The Led Zeppelin song “Stairway to Heaven” is one of the most popular classic rock ballads by those who are learning to play the guitar. Yet in some ironic or even comic twist of fate, the riff is banned or forbidden to be played in virtually all guitar shops. 

The song has a lot of controversies surrounding it. These controversies arose in the pop world, in the legal world, and even in the religious scene for a while. As for the true answer to the question, “Why is ‘Stairway to Heaven’ forbidden in guitar shops,” it’s most likely because the song is overplayed by musicians testing out new instruments, but here are some other wild reasons that may play a role in this as well.

Controversy 1: Who Exactly Owns the Song?

There was a copyright dispute over who exactly is meant to own the song. Michael Skidmore, the trustee of the Randy Craig Wolfe Trust, representing the band Spirit, filed a lawsuit against Led Zeppelin. This band claimed that the song “Stairway to Heaven” intro section was ripped off of one of their previous songs. This lawsuit was filed in 2014. According to Variety magazine, “a jury ruled in favor of Led Zeppelin in 2016, finding that the two songs were not substantially similar.”

Controversy 2: The Pastor Who Said He Heard a Message from Satan Hidden in the Song When He Played it Backward.

Well, that is exactly what happened. In the early 1970s after the song was released, a pastor had a lot to say about the song being “Satanized.” He claimed that the song had a devilish element hidden in it. He said that his proof for this declaration was that he played the song backward

That was when he heard a message about Satan hidden in the song. The message went along the lines of “So here is to my sweet Satan. …” As for whether the song contains messages for Satan or not, I have absolutely no idea. But come to think of it, what exactly led to the pastor playing the song backward anyway? Who does that?

The controversies go on and on. The song is a relatively cool one, though. In fact, it is so addicting that guitar shop owners all over the world would cringe and flip their tops if you play the song in their shops. 

An interesting fact about all these issues is that the most addicting part of the song is the intro that was claimed to have been ripped off. This song comprises a progression that slowly rises and quickly drops or resolves in a very short period. Besides, the piece was played by legendary guitarist Jimmy Page. For about a decade following the release of the song, Page was believed to be the absolute best guitarist of all time.

So as you can see, the song has a lot of history. It is easy to play and connect to. It is a confidence booster, especially for beginning guitarists. On all accounts, it is a stand-up song. But why is “Stairway to Heaven” forbidden? It’s all up to public opinion, I guess.