A radio station promised that the station would never play Stairway to Heaven again if someone made a $10,000 donation.
In 2004, Rolling Stone magazine put it at number 31 on their list of “The 500 Greatest Songs of All Time”. An article from the 29 January 2009 Guitar World magazine rated Jimmy Page’s guitar solo at number one in the publication’s 100 Greatest Guitar Solos in Rock and Roll History. Since 2001, the New York City based classic rock radio station Q104.3has ranked “Stairway to Heaven” no. 1 on their annual “Top 1,043 Classic Rock Songs of All Time”.
Erik Davis, a social historian and cultural critic, commented on the song’s massive success, subsequent backlash and enduring legendary status:
“Stairway to Heaven” isn’t the greatest rock song of the 1970s; it is the greatest spell of the 1970s. Think about it: we are all sick of the thing, but in some primordial way it is still number one. Everyone knows it… Even our dislike and mockery is ritualistic. The dumb parodies; the Wayne’s World-inspired folklore about guitar shops demanding customers not play it; even Robert Plant’s public disavowal of the song—all of these just prove the rule. “Stairway to Heaven” is not just number one. It isthe One, the quintessence, the closest AOR will ever get you to the absolute.
Page has himself commented on the song’s legacy:
The wonderful thing about “Stairway” is the fact that just about everybody has got their own individual interpretation to it, and actually what it meant to them at their point of life. And that’s what’s so great about it. Over the passage of years people come to me with all manner of stories about what it meant to them at certain points of their lives. About how it’s got them through some really tragic circumstances … Because it’s an extremely positive song, it’s such a positive energy, and, you know, people have got married to [the song].
Robert Plant once gave a radio station $10,000 to never play the song again. During a pledge drive for listener-supported radio station KBOO (Portland, OR) a DJ had promised that KBOO would never play the song again for that size of donation. Plant heard the pitch and decided to accept. He was station-surfing in a rental car he was driving to theOregon Coast after a solo performance in Portland and was impressed with the non-mainstream music the station presented. One can only imagine surprise at the station to both the bequest and the caller, though Plant claims he used a credit card belonging to an executive at Atlantic Records, his label. Asked later “why?” Plant replied that he liked the tune well enough, but he’d heard it.