Today in 1999 Led Zeppelin’s 1971 song Stairway to Heaven was voted at #1 in Classic Rock magazine’s readers’ poll of the “Ten Best Songs Ever”. This wasn’t its first #1 ranking, and it continues to top music polls still today. The eight-minute song is considered a musical masterpiece and is one of the most-played rock tunes of all time. There are no official numbers available, but as of July 2008 it’s estimated “Stairway” had been played on the radio over 3 million times; equal to more than 45 years of uninterrupted airtime. It’s also thought to be the best-selling piece of sheet music in rock history.
Jimmy Page has himself commented on the song’s legacy:
“The wonderful thing about Stairway is the fact that just about everybody has got their own individual interpretation to it, and actually what it meant to them at their point of life. And that’s what’s so great about it. Over the passage of years people come to me with all manner of stories about what it meant to them at certain points of their lives. About how it’s got them through some really tragic circumstances… Because it’s an extremely positive song, it’s such a positive energy, and, you know, people have got married to [the song].”
Robert Plant however, has become less enamored with the song over the years, refusing to sing it anymore. “There’s only so many times you can sing it and mean it,” he has said. He even supposedly once gave a radio station in Portland $10,000 to never play the song again.