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Stairway to Heaven
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Stairway to Heaven

"Stairway to Heaven" is a famous and influential song by British rock group Led Zeppelin. It is one of the most frequently covered songs, having been performed by dozens of other artists.

One of the most requested songs on U.S FM radio stations, "Stairway to Heaven", from Led Zeppelin's fourth album, was never released officially as a single. It did however appear as a promo disc in the United States, on an Australian acoustic EP and in the 1990s as a 20th anniversary promo issue. The song had its beginnings during the sessions for Led Zeppelin III at Bron-Yr-Aur, Wales, but was completed at Headley Grange, Hampshire, and finally recorded at Island Studios, London, in December 1970. It is not entirely clear whether the movie title (below) was the an inspiration for the song or the source of the song title.

The song was first played live at Belfast's Ulster Hall on March 5, 1971; it was performed at every Led Zeppelin concert thereafter, usually as part of a final encore from 1975 to 1980. "Stairway" was also played at Live Aid in 1985 and the fortieth anniversary celebration of Atlantic Records in 1988, and by Jimmy Page as an instrumental version on his solo tours.

"Stairway to Heaven" is one of the biggest-selling sheet music publications in rock history. Since 1971, "Stairway to Heaven" has sold more than 1.2 million copies.

Table of contents
1 Lyrics
2 Music
3 Trivia
4 David Niven film

Lyrics

The lyrics, written by Led Zeppelin vocalist Robert Plant next to an evening log fire, was 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 and contained references to May Queens, pipers, and bustling hedgerows.

Music

Musically, the song takes the form of a multi-movement suite, with a quiet introduction featuring
acoustic guitar and recorder gradually giving way to a slow electric middle section and finally a crashing hard rock final section. This form would influence many other rock artists, notably Queen, who would use a similar structure for their opus "Bohemian Rhapsody". The guitar part opens with an Am-Fmaj7 chord progression with a chromatic descending bassline A-G#-G-F#-F. John Paul Jones contributed wooden bass recorders in the opening section and Hohner electric piano in the middle section. The extended Jimmy Page guitar solo in the song's final section was played for the recording on a 1958 Fender Telecaster plugged into a Supro amplifier. Three different solos were recorded with Page deciding to keep the one which he felt best suited the theme of the song. The other guitar parts were played using a Harmony acoustic guitar and Fender Electric XII (12-string), both can be heard on the left and right recording channels respectively. For later live versions Page switched to using a double-necked 6/12 1968 Gibson EDS-1275 which was custom built by Roger Griffin of Gibson's West Coast Custom Shop.

Trivia

David Niven film

Stairway to Heaven was also a US alternative title for the 1946 British movie A Matter of Life and Death, deriving from the film's most prominent special effect: a broad marble escalator linking Heaven and Earth.

Led Zeppelin
John Bonham - John Paul Jones - Jimmy Page - Robert Plant
Original albums: Led Zeppelin - Led Zeppelin II - Led Zeppelin III - Untitled - Houses of the Holy - Physical Graffiti - Presence - The Song Remains the Same - In Through the Out Door - Coda
Other albums: Boxed Set - Profiled - Remasters - Boxed Set 2 - The Complete Studio Recordings - BBC Sessions - ' - ' - How the West Was Won
Films: The Song Remains the Same - Led Zeppelin DVD
Songs: "The Battle of Evermore" - "Dazed and Confused" - "Stairway To Heaven" - "When the Levee Breaks"
Other: Peter Grant - Swan Song Records