Robert Plant Sings 'Stairway to Heaven' for 1st Time in 16 years

Is that a bustle in your hedgerow or are you happy to hear this?

Robert Plant surprised everyone when he sang "Stairway to Heaven" on Oct 21, after swearing off performing the iconic tune 16 years ago.

“I’d break out in hives if I had to sing that song in every show," he told the LA Times in 1988. "I wrote those lyrics and found that song to be of some importance and consequence in 1971, but 17 years later, I don’t know. It’s just not for me.”

Robert Plant performing Stairway to Heaven after putting it on the shelf for 16 years.

The former Led Zeppelin singer was performing Saturday at a benefit when he rolled out the rock classic. An Evening with Andy Taylor and Special Guests, was organized by Duran Duran's original guitarist who was diagnosed with stage 4 prostate cancer in 2018.

The show benefited the organization, Cancer Awareness Trust, which works with people throughout England And Wales.

Despite its unusual song structure, length, and recommended use of a 12-string/6-string double neck guitar, it's been covered 3,017 times by 288 artists.

Led Zeppelin performing Stairway at Madison Square Garden as seen in the film The Song Remains the Same.

Led Zep performed it 271 times; just below them is Jason Bonham, drummer John's son, at 166 times; Heart has belted it out 131 times.

A cover that literally brought tears to Robert's eyes was when Heart played it with Jason on drums at the Kennedy Center Honors.

"I knew we did a lot of damage to people's brains and ear drums, and I knew we wrote some great songs, but it was a very humbling experience," Plant told the LA Weekly about receiving the honor from President Barack Obama.

"When I saw Heart perform 'Stairway To Heaven,' I just couldn't believe that song had anything to do with this 64-year old man that was sitting next to John Paul Jones. I thought to myself, 'This is me…how did this happen?'"

The Smashing Pumpkins do it with Billy on piano. They've covered it 43 times.

The punk supergroup Me First & The Gimme Gimmes trim it down to under 3 minutes. They've covered it 27 times.

The guitar duo of Rodrigo Y Gabriela have also covered it 27 times.

Dolly Parton recorded it in 2002 for her Halos and Horns album, but her husband, Carl, wasn't crazy about it, she said recently.

"He always loved the 'Stairway To Heaven'. He loved Led Zeppelin," she told Parade. "And years ago, I did 'Stairway To Heaven' as a bluegrass, gospel thing and Carl, I played it to him and he said, 'I think that's a little more like 'Stairwell To Hell' than 'Stairway To Heaven.'"

Dolly is giving it another go in her forthcoming album Rockstar where she duets with some of her favorite artists as they cover some of the classics. Lizzo will be joining Dolly for the Zeppelin tune.

Robert Plant is heading back out on the road next week with Suzi Dian. The 75-year-old legend will be playing 14 shows in November throughout the UK. Tickets available through his website.

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Last updated: 28 Feb 2024, 15:07 Etc/UTC