Why is Stairway to Heaven Banned in Guitar Stores?

‘Stairway to Heaven’ was a very popular song among people in the 70s and 80s. You have probably heard your father and his friends talking about it many times. Also, this song has become a controversial tune at that time and was termed as a ‘forbidden riff’. This is so because it was banned in many guitar shops.

So the question that threatened our minds is why is a stairway to heaven banned in guitar stores. Before processing find an answer to this question. We must know what ‘Stairway to Heaven’ is. This song was composed by ‘Led Zeppelin,’ and it was recorded in 1970 and released in November 1971. It was the most popular rock song of all time. Some people at that time termed it the greatest and most popular song ever recorded in the history of music. This article contains information about why is stairway to heaven banned in guitar stores

Why is ‘Stairway to Heaven’ so popular?

why is stairway to heaven banned in guitar stores

‘Stairway to Heaven’ was popular due to its duration. This is so because its playing time is around 7.5 minutes. This is the same as the time a person takes to complete a cigarette. This song was very popular on the radio and was termed a ‘cigarette break number’. It is mainly listened to by people while smoking a cigarette. Along with this reason, it was famous because of its soft tune, the was like ‘a delight to the ears. The track was popular among people of all age groups. It was the favorite track of many guitarists. The song was easy to learn and was not complicated. Also, its duration was small and elegant. This is the reason why it is considered the best rock and roll anthem of that time.

This song was termed as the ‘legendry solo’. This is so because it has amazing and beautiful vocals; the song is so soothing that if you hear it once it keeps on repeating in your mind for months. Yes! you read right. You will not be able to get over this amazing rock song for months. These qualities made it different from other songs of that time. Also, it was composed by the famous and talented artist ‘Led Zeppelin’. He was very popular and was known for his work in rock music.

One important feature of the song that differentiates it from other songs is the apparent gradual increase in the tempo of the song. This feature makes it a legendary solo. There are a lot more reasons to consider this song the best rock song to date. These reasons made it get banned in almost all guitar stores of that time.

The reason why the ‘Stairway to Heaven  was banned in guitar stores

why is stairway to heaven banned in guitar stores

As we all know, the stairway to heaven was on the tongue of every person. All the guitarists learned to play this song. Because its vocals are not complex and it’s easy to learn. Guitar shop owners and workers of the 70s and 80s got irritated by this tune. This is so because every guitarist who visited their store played the tune of the ‘stairway’. It does matter whether the person knows to play it or not. They played it on repeat, and it continued for months. Every guitarist used to play this song in the guitar store by having a check on the guitars. At first, the guitar store workers enjoyed the tune, but after some time it started irritating them. So they decided to ban this song in their guitar store. At present times also though it is not a strong ban if you try to play ‘Stairway to Heaven’ in a guitar store there are chances that you will be kicked out from the store.

As this news spread among the people, nobody knew the reason why is a stairway to Heaven banned in guitar stores. The main reason why this song is banned in guitar stores is due to a movie that debuted 20 years after the release of this song. The name of the movie was ‘Wayne’s World’. It was a musical comedy movie. It showed an incident in which the main actor of the movie who had a fascination with playing guitars tried to play the tune of ‘Stairway to heaven in a guitar shop. After, this one worker made him look at the board stating ‘No Stairway To Heaven’. The riff of the song played in that clip was entirely different from the actual riff, and it made the audience laugh.

Apart from comedy, one more reason why the original riff of the song was not played in the clip was due to some copyright issues. After the movie, the board that stated ‘No Stairway To Heaven’ became popular among all the guitar shops. This was nothing but just a joke, later people started taking it as a ban. Also, the guitar shop owners took an advantage of it, and ‘Stairway to Heaven’ was considered as a ‘forbidden riff’.

The Devil’s Song

why is stairway to heaven banned in guitar stores

As this song was popular among the people as a soothing and elegant tune some people believed it was the ‘devil’s tune’. They believed that this song was created by or for the devil himself. This is so because if you sing the lyrics of this song backward it sred many people as it sounded like “Here’s to my sweet Satan”, “Master Satan” etc. This is the reason people believed that playing or singing this song will invite the devil. So they termed it as a ‘forbidden riff’. Some people believed that this song is meant to please the lord of Underwood because it uses to provide a ‘satanic message’. This is the reason why people asked to ban this song in guitar stores and on radio waves. These supernatural beliefs can also be termed as the main reason why is a stairway to heaven banned in guitar stores.

What makes ‘Stairway to Heaven’ a forbidden riff?

why is stairway to heaven banned in guitar stores

The opening riff of the stairway to heaven is considered a forbidden riff. This was considered by the people who can’t even bear to hear this song. However, there are a lot more reasons for considering this song forbidden. The song was controversial because of its copywriting issues and its real author. Although the main owners of the song were Led Zeppelin and Jimmy Page. A band named ‘spirit’ claimed that ‘Led Zeppelin’ Zeppelin’ has stolen the lyrics of this song from their band. However, these copyright issues were solved after some time.

Another reason is the irritation developed by many people on listening to this song. Many people got tired of hearing this song on repeat now and then. Most of the young guitarists started playing this song as this provided a feeling of pride to them. As a result, the workers of the guitar stores were so tired of listening to this song that they can’t even bear hearing it. It was seen that the composer of this song himself got tired of listening to this song. So the song was considered a ‘forbidden riff’ and was banned in many guitar stores.


  1. Is stairway to heaven actually banned in guitar stores?

    If we look at this point technically, stairway to heaven is not banned in most of the guitar stores and also they don’t, have a board stating its ban. So more of banning stairway to heaven is a joke and not a real policy. But, many guitar shop owners claim to ban this song as they were tired of hearing this song on repeat. Every guitarist who used to come to their shop played the stairway to heaven.

  2. What is so special about the stairway to heaven?

    Stairway to Heavens was composed by a popular artist named ‘Led Zeppelin’ in 1970 and it was released in November 1971. The song gained popularity after it was played by a guitarist named ‘ Jimmy page’. It song has amazing vocals and it is soothing. It feels like a ‘delight to the ears’ to many people. The playing duration of the song is the same as the time taken by a person to finish a cigarette. This was also known as the ‘cigarette break item number’ because people used to listen to it while smoking cigarettes. Also, this track was very popular on the radio at that time.

  3. What are the forbidden riffs that aren’t allowed in guitar stores?

    Following are the names of some forbidden riffs that are banned to play in a guitar shop:
    Stairway to Heaven by Led zeppelin
    Smells like teen spirit by Nirvana
    Iron man by Black Sabbath
    Sweet Home Alabama by Lynyrd Skynyrd
    Nothing else matters by Metallica.

  4. Why is a stairway to heaven banned?

    This is so because of a movie that was released after 20 years of the release of the stairway to Heaven. The movie was a musical comedy, and it had a clip in which a person tried to play the nodes of the stairway to heaven on a guitar in a guitar store, and one worker made him point towards a board stating the ban of the stairway to heaven. Later this came to reality, and all the guitar shop owners put the same board in their shops because they were so tired of listening to this song that they couldn’t bear to hear it again.

William Larson
William Larson

Hi, I am William. I am a music enthusiast. I play the guitar and ukulele. I like to try out all instruments and review them, to help others make an informed decision. You must choose the right instrument to get that sweet sound you desire. When I am not on my instruments I will be found reading or cooking.

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