What if Eric Johnson or Eddie Van Halen played Jimmy Page’s iconic Stairway to Heaven solo?

Eric Johnson plays Led Zeppelin's Stairway to Heaven
(Image credit: YouTube/Rick Beato)

Like Rick Beato, we’ve all asked ourselves the question, ‘What would it sound like if Eric Johnson played Jimmy Page’s iconic electric guitar solo in Stairway to Heaven?,’ right? Right?

Well, unlike Rick Beato, when we do ask ourselves this question, we don't just say, “So I thought, well, why don’t I call Eric Johnson and see if he’s into it?” But that's exactly what Beato does in this video.

That’s only the beginning – or, as you’ll see, the end – of the sheer awesomeness on display here.

Beato also takes a stab at the solo himself, only playing in the style of Peter Frampton, and he ropes in Bon Jovi guitarist Phil X to offer his own interpretation of how Eddie Van Halen would attack the part.

In typical Phil X manner, he goes all out, procuring a Frankenstrat for the proceedings and crafting a solo in which, he explains, “My approach came from, I was thinking 1981, 1982, after Fair Warning. Less phaser, less gain. I didn’t want it to sound like a quilt of Eddie Van Halen licks. It had to have a flow and everything had to make sense.”

That said, Phil continues, “if you listen closely you will recognize licks. You recognize, ‘This is from Push Comes to Shove, this is from Eruption, this is from Beat It,’ stuff like that”.

It all ends with the pièce de résistance – Eric Johnson playing the Stairway to Heaven solo in the style of, well, Eric Johnson.

Explains Beato, “One of the reasons I asked Eric to do this is because he has such an unmistakable style. I thought to myself, what’s it gonna sound like? And then in my brain I’m thinking these cascading lines, he’ll throw in some bass notes, chord forms, things like that. And it will be really melodic.”

Yeah, Rick, that’s pretty much exactly what it sounds like. And it’s ridiculously awesome.

To hear for yourself, check out the video above. And for more great Rick Beato vids, head to his official YouTube channel.

In other Stairway news, the copyright battle over the iconic intro to the song, which the estate of late Spirit guitarist and songwriter Randy Wolfe (aka Randy California) accused Zep of lifting from the 1968 Spirit instrumental, Taurus, has been settled in Zeppelin’s favor. More on that in Guitar World’s report.

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Richard Bienstock

Rich is the co-author of the best-selling Nöthin' But a Good Time: The Uncensored History of the '80s Hard Rock Explosion. He is also a recording and performing musician, and a former editor of Guitar World magazine and executive editor of Guitar Aficionado magazine. He has authored several additional books, among them Kurt Cobain: Montage of Heck, the companion to the documentary of the same name.