Jimmy Page Explains How He Structured ‘Stairway To Heaven’s Guitar Solo
Led Zeppelin lead guitarist Jimmy Page opened up about the legendary guitar solo of the band’s monumental track, ‘Stairway to Heaven’ during a recent interview with Classic Rock magazine and revealed the story of he created one of the greatest guitar solos to this day to which he referred to as ‘flying.’
As many of you know, ‘Stairway to Heaven’ is a track by Led Zeppelin, released on November 8, 1971, and was composed by the guitarist Jimmy Page and vocalist Robert Plant for their untitled fourth studio album, often called ‘Led Zeppelin IV.’ The song which has the classic Led Zeppelin style with the beginning with acoustic instruments and followed by electric instruments is often regarded as the most well-known rock song of all time.
The song is so successful and majestic that it was voted number three by VH1 on its list of the ‘100 Greatest Rock Songs’ in 2000 as well as being number 31 on Rolling Stone’s ‘500 Greatest Songs of All Time.’ Despite never having been commercially released as a single in the United States, the track was the most requested song on FM radio stations in the 1970s.
While there are numerous aspects of ‘Stairway to Heaven’ that make it incredibly special, one of the most significant highlights of this song is undoubtedly Jimmy Page’s guitar solo which is often considered to be one of the greatest ever both by fans and music critics including Guitar World magazine which rated the song’s guitar solo at number one in the list of ‘100 Greatest Guitar Solos in Rock and Roll History’ on 29 January 2009.
During a recent interview, Led Zeppelin guitarist opened up about the process of creating the guitar solo for ‘Stairway to Heaven’ and revealed that he used his ‘magical’ Telecaster for the iconic solo despite considering using his Les Pauls. Apparently, Page took a deep breath and dived into the creation of his guitar solo which has been his preferred method when it comes to composing a solo.
Unexpectedly, Jimmy Page revealed that the solo didn’t come out as planned within his first tries, however, thanks to constantly changing and improving it as the band laid down the guitar solo on the record, it eventually became the legendary solo we all know to be the greatest of all time. Page also stressed the fact that the solo isn’t just like every other one that has been worked on, it’s rather like a reflection of his consciousness which can be felt from the floating sound and its similarity to flying, according to Led Zeppelin guitarist.
Here is what Jimmy Page stated during the recent interview he joined:
“I basically got my Telecaster out to do that solo. Even though I’d been playing Les Pauls, I wanted to get that bite of the Telecaster on it. It was the same Telecaster that I’d played on the first album, the one Jeff Beck had given me that I’d used in The Yardbirds. A bit of a magical guitar, really.
I just said, ‘Roll it,’ took a deep breath, that’s what I usually do, and then go. I had a couple of cracks at it because you didn’t have as many options as you would have now. I worked out how I was going to actually come into it, the first two or three notes, but after that, I didn’t work it out, I just played it.”
“It’s ad-libbed just as much as it would have been in any of the live shows. After the recorded version was laid down on record, the solo would remain in a similar vein live, but not exactly the same. I was constantly changing it, mutating it, as we did with all the songs. That doesn’t mean I ever surpassed the one on the record. It is what it is and you can tell that it’s just flying. It’s not a labored solo, it’s not something that’s worked out, written down and read, it’s more like a stream of consciousness.”
While the story of how one of the greatest, if not the greatest guitar solo still to this date revealed how it’s a one-of-a-kind creation of pure feeling and genius of the iconic Jimmy Page, both the timeless solo and the track seem to remain as a fans’ favorite after all these years.
You can listen to ‘Stairway to Heaven’ right below.