Talk:Stairway to Heaven

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Former featured article candidate Stairway to Heaven is a former featured article candidate. Please view the links under Article milestones below to see why the nomination failed. For older candidates, please check the archive.
Article milestones
Date Process Result
November 30, 2005 Peer review Reviewed
December 4, 2005 Featured article candidate Not promoted
December 15, 2008 Articles for deletion Speedily kept
Current status: Former featured article candidate
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Neutrality (backwards masking)[edit]

I don't believe the back masking section is neutral. Specifically more rebuttal needs to be placed in it. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 23:00, 12 March 2010 (UTC)

I think the comments from the sound engineer and the band put this (non-)issue into exactly the right context, and I'm wondering how much more rebuttal is required? Even if they are reported to have denied it 1000 times, it's still the same denial, and it would be unhelpful to report them all, or indeed, more than we have already. Unless you can come up with something more concrete, I propose that this tag is removed, but I will leave it there to give you an opportunity to do so. Rodhullandemu 23:06, 12 March 2010 (UTC)
I agree with removing the tag. The article doesn't say there were hidden messages, only that people "claimed" there were hidden messages, which they did. Those claims were denied by the record company, a recording engineer and the lyricist/singer, what more can be added? Piriczki (talk) 14:15, 13 March 2010 (UTC)
Totally in agreement. The article is almost completely neutral. remove the banner soon unless wishes to expand on the reasons for lack of neutrality.
Having read the section, there are a few bits I'm not happy with. The use of "some" in the first line is a bit of a weasel word. I went to the backmasking page and stole some text (and didn't do it well as I'm a bit tired) and punched it roughly into the section to produce the following. It would need cleaning up and refs adding from the page. Anyway, any comments?
In 1981, Christian DJ Michael Mills began stating on Christian radio programs that Led Zeppelin's "Stairway to Heaven" contained hidden messages that were heard by the subconscious. Allegations of demonic backward masking. were also made by social psychologists, parents, and critics of rock music, as well as the Parents Music Resource Center (formed in 1985), which accused Led Zeppelin of using backmasking to promote Satanism On the April 28, 1982 edition of the CBS Evening News, Dan Rather discussed the finding of possible backmasked messages, and played reversed sections of songs by Led Zeppelin, Electric Light Orchestra and Styx.
In 1982, the Consumer Protection and Toxic Materials Committee of the California State Assembly held a hearing on backward masking in popular music, during which "Stairway to Heaven" was played backwards. During the hearing, William Yarroll, a self-described "neuroscientific researcher", claimed that backward messages could be deciphered by the human brain.[1]
The web page for Alabama group Dial-the-Truth Ministries argues for the existence of Satanic backmasking in "Stairway to Heaven", saying that the song contains the backward message, "It's my sweet Satan ... Oh I will sing because I live with Satan."
The alleged message, which occurs during the middle section of the song ("If there's a bustle in your hedgerow, don't be alarmed now...") when played backwards, was purported to contain the Satanic references "Here's to my sweet Satan" and "I sing because I live with Satan".[2]
Various versions of the alleged message exist.[3] One such interpretation reads:

Oh here's to my sweet Satan.
The one whose little path would make me sad, whose power is Satan.
He will give those with him 666.
There was a little tool shed where he made us suffer, sad Satan.[4]

The band itself has for the most part ignored such claims; in response to the allegations, Swan Song Records issued the statement: "Our turntables only play in one direction—forwards". Led Zeppelin audio engineer Eddie Kramer called the allegations "totally and utterly ridiculous. Why would they want to spend so much studio time doing something so dumb?"[5] Robert Plant expressed frustration with the accusations in a 1983 interview in Musician magazine: "To me it's very sad, because 'Stairway to Heaven' was written with every best intention, and as far as reversing tapes and putting messages on the end, that's not my idea of making music."[6] --Candy (talk) 09:57, 14 March 2010 (UTC)

Candy: It would be nice if we could get some of the other versions you mention , for comparison. Similarly, what does the song sound like backwards without any "backmasking"? Would we here the same message? Spiker 22 (talk) 22:41, 4 June 2010 (UTC) spiker_22

Spiker_22: You can find them for yourself. I'm not able to be a gopher for what your are referring to. As to backmasking and backwards they sound the same. Backmasking implies that there is a deliberate hidden message. Backwards the song sounds like, "gyusus shgai whurwhur sjios ssssheeiaia qipoz". To some one who claims it's backmasking it sounds like, "Kill everyone and suck their blood vampire king".
Seriously, wither you haven't followed the links or you are trying a wind up. Play the songs backwards yourself if you want to see if this is true.

