Monday, November 8, 1971

Led Zeppelin’s “Stairway to Heaven” released on Led Zeppelin IV

Stairway to Heaven

Led Zeppelin

Writer(s): Jimmy Page, Robert Plant (see lyrics here)

Performed: November 8, 1971 (as an album cut)

First Charted: November 24, 2007

Peak: 30 US *, 1 CL, 37 UK, 17 CN *, 1 DF (* digital song chart) (Click for codes to singles charts.)

Sales (in millions): 1.7 US, 0.6 UK, 10.0 world (includes US + UK)

Airplay/Streaming (in millions): 3.0 radio, 166.0 video, 618.38 streaming

Stairway to Heaven


Performed: December 26, 2012

Peak: 1 DF (Click for codes to singles charts.)

Sales (in millions): 1.2 (sheet music)

Airplay/Streaming (in millions): -- radio, 85.0 video, -- streaming

Awards (Led Zeppelin):

Click on award for more details.

Awards (Heart):

About the Song:

“Dazed and Confused” was the centerpiece of Led Zeppelin’s early live performances SJ but when they tired of it, the group set about creating another anthem. Little did they know that they would birth the song against which “all epic anthems must measure themselves.” RS500 The song consistently tops classic rock radio best-of lists and with over three million spins, no song has received more airplay in the history of FM radio. KN It has also sold over a million copies of sheet music, averaging 15,000 a year. WK

For all its accomplishments, “Heaven” was never released as a single. Its only chart appearance came in 2007 when it hit #37 on the UK charts, prompted by downloads of the song in conjunction with the release of the Led Zeppelin Mothership compilation. WK Atlantic Records certainly pushed for a single, but the band refused to edit the song down from its eight-minute running time. WK

The song kicks off with “an acoustic intro that sounds positively Elizabethan.” RS500 Robert Plant then vocally leads the listener through a “quasi-medieval story” TC “full of allusions that go nowhere,” TC although he says it is “about a woman who gets everything she wants without reciprocating.” TC It doesn’t matter much wat the song is about when it’s “couched in such a stately tune and performance.” TC Besides, “the song’s enigma is part of its charm.” TC

Guitarist Jimmy Page says the song “crystallized the essence of the band…Every musician wants to do something of lasting quality, something which will hold up for a long time, and I guess we did it with ‘Stairway.’” RS500

In 2012, Led Zeppelin were celebrated with the Kennedy Center Honors. The band Heart gave a notable performance, complete with a full-fledged choir, of “Stairway to Heaven” that had Jimmy Page grinning ear to ear and a very subdued Robert Plant wiping away a tear.


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Last updated 8/24/2022.

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