The influence of Led Zeppelin’s ‘Stairway to Heaven’Rodney
Led Zeppelin Stairway to Heaven
Led Zeppelin’s Stairway To Heaven is one of the world’s most recognised songs. It was released late 1971. Composed by guitarist Jimmy Page and vocalist Robert Plant for their album Led Zeppelin IV.
Jimmy Page said he aimed to write a new song with the same fortitude as 1968’s “Dazed and Confused”.
“The idea was to have a song which would actually change as we went through it”. Explained Page “Layers would unfold with the instruments as they were coming in. The drums would be coming in later as the song progressed. And there’d be this movement to the guitar solo that took you through. The momentum would unfold as the pace accelerated. I knew something like that wasn’t necessarily the done thing in popular music. It was done in classical music, but it was tricky with sort of rehearsing it and routine-ing it until [singer] Robert [Plant] had gotten the lyrics, and then it came together, really. The performances of it were more complete once it had the lyrics there. It gave us the opportunity to really build something and shape it to perfection.”
Page tells Rolling Stone the song “Crystallized the essence of the band”. Plant frequently expressed weariness toward it, preferring “Kashmir” as more representative of the band. He told Dan Rather that “it belongs to a particular time”. He once gave a Portland, Ore., public radio station $10,000 to never play “Stairway” again. Page recalled that, at the Atlantic Records 40th-anniversary concert in 1988 at Madison Square Garden, where Plant had to be cajoled into performing the song. “The final thing Robert said to me was, ‘I’m never going to sing ‘Stairway’ again.’ I thought, ‘Well, good luck to you, mate.'”
Led Zeppelin Merchandise
When Led Zeppelin play live the song never leaves their setlist. The first performance was 5th March, 1971, in Belfast (eight months before its release). It was even played through reunion shows at Live Aid, Atlantic’s 40th anniversary and the 2007 Ahmet Ertegun Tribute Concert in London.
When the satanic panic hit the 80s they didn’t leave “Stairway to Heaven” off the hit list. Paul Crouch from Trinity Broadcasting Network claimed the song was among a bunch of rock songs that used backmasking to send satanic messages. Crouch said that the lyrics “bustle in your hedgerow” when played backwards said “Here’s to my sweet Satan/The one whose little path would make me sad, whose power is Satan“. Thankfully not much came from the claim of Mr Crouch.
The Australian TV show The Money or the Gun had weekly guest performers perform their version of “Stairway to Heaven” . Ranging from all sorts of music genres. They even released a compilation album with all the performers playing the song.
And let’s not forget the great scene from “Wayne’s World” in the guitar shop where stairway was “Denied”.