Music

How ‘Stairway to Heaven’ Never Built the Billboard Charts Through Led Zeppelin’s Epic Run

Even right before Led Zeppelin produced its fourth album (aka Zoso aka 4 Symbols), the “Stairway to Heaven” trend experienced begun. On the band’s ’71 tour of North The usa, the Zep trotted out “Stairway” for the first time at its house absent from household, the L.A. Discussion board. The monitor acquired a rousing ovation.

That reception ongoing through the tour, and when Led Zeppelin IV strike file merchants in November ’71, income have been brisk. (It strike No. 2 in December.) On the album, “Stairway” sat in the showcase position, as the closing observe of facet 1.

Experienced Zeppelin been a band obsessed with hit singles, it would have trimmed “Stairway” down from its 8:02 runtime and watched it (most probably) soar to No. 1 on the Billboard charts. But Led Zeppelin did not operate that way.

In the subsequent years, “Stairway” totally dominated FM radio in The us. You couldn’t convert on the radio without hearing it as a result of the ’70s — and into the ’80s and ’90s (therefore its “ban” in Wayne’s World). Yet even with all that success, you hardly ever saw “Stairway” on the Billboard pop charts.

Led Zeppelin didn’t launch ‘Stairway to Heaven’ as a US or United kingdom single

Robert Plant and Jimmy Page of Led Zeppelin at Athletics Arena in San Diego, 1972 | Laurance Ratner/WireImage

Similar: Why Led Zeppelin Detailed an 8-Moment Music as 3:30 on Its Debut Album

It is not challenging why “Stairway to Heaven” by no means charted in The usa or the U.K. in the 20th century. Led Zeppelin in no way unveiled the music as a single, so enthusiasts could not get it as a record, and therefore it couldn’t go on the charts. (Billboard combines airplay and gross sales to decide chart positions.)

It wasn’t some form of internet marketing failure on Zep’s part it was by design. When the band begun out, Jimmy Web page realized that FM radio was the great outlet for the band’s extensive-kind approach to tunes. So the Zep retained its tracks as very long as they ended up meant to be and got the U.S. airplay in any case.

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As for sales, Zeppelin experienced that properly lined. If you wanted to hear “Dazed and Confused” or “Ramble On”, you experienced to obtain the album or go see Zep in live performance. Possibly way, you ended up likely to expend significantly more than the $1.99 you would on a one.

That process labored high-quality, with Led Zeppelin II (1969) and Led Zeppelin III (1970) the two hitting No. 1 on each sides of the Atlantic. The Zep wasn’t heading to modify its program with “Stairway,” its new signature music. If you preferred it, you had to buy the LP.

‘Stairway to Heaven’ drove the 35 million+ product sales of ‘Led Zeppelin IV’

Led Zeppelin holding gold records in 1972
Led Zeppelin gets gold discs right after a press meeting in Tokyo, 1972. | Koh Hasebe/Shinko Music/Getty Visuals

Zep’s “you have to buy the album” approach almost certainly hit its peak with “Stairway to Heaven” and IV. Nevertheless the album didn’t hit No. 1 upon its launch, it’s the band’s finest-providing album — and just one of the recording industry’s best-marketing LPs. (The RIAA has it as the No. 4 studio album as of February ’21.)

On best of the 23 million qualified delivered copies in the U.S., yet another 12 million revenue (conservatively) have been believed from other earth markets. It also stayed on the U.S. album charts (the Billboard 200) lengthier than any other Zep document.

All advised, Led Zeppelin IV expended 283 weeks (very well about 5 decades) on the Billboard charts. So no, Led Zeppelin never ever did get a No. 1 solitary in The united states. And the band’s complete blockbuster of an album did not strike No. 1. People benchmarks really don’t subject with a document that outsold each and every Beatles and Rolling Stones LP.

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