Jimmy Page and Led Zeppelin have penned dozens of all-time classics during their careers, but “Stairway to Heaven” stands above all others. side, perhaps aware of Led Zeppelin IV melody would be a huge hit, John Bonham was so demanding during the recording session that the drummer lashed out at him. Between recording IV In early 1971 and its release later that year, Page had an “amazing” moment that let him know “Stairway to Heaven” was going to be a huge hit.
Led Zeppelin’s first three albums contained several songs that broke the six-minute barrier. “Stairway to Heaven” was her first epic in the truest sense of the word. It was unlike any other song they had made up to that point.
The folk-inspired acoustic opening that turns electric, the sped-up time signature (Page called it the cardinal sin), and the blending of multiple instruments made it a prominent element in the Zeppelin repertoire up to this point. Page played multiple guitars on “Stairway to Heaven.” He used two 12-string guitars to produce slightly different sounds when playing the same notes. The guitarist had his famous double-neck Gibson built so he could play the song live without having to switch instruments.
Page knew “Stairway to Heaven” was going to be something special because he had had an incredible moment with the song long before Led Zeppelin IVReleased November 1971.
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Led Zeppelin split up the recording sessions Led Zeppelin IV between the Headley Grange Country House and Island Studios (according to the band’s website) from November 1970 to February 1971. However, the album was not released until November 1971 in the United States.
Still, Page recalled an “amazing” reception when the band performed the song live to US fans for the first time. Led Zeppelin played the first of back-to-back shows at The Forum in Inglewood, California, and fans immediately embraced “Stairway,” writes George Case Frequently asked questions about Led Zeppelin:
“Stairway to Heaven,” featuring Page’s virtuoso solo, Bonham’s powerful drums, Robert Plant’s earnest lyrics and John Paul Jones’ five instrumental performance, quickly became Led Zeppelin’s signature song. Led Zeppelin IV sold more than 24 million copies (according to the Recording Industry Association of America), meaning generations of music fans had “Stairway to Heaven” frolicking in their hedgerow.
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Led Zeppelin has long made “Stairway to Heaven” a staple of concerts Led Zeppelin IV meet shelves. Page’s incredible moment at Zep’s first US concert in 1971 proved to him that there was something special about the band. The guitarist later explained that longevity comes from a powerful, everlasting quality.
“Stairway” did every setlist for Led Zeppelin, but the last time the band performed was on July 7, 1980 in Berlin. That was the last show Zep played together before Bonham died. Page said Led Zeppelin could never replace Bonham, nor would they have, meaning the four musicians who recorded “Stairway to Heaven” last performed it live in Germany as part of a swing through Northern Europe.
Aside from a disastrous Live Aid set in 1985, a 2007 reunion, and few other performances, the song has stayed on the shelf since 1980. Still, that can’t take away from the incredible moment Jimmy Page knew “Stairway to Heaven.” would be a huge hit.
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