Led Zeppelin guitarist Jimmy Page has shared his memories of recording the band’s iconic track “Stairway To Heaven”. Page also revealed how he put together the track’s guitar solo from a “magical guitar”.
“Stairway To Heaven” featured on Led Zeppelin’s fourth album and Page explained just what exactly went into producing such a guitar solo for the classic track “Stairway To Heaven”.
“Your’re really living the track by then”
“I would invariably do guitar solos at the end, once the finished vocals and any overdubs were already on”, Page explained.
“Under the circumstances here, there’s a bass, an electric, 12-strings, recorders, a whole manner of things. I always put the solo on at the end because you’ve really living the track by then, and being the producer you’ve already supervised all the overdubs that have already gone on”, he said.
Page continued, “I basically got my Telecaster out to do that solo. Even though I’d been playing Les Pauls, I wanted to get that bite of the Telecaster on it. It was the same Telecaster that I’d played on the first album, the one Jeff Beck had given me that I’d used in The Yardbirds”.
“A bit of a magical guitar, really”, he added.
Page said that this solo was recorded “very quickly”.
“I just said: ‘Roll it’, took a deep breath – that’s what I usually do – and then go”.
He also added, “I had a couple of cracks at it, because you didn’t have as many options as you would have now. I worked out how I was going to actually come into it, the first two or three notes, but after that I didn’t work it out, I just played it”.
“A stream of consciousness”
Page also compared his guitar soloing on this epic album to a “stream of consciousness”.
“It’s ad-libbed just as much as it would have been in any of the live shows,”, he said.“After the recorded version was laid down on record, the solo would remain in a similar vein live, but not exactly the same. I was constantly changing it, mutating it, like we did with all the songs”.
He did insist that it “doesn’t mean I ever surpassed the one on the record”.
“It is what it is and you can tell that it’s just flying. It’s not a laboured solo, it’s not something that’s worked out, written down and read, it’s more like a stream of consciousness”.
“Stairway To Heaven”, was voted the greatest guitar solo of all time by Classic Rock Readers in 2016.
Jimmy Page’s genius guitar work can also be heard on another Led Zeppelin’s track “Whole Lotta Love”. That track finished first in the top ten guitar riffs in Total Guitar magazine recently.
The riff beat Malcolm and Angus Young’s riff from AC/DC’s “Back In Black” to win.
Which track do you think is Jimmy Page’s best work?