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How Page and Plant Wrote One of the Greatest Rock Songs of All Time

Over time, "Stairway to Heaven" has become one of the most influential songs in the history of rock: it is the most actively rotated tune on radio stations in the United States!

The story of one hit: the creation, meaning, influence of "Stairway to Heaven"

"Stairway to Heaven" - the most famous song in the repertoire "Led Zeppelin". It was with her that many listeners began to get acquainted with the work of British rockers. The composition was released as part of the group's fourth album and soon gained both popularity and scandalous reputation. With time "Stairway to Heaven" became one of the most influential songs in the history of rock: it is the most actively rotated tune on radio stations in the United States! However, it did not come out as a single until 2007, and one of the authors always treated the popular creation with prejudice, calling it a "wedding tune".

Inspiration and recording

Robert Plant and Jimmy Page performing in Philadelphia, 1985
Robert Plant and Jimmy Page performing in Philadelphia, 1985

The famous work was born from the pen Jimmy Page and Robert Plante in 1970, when the musicians were relaxing in a Welsh cottage after a US tour. According to the virtuoso guitarist, he spent a lot of time and effort writing the instrumental part. During this period, he did not leave the walls of the house without his cassette recorder.

The recording of the future hit began at the end of the same year, in a new London studio. Basing Street! The lyrics of the song were written by Plant already during the session, which ended only in 1971. The legendary guitar solo was the last recorded by Page:

“It has always been important for me to add a guitar solo at the very end, because it should fully reflect the whole message of the work,” he said.

Scandals

Led Zeppelin
"Led Zeppelin"

When the song was released, it gained huge popularity among the listeners! And only at the beginning of the new decade acquired an ambiguous reputation. Many media began to write about the satanic message hidden in the lyrics of the hit. Versions were put forward the most different! One of the most popular is scrolling the track in the opposite direction: supposedly in this way a phrase glorifying Satan himself is clearly heard. The hypotheses were put forward for a reason: they were fueled by an unusual hobby Page occult sciences. In particular, the idol of the guitarist in this area was Aleister Crowley.

Aleister Crowley
Aleister Crowley

Of course, the band members denied everything, referring to the fact that such accusations sound like "complete nonsense." However, the scandals surrounding the famous "Stairway to Heaven" did not end there.

A little later, critics began to note an unusual resemblance to Taurus from Spirit.

It is worth noting that "Zeppelin" acted as the opening act for this team in the early stages of their journey. In 2016, the court ruled in favor of the ballad.

true meaning

Robert Plant as a young man.
Robert Plant in his youth

According to Planta, he wrote heartfelt lyrics while in a very bad mood:

“Jimmy and I were sitting by the fireplace, I picked up a notebook with a pen and began to compose a text. Nothing came to mind. The first thing that appeared on a sheet of paper was the phrase that this track begins with. For a while, I just stared at the text, and soon I had an epiphany! I almost jumped with surprise and joy.

Robert Plant
Robert Plant

Page claims that this composition fully reflects the essence of the group itself:

“She has all the best that is in each of us,” said the guitarist.

Criticism and influence

Led Zeppelin – Live at Madison Square Garden 1973
"Led Zeppelin" - "Live at Madison Square Garden" (1973)

There are dozens of first-class tracks in the piggy bank of British rockers, but it is precisely "Stairway to Heaven" won the hearts of millions of listeners around the world! None of their songs can compare with her in popularity. The composition is relevant even today, despite the high-profile scandals associated with it in the past.

Today, the world-famous ballad is included in various prestigious lists and ratings, including the best guitar solos of all time according to the version "Guitar World". Jimmy Page is very proud of this piece and considers the composition "the band's greatest achievement". However, the second author Robert Plant, is biased towards the hit and calls it a "wedding song".

Successful covers

Given the global popularity of the composition, it is not surprising that on "Stairway to Heaven" countless cover versions have been recorded! From Frank Zappa To Dolly Parton and U2 - we bring to your attention the most interesting and successful of them!

https://youtu.be/uKgK91zCq44

Interesting to know

Robert Plant (left) and Jimmy Page (right) of Led Zeppelin at a concert in Chicago, Illinois. Photo: Jim Sammaria
Robert Plant (left) and Jimmy Page (right) of Led Zeppelin at a concert in Chicago, Illinois. Photo: Jim Sammaria
  • During a live performance of a song Page played double neck guitar. The musician also often fell into improvisation, because of which the number could stretch up to 15 minutes!
  • The famous rock ballad has taken its place in the musical comedy "Wayne's World": the hero wants to play it in the music shop, but the seller points to the sign "No Stairway to Heaven". There are such plates in many commercial music outlets in the States: inept enthusiasts often try to reproduce the famous track, which annoys consultants very much.

  • It is generally accepted that the ballad was first performed at a concert in Belfast, in March 1971. As the story goes, she was very coolly received by the public. However, Page claims that this is not the first concert performance of their hit: according to him, "Zeppelin" resorted to their main weapon earlier, as part of a concert at the LA Forum. The listeners applauded, and the composition itself had not even been recorded yet!
  • Scot Gordon Roy tattooed the lyrics of the cult song on his back! According to the man, in this way he expressed a tribute to the memory and respect for the deceased comrade.

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