Even in a room with Jimmy Page and Robert Plant, you can’t miss him.
At, or near, the front of the line every day for the past week at the federal courthouse in downtown Los Angeles is the man who calls himself Blue Boy. That’s for the mustache and goatee dyed a royal shade of blue, a little deeper than his pale blue eyes. He will pose for a photograph, but decline to give his real name.
He’s there — arriving between 6 a.m. and 6:30 a.m. daily – to watch what transpires in the copyright infringement trial over whether Led Zeppelin’s “Stairway to Heaven” was cribbed from L.A. rock band Spirit’s earlier instrumental “Taurus.”
Blue Boy is a fan – of both acts. In fact, if there were a reality show called “Ultimate Rock Fan,” Blue Boy certainly would be in the running.
“This trial is really tearing me apart, because I love both groups,” he said after court adjourned on Wednesday and the case had been given to the eight-member jury by U.S. District Court Judge R. Gary Klausner. That followed five days of testimony that saw Zeppelin singer Plant, guitarist Page and bassist John Paul Jones successively take the witness stand.
Blue Boy on this day is wearing a blue denim jacket, denim jeans and a Jimi Hendrix Experience tie-dyed T-shirt. Just to keep things fair and balanced, Blue Boy pulls out of his bag a vintage copy of the sheet music for “Stairway,” and a 48-year-old copy of Spirit’s debut album.
“I brought two items from each band with me,” he said of the satchel he brings with him into the courtroom each day.
Blue Boy, 65, is a Southland native who lives in south Redondo Beach. He notes that his residence is only about two blocks away from the apartment complex that used to be home to Spirit founding member and drummer Ed “Cass” Cassidy.
“I used to see him and his wife around there all the time,” he said. “They never invited me in, but I saw them a lot.”
He also saw members of other bands — a lot.
“I love Zeppelin, but I always loved the underground bands a lot too, like Spirit, and Moby Grape and Arthur Lee & Love.”
He saw the Doors in its infancy, and countless other bands that emerged in Los Angeles and elsewhere in California and up and down the West Coast.
He shares what he says is the piece de resistance among his collection of thousands of classic rock LPs, concert posters and handbills, photos and other memorabilia.
“It’s the poster I got after Arthur Lee & Love played the Wilshire Ebell Theatre,” he said. “I kept walking by and looking at it. I asked the usher how much it would cost to buy it. I just opened my wallet and said, what do you want for it? After a while, she said, ‘What would you do if I gave it to you?’ I told her I would put it in a frame and I’d never get rid of it.
“I don’t ever sell any of my things on eBay,” he said. “That’s ruined things for people like me.”
As to the outcome of the Zeppelin-Spirit trial, Blue Boy said initially he’d sided with Zeppelin’s camp because he likes both songs.
But during the course of the trial he has flipped to supporting Spirit’s team, saying he’s grown suspicious of how consistent the testimony is from Page, Plant and Jones.
“I think they were coached,” he said. “Any time three witnesses say so many of the same things, I have to think they must have been coached.”
Will the jury concur with Blue Boy? We could find out as soon as today.
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