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The ‘Incredible’ Moment Jimmy Page Knew ‘Stairway to Heaven’ Would Be a Hit


Jimmy Page (right) performs with Led Zeppelin in May 1975, nearly four years after an incredible moment proved to him 'Stairway to Heaven' would be a huge hit.
Led Zeppelin guitarist Jimmy Page | Michael Putland/Getty Images

Jimmy Page pulled out all the stops on ‘Stairway to Heaven’

Led Zeppelin’s first three albums had several songs that broke the six-minute barrier. Yet “Stairway to Heaven” was their first epic in the truest sense. It was unlike any other song they’d done up to that point.

The folk-inspired acoustic opening that turns electric, the sped-up time signature (

Jimmy Page and Led Zeppelin wrote dozens of all-time classic tunes during their career, but “Stairway to Heaven” stands above the rest. Page, perhaps knowing the Led Zeppelin IV tune would be a massive hit, pushed John Bonham so hard during the recording session that the drummer lashed out at him. Between recording IV in early 1971 and its release late in the year, Page experienced an “incredible” moment that let him know “Stairway to Heaven” would be a huge hit.

Led Zeppelin guitarist Jimmy Page | Michael Putland/Getty Images

Jimmy Page pulled out all the stops on ‘Stairway to Heaven’

Led Zeppelin’s first three albums had several songs that broke the six-minute barrier. Yet “Stairway to Heaven” was their first epic in the truest sense. It was unlike any other song they’d done 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 blend of several instruments made it a standout in the Zeppelin repertoire to that point. Page played several guitars on “Stairway to Heaven.” He used two 12-string guitars to produce slightly different sounds as he played the same notes. The guitarist had his famous double-necked Gibson built so he could play the song live without having to switch instruments.

Page knew “Stairway to Heaven” would become something special because he experienced an incredible moment with the song well before Led Zeppelin IV’s release in November 1971.

Page experienced an ‘incredible’ moment that proved ‘Stairway to Heaven’ would become a massive success

RELATED: Why Seeing Jimmy Page and Led Zeppelin in Concert Was ‘Exquisite Torture’ for Another Rock Legend

Led Zeppelin divided the recording sessions for Led Zeppelin IV between the Headley Grange country house and Island Studios (per the band’s website) from November 1970 through February 1971. Yet the album didn’t come out in the United States until November 1971.

Still, Page recalled an “incredible” reception when the band first played the song live for U.S. fans. Led Zeppelin played the first of back-to-back shows at The Forum in Inglewood, Calif., and fans took to “Stairway” immediately, as George Case writes in Led Zeppelin FAQ:

“This is Zeppelin’s all-time classic and undoubtedly one of the finest tracks by any group this year.” – NME, November 1971.
“Stairway to Heaven” – The History of Led Zeppelin IV – Episode 4 pic.twitter.com/Dq6rUuK7xt

— Led Zeppelin (@ledzeppelin) November 12, 2021

“Its U.S. debut during the 1971 summer tour of North America quickly alerted the band to the significance of what they’d come up with. At [the] Inglewood Forum on August 21, more than two months before Led Zeppelin IV was released, Jimmy Page remembered a ‘sizeable’ standing ovation after the piece was premiered.

“I thought, ‘This is incredible, because no one’s heard this number yet. This is the first time they’re hearing it.’ It obviously touched them, you know.” 

Jimmy Page describes the incredible moment he knew “Stairway to Heaven” would be a hit

“Stairway to Heaven,” with Page’s …read more

Source:: Showbiz Cheat Sheet

      

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