From “Whole Lotta Love” to “Immigrant Song,” Led Zeppelin has produced a multitude of outstanding masterpieces during their career. However, the legendary song “Stairway to Heaven” by Led Zeppelin is considered to be one of the greatest examples of classic rock music ever written.
If you play the song “Stairway to Heaven” in a guitar store, you may expect the disgruntled employees to clench their teeth and roll their eyes at you. Why is this?
Why is Stairway to Heaven ‘Banned’ in Guitar Stores?
As a result of the fact that the guitar riff in “Stairway to Heaven” is one of the most iconic guitar riffs ever created, it is also one of the most popular guitar riffs that aspiring guitar players study.
Because of this, the music quickly became overplayed to the point where you couldn’t walk into a guitar store without hearing someone playing it as they were trying out a new guitar. This was an indication of how popular the song had become.
Now, whenever anyone hears aspiring guitar players play the beginning of the music, they are not impressed in the slightest, and they frequently make jokes at their expense for being “that guy.”
“No Stairway! Denied!”
It is interesting to note that the concept of Stairway to Heaven being prohibited from being sold at guitar stores was first introduced in the 1992 film Wayne’s World. It was a sketch from Saturday Night Live that was adapted for the big picture.
In one particular scenario, the main character, which was portrayed by Mike Myers, was in a guitar store when he started playing the beginning of “Stairway to Heaven.” The manager of the store then stopped him and informed him that the song was not allowed to be played there. Because of this, the well-known statement “No Stairway! Denied!” was initially spread around the guitar community.
Is the Track Forbidden in Guitar Stores?
No, the song is not prohibited from being played in guitar stores at all. It seems extremely unlikely that the proprietor of a guitar business would ask people to leave for no other reason than the fact that they played the beginning of the song “Stairway to Heaven.”
The joke has been going around for quite some time in the world of guitar! Visitors have taken the joke about the prohibited riff seriously, thus guitar stores no longer allow people to play Stairway to Heaven.
What Came First, The Joke or The Movie?
The question of which came first, the chicken or the egg, is at the heart of the controversy surrounding the “banning” of the song “Stairway to Heaven” at guitar shops. There is a good likelihood that this joke was based on a real-life experience that one of the members of the writing crew for Wayne’s World had. This is because the Wayne’s World writing staff was composed up of many humorous former cast members and writers for Saturday Night Live.
However, it should be noted that jokes and novelty signage of this nature are not completely out of place at a music store.
When you think about it, almost every guitar store you’ve been in has had at least one or two novelty signs up on the wall somewhere. These typically have phrases such as “Hippies Use the Backdoor” or “Real Men Play the Blues” written on them, or they may pay tribute to local musicians and previous gigs.
Keeping this in mind, it is not out of the question that Wayne’s World merely made one of these signs more well-known by including it in one of its episodes. It is true that you can now purchase unofficial “NO STAIRWAY TO HEAVEN” signs from a variety of retailers, including this one on Etsy. This is the case regardless of the scenario you choose to consider.
So, What Makes Stairway to Heaven the “Forbidden Riff”?
Now things are about to start getting interesting. The origin of the name “Forbidden Riff” for the opening notes of “Stairway to Heaven” is a mystery that no one has been able to solve. Since the song’s initial release in 1971, however, fans have generated a wide variety of intriguing speculations about its meaning.
People Just Got Tired of Hearing It
Another, more plausible explanation is that “Stairway to Heaven” is not allowed at certain guitar shops because the employees became sick of always being forced to listen to it. This is extremely credible, as anyone who has ever set foot inside a guitar store will attest to the fact that amateur efforts at renowned guitar riffs can sound much like nails on a chalkboard. This is a point that is widely accepted.
When you stop and think about it, the vast majority of young guitarists continue to play their instrument because it fills them with a sense of both pride and joy. This is true regardless of how grounded they are. In addition to this, finger-picking is a terrific way to impress friends, family, and even people of the opposite sex, especially if you can do it well.
Learning “Stairway to Heaven,” which features one of the most recognizable guitar riffs of all time, is virtually essential for any guitarist who aspires to achieve a certain level of renown and earn a rite of passage.
Because they have been exposed to so many different renditions of the forbidden riff, the vast majority of the staff members working at guitar stores no longer experience it as music. This is true even if it does sound awesome when you play it in the basement of your parent’s house.
In point of fact, “Stairway” was such a big success that even the lead singer of Led Zeppelin, Robert Plant, grew bored of having it played everywhere. The plant stopped his car in the middle of his drive down the west coast of the United States and gave a $10,000 donation to the radio station KBOO in exchange for the promise that they would not play the song ever again.
We believe that Plant was fair value for the money, despite the fact that he used a credit card. When all is said and done, more than 37 million copies of Led Zeppelin IV have been sold.