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Jimmy Page Shares the Story Behind "Stairway to Heaven"

Jimmy Page (Led Zeppelin)
“Stairway to Heaven” Led Zeppelin IV (1971)

“I’d been fooling around with my acoustic guitar and came up with different sections that I married together. But what I wanted was something that would have drums come in at the middle and then build to a huge crescendo. Also, I wanted it to speed up, which is something musicians aren't supposed to do.

"So I had all the structure of it, and I ran it by Jonesy [Zeppelin bassist John Paul Jones] so he could get the idea of it, and the on the following day we got in to it with [drummer John] Bonham.

"My sharpest memory of working on ‘Stairway’ was Robert writing the lyrics while we were hammer away at the arrangement. I was really intense. And by the time we came up with the fanfare at the end and could play it all the way through, Robert had 80 percent of the lyrics done. It just goes to show you what inspired time they were. We were channeling a lot of energy.”

Check out Led Zeppelin performing "Stairway to Heaven" live.

From the GW archive: This originally appeared in the February/March 2005 issue of Guitar World Acoustic.

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Acoustic Nation is written by Laura B. Whitmore, a music industry marketing veteran, music journalist and editor, who has contributed to Parade.com (opens in new tab), Guitar World, and others. She has interviewed hundreds of musicians and hosts the She Rocks Podcast. As the founder of the Women’s International Music Network (opens in new tab), she advocates for women in the music industry and produces the annual She Rocks Awards. She is the Senior Vice President of Marketing for Positive Grid, making the world safe for guitar exploration everywhere! A guitarist and singer/songwriter, Laura is currently co-writing an album of pop songs that empower and energize girls.