Page was responsible for almost all the music composition for the band, while Plant provided the lyrics and in 1970, the pair spent some time at Bron-Y-Aur, a cottage in a remote part of Powys, mid Wales. Away from the busy touring lifestyle, the cottage provided an ideal environment for creating music. It was here that Jimmy Page started to get the first ideas for what would become his most famous song.
After leaving the session in Wales, Page and Plant and the rest of the Band gathered at Headley Grange, in Hampshire, for rehearsals. Headley Grange - once a workhouse for the poor - was a popular recording and rehearsal venue in the 1960’s and 1970’s. Other bands that regularly used Headley Grange include, Bad Company, Fleetwood Mac, Genesis and Ian Dury. Today, Headley Grange is a private residence.
As the band sat around a huge log fire in the rambling old house, Plant began to write the lyrics, or rather, they began to write themselves. After his pen stopped moving, he just sat and looked at the paper. “I almost leapt out of my seat,“ he said.
Robert Plant has always been quite vague about the meaning of 'Stairway to Heaven,' except for the beginning of the song where it is clearly about a woman who accumulates a lot of money. She finds out the hard way that despite her riches, her life had no meaning and that her wealth would not get her into heaven. She was a woman getting everything she wanted but never giving anything back.
Beyond this, Plant gives no explanation for the song’s meaning saying only that people can interpret it the way they want to. “Depending what day it is, I still interpret it a different way – and I wrote it!”
Stairway to Heaven took quite a long time to write and Jimmy Page was getting journalists excited by telling them that the new epic song was likely to be 15 minutes long.
Eventually, in November 1971, 'Stairway to Heaven' was released as a track on the album Led Zeppelin IV.
After Plant implied that something else was moving his pencil for him, speculation circulated that it was Satan who was dictating the words. It was also rumoured that the song contains backward messages from the devil.
It’s no surprise that this song has accumulated many accolades, all over the world, including:
No. 1 - Classic Rock’s “Ten of the Best Songs Ever“
No. 1 – Guitar World’s “100 Greatest Guitar Solos”
No. 3 - VH1’s "The 100 Greatest Rock Songs of All Time
No. 8 – Rolling Stone magazine "100 Greatest Guitar Songs of All Time"
No. 31 - "The 500 Greatest Songs of All Time"
Led Zeppelin was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1995. The biography of the band in the museum states that during the 1970’s, they were as influential as the Beatles were, in the 1960’s.