Why Stairway to Heaven is banned in Guitar Stores

Have you watched the movie Wayne’s World? Wayne’s World was aired back in 1992 and had this popular joke of banning Stairway to Heaven in it. You might be perplexed thinking are all the guitar stores following the movie’s concept of banning Stairway to heaven? Many of you must also be thinking about whether it had plagiarism issues or copyright complications.  To assure you all the problem is not that, in fact the reason why it is banned is very simple and funny. To know why Stairway to heaven is banned in guitar stores, check out our article!

Why is Stairway to Heaven so popular?

In the history of rock songs Stairway to Heaven is the biggest selling and record-breaking song ever. Any average song that is a sensational hit sold about 10,000 to 16,000 copies of cassettes and sheet music back in the 1970s.

However, Stairway to Heaven sold over a million copies of sheet music in the 1970s.  People loved the song, its compositions, its lyrics, and the vocals. Not just one of the greatest rock songs ever made, but many people also claim it transcends the biggest music that was ever created.

Who Composed Stairway to Heaven?

Stairway to heaven is the most popular rock song that was released in 1971 and sang by the popular English band named Led Zeppelin. The band’s guitarist Jimmy Page and lead vocalist Robert Plant composed the song. This was sung for their fourth album Led Zeppelin IV.

Reason Why Stairway to Heaven is banned

The reason is very simple, people are tired of hearing this song over and over again. They have banned it because they simply do not want to hear it anymore. Stairway to heaven used to be played in every radio, every club, it used to be the tune everyone had in their mouths.

Hence, all guitar stores have banned on it. They do not sell Stairway to heaven CDs any longer and they also do not permit anyone to play it in their stores.

Is Stairway to Heaven about drugs? 

According to many social scientists, the first three lines of Led Zeppelin’s famous classical rock song has a drug reference. The lines speak about a lady who is sure that everything that glitters brightly is gold and buying it will get her a stairway to heaven.

Many experts and social activists claim that the song refers to the Acapulco gold and buying it means getting high. And in the next line, it states is she finds all the stores closed she can get it by uttering only a word. 

However further research was also carried out by a group of psychologists in California. The group surveyed hundreds of teenagers some of them who have previously listened and some who have never listened to the song Stairway to heaven before.

They were presented with questionnaires and asked about associations with drug use. Teenagers whose favorite tune was the first three lines, made associations between drug use and the lyrics. This has angered many parents as they thought this hyped song was corrupting their child’s minds. However, this is not the main reason why the stairway to heaven is banned in guitar stores.
Why Stairway to Heaven is banned in Guitar Stores

Photo by: Joël Vogt

How an Essential Riff turned into an overplayed one

Do you remember how popular Despacito was during 2019? Every club, every music station, radio, party hall, wedding centers, and where ever you would step into had this song playing. People loved it too much, listened to it over and over again till it overflowed.

Would you play Despacito now at a music store? We are sure none of you would. Despacito has been overplayed, over streamed, and covered by millions of people around the word. However, Despacito was at peak of the music charts for 1 year nearly.

Imagine a song being played for almost a decade or more over and over again. Could you survive that? Yes, Stairway to Heaven was played in every music station for almost a decade.

Even though, it is the most iconic rock song ever created, highly notable for the guitar sections and the solo part on the electric guitar. Every child, teenager, to adult has played this during the 70s and 80s.  

Stairway to Heaven’s guitar intro is by far the most iconic riffs that has ever been written and played. During the 1970s and 80s, all guitarists picked this song, covered this riff and played it whenever they got the chance.

If you were to walk into a guitar store at that time, you would have heard people picking it up on their guitars, testing the iconic riff intro, or playing it at their heart’s content.

Photo by: MORAN

Is Stairway to heaven actually forbidden?

No song is banned or can be banned from music stores. You can find all songs in guitar stores. Do not be confused when people say Stairway to Heaven has been forbidden. They do not mean that, more like it is a phrase that people use.

No guitar store will kick you out if you play Stairway to Heaven in their store. Infact you will still hear many guitar enthusiasts, or newbie guitarists picking up the famous intro riff in a guitar store. So you must be wondering who do people call it forbidden right?

Many of you do not know this, but Stairway to heaven is a joke that runs in every guitar community. It started from the popular movie ‘Wayne’s World’ that was screen big time on Saturday Night Live Skit. There was one scene that particularly captured everyone’s attention.

It was the scene where the lead character started to play the iconic intro riff of Stairway to heaven as he walked into a guitar store. The character was stopped by the store’s manager who said that the song was banned and couldn’t be played there. This is where the phrase of “No Stairway! Denied!” started, and soon was the talk of the town. 

Everyone realized at how mainstream and popular the song was and it needed to be stopped playing. This is when people started to state the same thing as the manager from the guitar store in the movie “Stairway to Heaven, Denied!”

This news reached the guitar community and every guitar store stated the same thing to whoever played Stairway to heaven on their stores. This scene started this entire joke and is still being followed by guitar stores even though it has been more than 2 decades.

Reference videos:

If you want to watch the scene of the movie where it all began, check out these links. 


How did a 25-year-old joke last this long?

Thanks to social media, YouTube videos, and the enormous meme culture that goes around everyone knows this joke. Due to resharing and repeated posts of the joke ‘Stairway to heaven, Denied’! is known by teenagers from the 21st century too.

You will also find many youngsters who visit guitars stores to play Stairway to Heaven on purpose just to be funny or break a stereotype.

Since Robert Plant and lead guitarist Jimmy Page was sued for copyright cases of this song Stairway to heaven came into the light again. This song started to reemerge again into the hearts of guitarists and so did this joke.

Stairway to Heaven Copyright Issues

Recently Stairway to heaven has been on the limelight again, but for copyright issues. Mr. Wolfe’s trustee sued the lead vocalist Robert Plant and lead guitarist Jimmy Page of Led Zeppelin for their iconic song Stairway to Heaven.

They were initially accused of plagiarism from the song “Taurus” which was written by Mr. Wolfe in 1968. Given Stairway to heaven’s popularity, this copyright case ended up being one of the biggest scandals in the world of music.

This issue of copyright did not stop fans from playing the popular intro riff. The copyright case has been going on since the last 40 years. The fact that the song resurfaced on the new again reminded everyone of the old joke that used to be in cracked in every music store.

Do you want to play the intro from the Stairway to Heaven?

Amidst all the chaos surrounding this song many of us whole-heartedly love this song and want to pick up the intro on our guitars. For those of you who were looking for tips on how to cover the intro check this video. The video contains all the tricks and tips on how to play the iconic intro from Stairway to heaven like a pro.


After reading this article, you should know why Staircase to Heaven is banned in guitar stores. Will you still choose to play it? As a guitarist you should not be bothered by jokes, play them whenever you want. However, don’t go on bursting everyone’s ears with this song.

You can also learn How to Change Your Guitar Strings

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