Candy (talk) 00:58, 7 June 2010 (UTC)


I had rewritten much of this section some time ago so perhaps I can illuminate some things here. I agree "some" is a weasel word but it was used only because there were a number of evangelists making these claims but none necessarily seemed any more prominent or authoritive than the others and the original "discoverer" of these various hidden messages is unclear, if not unknown. I had removed mention of specific people, such as Michael Mills, because it was apparent they were just one of many making the claims with no particular notability.

As for expanding this section, my concern is that it would give undo weight to the subject. One must remember, "Stairway to Heaven" was one of many rock songs included in these allegations of hidden messages that purportedly promoted drug use, promiscuity and Satanism. "Stairway" was probably just the most well known song and therefore garnered more attention.

As for the CBS Evening News report, the date is the same as the Los Angeles Times report referenced for the California State Assembly hearings so it is likely about that same subject which is already covered in the article. I see no reason to mention every media report about the hearings.

Finally, I don't think any latter day web sites rehashing these claims are noteworthy. I suppose someone will always want to revive these allegations from time to time but it will always be nothing more than "a headline in search of a story." Piriczki (talk) 14:51, 14 March 2010 (UTC)

Hi Pirizcki. I agree with what you are saying, It makes sense. I hadn't researched the history of backmasking very much. (I do remember when it was first raised we played our turntables backwards but most of what we heard tended to be "hrumff him hum grogh ug org goff" .) However I think we should remove "some". It's very unwiki-like. What about including when this was first brought up/raised and then shoving the onus on more investigation/information onto the backmasking wiki section? It was probably close to waht it was before but I'm not fully happy with what was there.
Agreed. Unless someone can come up with a reliable source for this nonsense, it is unworthy of mention. Rodhullandemu 01:03, 7 June 2010 (UTC)
The concerns raised above have since been addressed but one further step might be to remove the block quote following "Various versions of the alleged message exist. One such interpretation reads..." The quote being one of various interpretations only emphasizes its speculative nature and the web site cited probably doesn't meet WP:RS. Piriczki (talk) 14:30, 7 June 2010 (UTC)
Tick, tick, tick. Suggest give it 5 more days from today and if there is no objection remove the "neutrality" sticker? --Candy (talk) 23:35, 15 March 2010 (UTC)
I tried to tighten up the language and added specifics to eliminate the weasel word. More could be added but it would be more about backward masking in general not necessarily "Stairway" in particular. Piriczki (talk) 18:53, 16 March 2010 (UTC)
Over a month later and no interested editors or visitors have objected to my removal of the POV neutrality banner. Hence, it is now depixelated.... --Candy (talk) 18:27, 23 April 2010 (UTC)


  1. ^ Billiter, Bill. "Satanic Messages Played Back for Assembly Panel" Los Angeles Times April 28, 1982: B3
  2. ^ Arar, Yardena. (AP) "Does Satan Lurk in the Backward Playing of Records?" St. Petersburg Independent May 24, 1982: 3A
  3. ^ Blecha, Peter (2004). Taboo Tunes: A History of Banned Bands and Censored Songs. Backbeat Books. p. 51. ISBN 0879307297 Check |isbn= value (help). 
  4. ^ Milner, Jeff. "Jeff Milner's Backmasking Site". Retrieved 2006-06-09. 
  5. ^ Davis, Stephen. The Hammer of the Gods (1985) p. 335
  6. ^ Considine, J.D. "Interviews". Retrieved 2006-06-07. 


There could be more covers added to the list, but how do you decide which ones are "notable"? For example, is Pat Boone's version notable (on In a Metal Mood)? What about Ann Wilson's (on British Rock Symphony)? Alexbook (talk) 15:34, 25 March 2010 (UTC)

The word "notable" as used in WP is totally subjective and arbitrary. It should be abolished.
If this song was recorded by the Chipmunks, or the Mormon Tabernacle Choir, or John Ashcroft, then fine. There should be a subarticle that lists them all, without the application of this ridiculous "notable" filter.
Varlaam (talk) 18:11, 20 January 2012 (UTC)


Is this really classic rock? It starts more like soft rock, or folk rock, goes into classic rock and ends in the mood of hard rock / heavy metal... —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 13:14, 9 April 2010 (UTC)

The album's cover art has been, "covered" in a spoof: The "Stairway to Heapdom" album by "Click and Clack" of National Public Radio's "Car Talk" program. [1] Does anyone think that is worth a mention? Dfdeboer (talk) 05:25, 20 March 2013 (UTC)


Old religious image of stairway to heaven...[edit]

Church of Madonna di Campagna, Verbania, Piedmont, Italy

AnonMoos (talk) 18:25, 26 December 2010 (UTC)

