Why Is Stairway To Heaven A Forbidden Riff? (Among Others) Sunday August 7 2022, 11:45 PM
Yona Marie
Singer, Songwriter, Producer.
Why Is Stairway To Heaven A Forbidden Riff? (Among Others)

Why Can't You Play Stairway To Heaven?


You may have heard about a few music stores that have banned people from playing certain guitar riffs anywhere near the area. It's not like these songs are bad or anything, but it's more about the shoppers, who are likely beginner musicians, that come in and test out instruments. Stairway To Heaven is one of the first songs that newbies will flock to since it's pretty easy compared to other classics. This is more of an inside joke among guitar players and those who have worked in a guitar store. 

Bad Renditions Are Often Heard


Imagine how a beginner guitarist will sound when attempting to play Led Zeplin. It's not likely to sound that great to anyone, especially the people that work at the store. Now imagine hearing a new beginner, day after day, sucking on the guitar. Not great! The poor folks working at the store may have started out as big fans of the hit, but they began to hate it more daily. 

The Song, In General, Is Overheard


You may be wondering, "What if the song is played well or played in a recording? Does it count?" Now even though hearing the riff done well is much more pleasing than hearing an out-of-tune newbie, the song itself can get played out. Too much of anything is bad for you, and it doesn't matter if it's the original recording or a talented local guitarist playing in the store. Music fans complained that is was played too much, even on the radio. 

Where Did This Rule Originate?


A London guitar shop in the 1970s started this trend of banning certain songs, including "Stairway To Heaven", from being attempted by musician shoppers. A couple of decades later, the trend really grew in popularity when the movie "Wayne's World" featured a clip where actor Mike Myers played an annoying shopper who gets "denied" for the attempt. 

Which Guitar Stores Loosely Follow This Rule?


Most guitar shop workers at any store will have heard of this rule, but don't fear: it's not serious. Ultimately, if you're a potential customer looking to buy a guitar, they will let you play anything you want. Sure, you may get an eye roll, but you will not get kicked out of the place or anything. If you're looking to get on the employee's good side, though, for whatever reason, try to avoid it. Even mentioning it in a joke is better than actually playing it. 

Other Forbidden Riffs In Music Stores


"Stairway To Heaven" isn't the only song that guitar store workers are sick of hearing customers play. Any song that you can think of that that was way too popular and had a really good guitar part, you can just add it to the list. The more the song is known, the less they would want to hear it in the store. Other songs mentioned along with Led Zeplin's single include:

Smoke On The Water - Deep Purple

The Beatles - Blackbird

Smells Like Teen Spirit - Nirvana

Iron Man - Black Sabbath

Sweet Home Alabama - Lynyrd Skynyrd

Enter Sandman - Metallica

Wonderwall - Oasis

Seven Nation Army - The White Stripes

Sweet Child O’ Mine - Guns N’ Roses

Back In Black - AC/DC

Nothing Else Matters - Metallica

What To Play As a Beginner In A Guitar Store 


Don't want to annoy the workers at your local guitar shop? The first step is to realize that there's no need to try to impress people there. Many beginners and pros try to go to a music store and play an instrument to show off to who they're with or strangers around them. Instead of trying to make the experience something relatable, play something that is personal to you. You can play chords and hum along to one of your own song creations or simply play through scales. You could even freestyle if you feel comfortable enough to do so!



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Yona Marie

As a session singer, writer, and producer that has worked with over 200 clients to provide high-quality jingles, singles, features, nursery rhymes, and DJ drops, she currently spends her time engulfed in creating and marketing new music and helpful resources for creators. Her most recent creative collaborations include work with PBS Sound Field, Tribe of Noise, and the National Black Chamber of Commerce. Check out Yona’s latest music releases on her Spotify, her Youtube and share the music if you like it!

If you are ever in need of singer, songwriter or song producer services for your music project or brand, see what Yona Marie can offer you on her song services page. As an Amazon Associate, Yona Marie earns from qualifying purchases. Amazon and other affiliate products are recommended to genuinely help readers and keep this site up and running as well.



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