Stairway To Heaven was written in 1971 by English band Led Zeppelin and appears on their fourth studio album 'Led Zeppelin IV'. It is without a doubt one of the greatest rock songs ever recorded and continues to inspire generation after generation of new musicians. At 8.02 minutes in length it is packed full of twists and turns and is made up of many different sections. The song isn't for the faint-hearted and certainly does require some work if you want to play it like the original. As this website is all about fingerpicking we'll cover everything other than Jimmy Page's epic guitar solo.
The song itself isn't all that hard to play, it's all in the key of A minor and the chords aren't all that difficult - so long as you're ok with some mini barre-chords. The real challenge is memorising the whole thing; there are lots of different arpeggiated chords and plenty of small nuances all over the place.
Stairway To Heaven is no. 25 on my Top 60 Fingerpicking Songs of ALL TIME list. If you've not seen the list be sure to check it out and sign up to my weekly email lesson so you don't miss learning any of these great fingerstyle songs.
Stairway To Heaven Song Facts:
- Released 8th November 1971
- Recorded at Island Studios in London
- Written by Jimmy Page and Robert Plant
- Key - A minor
- Tempo - starts around 72bpm and gradually increases throughout
- Voted number 3 by VH1 on its list of the 100 Greatest Rock Songs in 2000
The intro to Stairway To Heaven is one of the most famous guitar parts ever written. Everybody, regardless of whether they've heard the entire song or not, knows this section. As I said, it's not too complicated in terms of the chords but you must try very hard to let each and every note ring into the next. One sure way to kill all the emotion of the song is to play these notes staccato.
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Here the song gradually speed up and moves to strumming. Watch out for the rhythm of the chords as it's very easy to get the timing wrong. You may also want to play this part with a pick, either way it doesn't matter.
This is a difficult/clever section of the song mostly because of the use of odd time signatures; they certainly didn't have to put in a bar of 5/4 or 9/8 but they did and it works great! Try hard to get this down with the song to make sure your timing is bang on!