Ann Wilson Reveals How Robert Plant First Reacted To ‘Stairway To Heaven’ Cover

Ann Wilson Reveals How Robert Plant First Reacted To ‘Stairway To Heaven’ Cover | I Love Classic Rock Videos

via Ann Wilson of Heart / Youtube

On December 2, 2012, the rock band Led Zeppelin was honored at the Kennedy Center Honors event in Washington, DC, recognized by President Barack Obama. During this prestigious ceremony, the band members of Heart, led by sisters Ann and Nancy Wilson, performed a tribute by covering Led Zeppelin’s iconic song ‘Stairway to Heaven.’

Led Zeppelin’s Heartfelt Approval

The performance was not only a musical tribute but also an emotional moment for everyone present, especially the members of Led Zeppelin. In a revealing interview with The Howard Stern Show, Ann Wilson disclosed Robert Plant’s initial reaction to their rendition of the song. She shared a memorable exchange from the dinner following the event, where Plant complimented their performance.

“So, at that dinner, Plant actually let us know that he usually hated people’s covers of ‘Stairway,’ but he liked that one. He said, ‘You guys pulled it off,’” Ann explained.

Adding to the positive feedback from the band, Nancy Wilson recounted a compliment from Led Zeppelin guitarist Jimmy Page about her guitar skills during the performance. She was thrilled when Page acknowledged her effort, saying,

“And then Jimmy Page goes, ‘Wow, you kind of nailed the guitar part. Really great!’ And I was like, ‘Oh my God! Oh my God! I just heard that from [Jimmy Page].’ I could die.”


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Jason Bonham’s Participation and Led Zeppelin’s Reflections

The choice of Jason Bonham, the son of Led Zeppelin’s original drummer John Bonham, to play the drums for Heart’s performance was poignant and significant. John Bonham’s death in 1980 was a deep loss for the band, and having his son play with Heart added a layer of sentimentality to the tribute. Nancy Wilson reflected on the impact of this decision,

“I think a lot of the emotion between the guys was not just about the song itself, but also us having Jason Bonham on the drums. He was the little kid who grew up around Led Zeppelin’s practice rooms. And he played with Heart for quite a while. Then the reveal of the smaller choir, the larger choir, then the orchestra. It was really well put together. If anybody deserved a tribute like that, it’s Led Zeppelin.”

The event coincided with the 43rd anniversary of Led Zeppelin’s debut album, which added a layer of nostalgia to the occasion. Robert Plant shared his feelings about the event and Heart’s performance in an interview with LA Weekly. He expressed how surreal it was to hear his song performed at such a grand scale and reflected on his journey as an artist.

“I knew we did a lot of damage to people’s brains and eardrums, and I knew we wrote some great songs, but it was a very humbling experience,” Plant said. Regarding Heart’s rendition, he remarked, “When I saw Heart perform ‘Stairway To Heaven,’ I just couldn’t believe that song had anything to do with this 64-year-old man that was sitting next to John Paul Jones. I thought to myself, ‘This is me… How did this happen?’”

The tribute performance by Heart at the Kennedy Center Honors not only brought tears and pride to the members of Led Zeppelin but also proved to be a profound recognition and celebration of their musical legacy, as demonstrated by Heart’s passionate performance and the emotional reactions it elicited.

Watch the performance below: