.

Photo: Manuel Balce Ceneta/AP
Robert Plant, Jimmy Page & John Paul Jones at the East Room of the White House.

It’s been one of Led Zeppelin’s signature songs for more than 40 years and now plaintiffs in the copyright-infringement lawsuit over “Stairway To Heaven” are trying to keep the case in Pennsylvania.

At issue is whether Led Zeppelin lifted a melody from the 1968 Spirit song “Taurus” to use in “Stairway To Heaven.”

Lawyers for the trust of Spirit guitarist Randy California said the lawsuit, which names surviving Led Zeppelin members Robert Plant, John Paul Jones and Jimmy Page, should play out in a Philadelphia courtroom because guitarist Page played 23 gigs in Pennsylvania from 1966 to 1998, reports Bloomberg.

But lawyers representing Led Zeppelin and Warner Music Group aren’t all that keen about keeping the case in the Keystone State and want the trial moved to a federal courtroom in Los Angeles.

Through the years fans of Spirit and Led Zeppelin have noted the similarities between “Taurus” and “Stairway To Heaven.”  Plus, Led Zeppelin once toured with Spirit, meaning Page & Co. probably heard “Taurus” performed on more than one occasion.

Lawyers for Warner Music Group and Led Zeppelin say the band has no connection with Pennyslvania.  Meanwhile, lawyers pressing the lawsuit claim the band had “systematic and continuous contact” with Pennsylvania because of CDs sold in the state and songs played on radio.

How much money is at stake?  Citing Conde Nast Portfolio magazine, Bloomberg reports that “Stairway To Heaven” has earned at least $562 million since its 1971 release.

Led Zeppelin last performed in Pennsylvania in 1985.  Appearing at Live Aid, the band featured Page, Plant and Jones along with Phil Collins on drums.  And they closed with “Stairway To Heaven.”

So far, U.S. District Judge Juan Sanchez has not said when he would rule on the matter.

TV On The Radio has nixed its U.K./Europe tour scheduled to begin this weekend.  The indie band hailing from Brooklyn, N.Y., posted a message on its Facebook page saying it wouldn’t be able to tour until its drummer regains his health.

“It is with much regret that due to a health emergency, we are forced to cancel our upcoming Europe/UK tour which is due to start this Friday,” the band said in the posting.  “Our drummer, Jahphet is in the hospital; he will be ok but is not able to travel at this time.  We apologize to all our European and UK fans and appreciate everyone’s understanding and well wishes for Jahphet at this time.”

Sometimes referred to as “The Belfast Cowboy,” the purveyor of blue-eyed soul, Van Morrison will play his Northern Ireland hometown when he appears live on Cyprus Avenue during the annual EastSide Arts Festival on “Bank Holiday Monday,” Aug. 31.

Along with Van Morrison’s appearance is a new self-guided tour of Belfast that leads fans to areas that inspired the legendary singer/songwriter.  Stops include “The Hollow” which served as a location in “Brown Eyed Girl” and Orangefield Park which was immortalized in Van Morrison’s 1969 song, “Orangefield.”  Follow this link for more information.

Photo: AP Photo / Keystone
Montreux Jazz Festival, Stravinski Hall, Montreux, Switzerland

Daevid Allen of French progressive band Gong has issued a very poignant message to fans, saying that cancer has left him with only six months to live.

Allen fell ill with cancer last fall while the band’s Snapper/K-scope label was promoting Gong’s new album, I See You.

“I am not interested in endless surgical operations and in fact it has come as a relief to know that the end is in sight,” Allen wrote.  “I am a great believer in ‘The Will Of the Way Things Are’ and I also believe that the time has come to stop resisting and denying and to surrender to the way it is.”

Photo: PlanetGong.co.uk
In an undated photo.

Allen’s complete message is available here.