And this from the Church of Satanism...!? :-P Scieberking (talk) 18:57, 7 April 2011 (UTC)
And there is the traditional architectural and artistic theme called Jacob's Ladder.
Satanism, no one gives a damn except Jimmy Page.
Varlaam (talk) 18:16, 20 January 2012 (UTC)

I don't think the opening includes panflutes.[edit]

I remember reading several articles that said they used recorders, not panflutes. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 18:49, 6 April 2011 (UTC)

Actually, Jonesy contributes string section, keyboards, flutes, and also wooden (not plastic) recorders that are being used on the song intro if you clearly notice. Cheers. Scieberking (talk) 18:52, 7 April 2011 (UTC)

Singles chart[edit]

The table seems to be ordered randomly. It should have an order. How about alphabetical? Varlaam (talk) 18:05, 20 January 2012 (UTC)

Good idea. You can arrange it in an alphabetical order. Cheers. Scieberking (talk) 19:17, 20 January 2012 (UTC)


Archived discussions

Why don't archives appear the standard way? Varlaam (talk) 18:20, 20 January 2012 (UTC)

Writing section[edit]

An article in the Independent on 7th April 2012 reproduces a rumor that Stairway was written after the Church of Scientology tried to get the band to join. Marty Rathbun, ex-Scientologist, told the newspaper "There's an old rumour, from the 1970s, that Yvonne Jentzsch, who founded the Church's Celebrity Centre, tried to convert Led Zeppelin," he says. "The band got the sales pitch, and didn't buy, but later wrote "Stairway to Heaven" about Scientology. If that's true – and I'm not saying it is – I'd have to agree with Led Zeppelin. Scientology has become a stairway to heaven."

Is this claim worthy of a mention? Is there any evidence to support Marty Rathbun's story? We have a national newspaper that has chosen to reproduce the story, so a citation is possible, but that's about all.--Singe onion (talk) 07:00, 13 April 2012 (UTC)

At best the source only confirms there was a rumor, and that is based on the recollection of just one person. The other version is that the Scientology connection came from the Incredible String Band. I think the whole thing is a little too light on details to be included and seems kind of speculative anyway. Piriczki (talk) 13:29, 13 April 2012 (UTC)
Fair enough. Thanks for reading and commenting.--Singe onion (talk) 11:00, 14 April 2012 (UTC)

Please add Stanley Jordon, Jazz (Greatest Hits) to cover. tony york — Preceding unsigned comment added by Tonyyork30 (talkcontribs) 02:04, 16 April 2012 (UTC)

Dread Zeppelin's version[edit]

Doesn't get a reference? — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 10:32, 1 July 2012 (UTC)

April 2013[edit]

i apologize, I don't know how to edit in Wikipedia, I do know about the backmasking topic though. The reason why the zeppelin backmasking drew so much attention is because it was not backmasking. The track is clearly understandable frontwards and backwards, and can not be a studio trick, because anything played backwards sounds unintelligible. Either he used an uncanny word syllable manipulation ability when singing or as the preachers said, it was supernatural. You should include a link to audio or video of the reversed message and let people make up their own mind. (talk)

Jimmy Page tells BBC how they wrote it[edit]

In case it's useful for verifying this article's claims, on 10 October 2014 the BBC published Jimmy Page's account of how they made Stairway to Heaven here, with their YouTube video here. One minor point I noticed is that the final line has "buying the stairway" and not "buying a stairway" as this article has it. I have not found a lyrics source that gets the lyrics 100% right, but rock.genius and guitarfasttrack both have the last line right. -84user (talk) 19:54, 11 October 2014 (UTC)

Folk melody?[edit]

What's the "folk melody" at the start? Shouldn't the article say? Paul Magnussen (talk) 19:06, 16 January 2015 (UTC)

I think "folk melody" is a reference to style, not to a particular song. The wikilink on the word "folk" takes the reader to a page talking about the style. Bob Caldwell CSL (talk) 19:15, 16 January 2015 (UTC)
That might be a melody in a folk style (I have my doubts). But that does that really justify a genre of "folk rock"? What exactly does the Cramer (2009) source actually give? Martinevans123 (talk) 18:30, 16 February 2015 (UTC)
There are two issues confused here. It is one thing to say that the intro is reminiscent of folk melodies and another to classify it as a folk-rock song. I would agree with the former and disagree with the latter. Bob Caldwell CSL (talk) 18:42, 16 February 2015 (UTC)

Folk rock genre[edit]

Is the genre of "folk rock" justified? What exactly does the Cramer (2009) source actually give? Martinevans123 (talk) 18:46, 16 February 2015 (UTC)

