Led Zeppelin And The True Story Behind Stairway To Heaven

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Led Zeppelin Stairway to Heaven

Led Zeppelin’s song “Stairway to Heaven” is one of the most well-known songs in the history of rock ‘n roll.  Almost every guitar store has at least one guy trying to play the opening part of Stairway; some stores have banned the playing of the song altogether. 

Robert Plant has always told the same story as to how “Stairway to Heaven” was conceived, but new details concerning the fabled creation of Led Zeppelins’ most requested song of all time slightly alter the sacred ground with which fans have walked for decades.

Most Led Zeppelin fans will be able to tell you that the song “Stairway to Heaven” was written in a cottage named Bron Yr Aur in Wales while Plant and Paige were writing for Led Zeppelin III and Led Zeppelin IV.

Bron Yr Aur thus became a place of pilgrimage for many Led Zeppelin fans dying to stand upon the sacred ground where Zeppelin wrote Stairway; wanting to hold or steal any piece of the storied cottage that they could get their hands on(the sign was stolen three times).

Fast-forward to 2014, the music group Spirit files a lawsuit against Led Zeppelin alleging that the opening acoustic guitar riff was stolen from their song “Taurus.” 

Lawsuits in the music industry occur all the time, so this may seem inconsequential. 

As in any lawsuit, the members of the band may be called to testify, they do, and not a ripple is made in the water.

Robert Plant was required to testify as to where ‘Stairway to Heaven’ was written.  Plant answers, Bon Yr Aur of course.. wrong.

Plant divulges that the Led Zeppelin song ‘Stairway to Heaven’ was never written at Bon Yr Aur at all.  According to his testimony, he wrote the famous song on his own and then showed it to the rest of Zeppelin at Headley Grange in Hampshire.

The Led Zeppelin song ‘Stairway to Heaven’ is still one of the greatest rock songs of all time. 

Written at Bon Yr Aur, at home, in prison, or on the Moon, it does not matter where it was written, but that is not the issue at hand here.

Led Zeppelin wrote incredible music because it was not just great rock, it was also deeply rooted in more than just what is heard coming out of the speakers.

Zeppelin built an aura of mystery through their music because their lyrics had mythological roots.  The band made many references to J.R.R. Tolkien writings, most often The Lord of the Rings. “Misty Mountain Hop” was taken directly out of a place that Bilbo Baggins visited in The Hobbit.

Bon Yr Aur was a cottage on a hill that could have been a place taken directly out of one of Tolkien’s writings; it fit the story of Led Zeppelin and ‘Stairway to Heaven’ perfectly.

The mystique of that story is gone now.  Most people who listen to Stairway to Heaven could care less about Bon Yr Aur, but there are some real Zeppelin fans out there that have to be a little surprised that this is how ‘The Stairway’ was built.

Led Zeppelin won the lawsuit against Spirit this past June 2016.

‘Stairway to Heaven’ by Led Zeppelin is the gold standard for legendary rock songs.  A tweak in the history of the classic song does not change everything it has always been, but let’s make sure we are making the pilgrimage to the right location this time.

-Chris McDonald

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