Watch Robert Plant Perform Rare Rendition of ‘Stairway to Heaven’
Plant’s performance included renditions of Led Zeppelin's “Thank You” and “Black Dog,” as well as Donovan's “Season of the Witch." Still, it was the unexpected rendition of “Stairway to Heaven” that was the unquestioned highlight of his appearance. Backed by Taylor and many of the night’s performers, Plant tore through the 1971 classic, much to the delight of the crowd in attendance. According to Setlist.fm, the last known time that Plant performed “Stairway to Heaven” was at Led Zeppelin’s 2007 reunion.
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“Bet I enjoyed that more than him,” Taylor joked at the end of the song, alluding to Plant’s uneasy history with the track.
“I know that in this contemporary age of digital stuff, there’s every likelihood that other people will see that,” Plant then quipped, before explaining that his rendition was dedicated to Taylor, the Cancer Awareness Trust and Led Zeppelin, “wherever they are.”
Watch Plant's performance of "Stairway to Heaven" beginning at 55:30 in the video below.
Robert Plant's Complicated History With 'Stairway to Heaven'
Despite being one of the most beloved songs in rock history, "Stairway to Heaven" has never been one of Plant's favorite Led Zeppelin tracks. In fact, the singer has often expressed dissatisfaction with the tune.
In 2019, Plant expressed respect for the “incredible” construction of the song. “The way that Jimmy [Page] took the music through, and the way that the drums reached almost climaxed and then continued.” Still, he wasn’t so flattering regarding his own contributions. “It’s a very beautiful piece. But lyrically, now, and even vocally, I go, ‘I’m not sure about that.’”
In a more recent interview, Plant admitted to feeling “estranged” from "Stairway to Heaven." “I’m now a voyeur. I’m not responsible for it anymore," the singer noted. "I’m not in guitar shops being told not to do it. I’m not going down the aisle at a wedding playing it with a flute.”
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Gallery Credit: Nick DeRiso