I would say it is not justified and would support the removal of the "folk rock" category. Bob Caldwell CSL (talk) 13:38, 17 February 2015 (UTC)
I cannot see what the Cramer source says, but in The North American Folk Music Revival, Welsh historian Gillian Mitchell says, "Led Zeppelin's most famous song, the evocative 'Stairway to Heaven', used recorders to create a folk sound and was allegedly inspired by the works of fantasy writer J.R.R. Tolkien."[1] Billboard magazine published a story in '72 titled "English Folk Artists", and in the final paragraph they say that Led Zeppelin has been "revived, transformed" by traditional elements of English folk, exemplified by "Stairway to Heaven".[2] The Oxford University book Rock: A Canadian Perspective, says that Zep demonstrated "an interest in folk music, particularly the traditions of the British Isles." The book continues by giving "Stairway" as a prime example, ending by saying "For many fans in Zeppelin's audience, the combination of rock physicality and folk mysticism in 'Stairway to Heaven' created something akin to a sacred experience." In the young adult book Led Zeppelin: Legendary Rock Band, author Michael A. Schuman says, "While some tracks on the fourth album are folk and others are rock, “Stairway to Heaven” blends the two genres." ISBN 9780766030268. So there's a fairly wide acknowledgement of the folk influence shown by this song. Binksternet (talk) 18:31, 17 February 2015 (UTC)
Thanks Binksternet, for that thorough research. That all seems support enough for the "folk Style" for the recorder passage (even though I've always thought of it as "courtly/ medieval"). But do you think this means the entire song can be called "folk rock"? Maybe Canadians think this a convincing "combination", I'm still not sure that justifies that genre in the info box. Martinevans123 (talk) 20:05, 17 February 2015 (UTC)
"Folk rock" is traditionally understood to be an American phenomenon, basically using electric instruments for American folk music. The folk music elements of "Strairway to Heaven," especially the recorders, comes from British folk music which is somewhat different than American folk. I think this is why some of us have a problem with applying this category to "Stairway." It doesn't match the common definition of "folk rock." The article for Fairport Convention lists a category "Electric folk" which covers the British version of using electric instruments to present English folk music. Since the "electric folk" category exists, perhaps it would be a better representation of what's going on in "Stairway." What do you think? Bob Caldwell CSL (talk) 20:16, 17 February 2015 (UTC)
Slightly better but still rather sceptical. I mean, maybe the genres can apply to elements within songs, but the song as a whole strikes me as firmly "hard rock". I'd be tempted to say "Classic rock", but this seems to be a "radio format" not a genre. Martinevans123 (talk) 20:33, 17 February 2015 (UTC)

External links modified[edit]

Hello fellow Wikipedians,

I have just added archive links to one external link on Stairway to Heaven. Please take a moment to review my edit. If necessary, add {{cbignore}} after the link to keep me from modifying it. Alternatively, you can add {{nobots|deny=InternetArchiveBot}} to keep me off the page altogether. I made the following changes:

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N Archived sources still need to be checked

Cheers. —cyberbot IITalk to my owner:Online 17:47, 17 October 2015 (UTC)


The article says that community radio station KBOO once promised that they would never play "Stairway to Heaven" again if they received a $10,000 donation, which Robert Plant contributed. But why would a station whose "mission is to serve groups in its listening area who are underrepresented on other local radio stations and to provide access to the airwaves for people who have unconventional or controversial tastes and points of view" have ever played one of the biggest hits in the history of album-oriented rock and classic rock in the first place? It seems possible to me that the station was partially making a joke, promising not to play a song that they wouldn't have wanted to play anyway. --Metropolitan90 (talk) 00:09, 7 December 2015 (UTC)

Actually, Plant said they would never play "Stairway to Heaven", not that they would never play it again. It was probably more along the lines of the typical NPR or PBS type of pitch where they say if you want us to continue our type of programming (i.e. not playing "Stairway to Heaven") please send us your pledge. That paragraph presents a very exaggerated version of this story and needs to be rewritten. Piriczki (talk) 14:14, 7 December 2015 (UTC)
Thanks, your edit was an improvement. --Metropolitan90 (talk) 04:07, 16 December 2015 (UTC)

External links modified[edit]

Hello fellow Wikipedians,

I have just added archive links to 5 external links on Stairway to Heaven. Please take a moment to review my edit. If necessary, add {{cbignore}} after the link to keep me from modifying it. Alternatively, you can add {{nobots|deny=InternetArchiveBot}} to keep me off the page altogether. I made the following changes:

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N Archived sources still need to be checked

Cheers.—cyberbot IITalk to my owner:Online 05:59, 8 February 2016 (UTC)