Why is Stairway To Heaven banned in guitar stores?

But just why is Stairway To Heaven banned in guitar stores? It’s not. It’s just really, really frowned upon.

Arguably the greatest rock band of all time, Led Zeppelin’s lead guitarist, Jimmy Page, and frontman, Robert Plant, composed the tune and the band recorded it for their fourth album, Led Zeppelin IV in 1971, and, like the band, the song is now regarded as one of the great rock tunes.

What I find most interesting about the song is not its history of guitar store mishaps, but the rumours that swirled about the band’s use of backmasking to turn the song into a satanic homage. In the early ‘80s, allegations surfaced that the band used the technique of backward masking to add the following references in the song, but only when played backwards (you can hear it played backwards here): 

“Here’s to my sweet Satan / The one whose little path would make me sad whose power is Satan / He’ll give, he’ll give you 666 / There was a little tool shed where he made us suffer, sad Satan.”

Robert Plant went on to vehemently deny the allegations, but it makes for an interesting footnote on the history of the song nonetheless. 

Back to the original question — Why is Stairway To Heaven banned in guitar stores? — it’s not really banned. It’s just that so many people have walked into guitar stores and played the opening riff to the song over the past fifty years that store owners, staff, and other guitar devotees are now over hearing it. The discontent brewed to such a level that some store owners even hang signs warning patrons not to play the riff. And the cultural phenomenon was enough to earn it a satirical skit in the 1992 cult classic, Wayne’s World. 

Bottom line is, it’s not illegal to play Stairway to Heaven in guitar shops, but do it at your own risk. 

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