Stairway to Heaven. One of the most acclaimed classic rock songs of all time, despite it never being released as a single in the US charts. Other than that interesting fact, there are actually many other interesting and fun facts that you may not know about the most famous Led Zeppelin song ever.
So hit play on the video below and jam out to this great live version of Stairway while you read the 10 interesting and fun facts that I put together for Stairway to Heaven...
Stairway to Heaven remains the biggest-selling sheet music in the history of rock. An average hit sells 10,000 to 15,000 copies of sheet music. Stairway to Heaven has sold well over one million copies.
Stairway to Heaven was performed in almost every concert by Led Zeppelin and it was omitted only on rare occasions, when shows were interrupted by curfews or technical problems. The last time the band performed the song was in Berlin on 7th July 1980, which was also their last show ever as the full band, and this version also was one of the longest ever, lasting almost fifteen minutes.
Stairway is still played 4,203 times a year by America's sixty-seven largest AOR (album-oriented rock) radio stations, according to trade magazine MONDAY MORNING REPLAY (stat from the early 90s).
US communications company MediaBase lists 'Stairway to Heaven' as having been played a total of 1,432,403 times around the world as of May 2008.
The guitar introduction is one of the most famous pieces ever played on the guitar, but was in fact borrowed from the song Taurus by Spirit, who were touring with Led Zeppelin at the time. They have been interviewed about this and apparently do not mind.
The lyrics, written by Led Zeppelin vocalist Robert Plant next to an evening log fire, were inspired by his search for spiritual perfection. A seminal influence was the book Magic Arts in Celtic Britain by Lewis Spence, which Plant had recently read; it contained references to May Queens, pipers, and "bustling hedgerows."
In 1982, a California State Assembly consumer-protection-committee hearing featured testimony from "experts" who claimed that "Stairway," when played backward, contained the words: "I sing because I live with Satan. The Lord turns me off -- there's no escaping it. Here's to my sweet Satan, whose power is Satan. He will give you 666. I live for Satan." Evidence of a demonic message? Or was the backward-masking controversy started by a failing electronics firm as a ploy to get teenagers to ruin turntables by spinning them backward? Swan Song Records also issued the following statement at the time which said:"Our turntables only play in one direction—forwards."
In 2003 it was named #31 in Rolling Stones 'Top 500 Songs of All Time' and #3 in VH1 in their 2000 awards for the '100 Greatest Rock Songs of All Time' awards.
The tendency for many aspiring guitar players to learn to play the introduction to the song was spoofed in the 1992 Mike Myers movie Wayne's World, when a "No Stairway to Heaven" regulation is enforced at a music store visited by the title character. The intro was replaced with a more generic, non-"Stairway" riff in later releases of the movie, making the joke incomprehensible. Plant himself referenced the scene's "No Stairway? Denied!" line during a concert appearance with Page in 1995.
On January 23, 1991, John Sebastian, owner and general manager of KLSK FM in Albuquerque, New Mexico, played the song for twenty-four solid hours to inaugurate a format change to classic rock. It played more than two hundred times, eliciting hundreds of angry calls and letters. Police showed up with guns drawn, once after a listener reported that the deejay had apparently suffered a heart attack, later because of suspicion that -- this being eight days into the Gulf War -- the radio station had been taken hostage by terrorists dispatched by Zeppelin freak Saddam Hussein. Weirdest of all, lots of listeners didn't move the dial. "Turns out a lot of people listened to see when we would finally stop playing it."
Anyone else got any interesting and fun facts about one of the great classic rock songs of all time? And it makes me wonder...
first time they played stairway was on 5 March 1971 at Belfast i think. And i think i read that John Paul Jones said that the crowd was unimpressed with the song, like they just wanted to hear something they already knew, not new stuff you know.
If anyone here as ever listened to this backwards, holy shit that stuff is crazy. My favorite version is BBC, its the only live I have heard Robert Plant hit that epic "and not to Roll!" line. The live DVD might have my favorite solo though...
I also remember when they performed it on Live Aid and Mike Smith (I think), commented about hearing the most requested track in the history of radio in your living room was in itself a reason to give money.