Why Is “Stairway To Heaven” Banned In Guitar Stores

Okay, so there is a modern folktale that the song “Stairway to Heaven” is banned in guitar stores. So in this article, we’re going to discuss whether this is myth or fact, and if it’s fact we’re going to talk answer the question “Why is “stairway to heaven” banned in guitar stores?”

Why Is “Stairway To Heaven” Banned In Guitar Stores

If you used to visit guitar stores a lot in the past, then you must be used to the fact that people always play “Stairway to Heaven” on demo guitars in guitar stores. This is done especially by those who just purchased a new guitar. 

It is almost like there is some memo that has been passed to make this legendary song the “theme song” at guitar stores. So, this begs the question, “why is “Stairway to Heaven” banned in guitar stores?” Why would one of the greatest hits in rock history, suddenly be blacklisted in one of the few places that have made it so relevant over the years? Why would guitar shops ban such legendry sound? Come on, it’s in the Grammy Hall of Fame for Pete’s sake! N

So, let’s get to it, shall we?

Origin Of The Song

First, allow us to go into the origin of the “Stairway to Heaven” song.

Stairway to heaven is a song that was written and performed by Led Zepplin in 1971 and has been considered to be one of the greatest rock songs ever produced in history. Popular opinion tilts towards the argument that “Stairway to Heaven” was the song that paved way for the era of progressive rock music, and there aren’t a lot of arguments about this, just general assent. 

One of the most catching elements of this song is how clean the intro is and the solo played on the electric guitar. This guitar intro is regarded as one a legendary ever created and this brought about a longing for upcoming guitarists to learn how to play “Stairway to Heaven’s” guitar riff. Hence, the reason why it quickly became overplayed. You cannot possibly step into a guitar store without hearing “Stairway to Heaven” being played. So, imagine how those store employees must feel hearing the same song played again and again.

It wouldn’t be surprising to find out that owners of guitar shops and their store employees are miffed about this never-ending repetition of “Stairway to Heaven”. But is this enough reason for them to ban the song? This is the dream of every newbie- to play “Stairway to Heaven”’s guitar riff on.

So, Is “Stairway to Heaven” Actually Banned From Guitar Stores?

We think the answer to this is quite obvious; No.

It is highly doubtable that the owner of your local guitar will toss you out of his store for playing the intro to “Stairway to Heaven” in his shop. That’s a recipe for losing business. We bet you that even to this day, if you walk into any of the guitar stores around you, you would still hear people playing the song.

Photo by Keith Wako from Pexels

Why Is There News About “Stairway to Heaven” Being Banned??

The whole idea of “Stairway to Heaven” cropped up from the popular 1922 movie “Wayne’s World”. There was a particular scene where Mike Myers (the main character), began playing the intro to “Stairway to Heaven” at a guitar store, after which he was cut short by the manager of the guitar store. The manager had pointed out that the song was banned from being played at the store.

Before this movie, guitar stores in the 1970s put up signs with a list of songs that had been banned. These songs were songs that were badly played by people who came into the store. Such songs included: Smoke on the water, Enter Sandman, Seven nation army, Message in the bottle, Iron man and a lot more, with “Stairway to Heaven” on top of such lists. However, as we stated earlier, no one got kicked out of a guitar store for playing “Stairway to Heaven”.

With the rise of the internet, you would think that people would know about this joke but it seems like that information hasn’t gone around. Or better still, why hasn’t this joke been forgotten after over 25years?

Social Media Meme Culture

Times have changed and with the rise of the internet and social media, nothing is forgotten, everything will be recycled one way or the other. Social media’s offset which is the meme culture is what has kept this joke alive for more than 25 years. 

Everyone knows that stairway to heaven is grossly overplayed in guitar stores and should such guitar related conversations come up, someone or a group of people will be quick to throw in a meme about “Stairway to Heaven” being banned in guitar stores.

Even the popular YouTuber with the pseudonym “ Music is win” also made funny renditions of several overplayed songs including the “Stairway to Heaven”.

Guitar Stores Get A Kick Out Of It

There is an ongoing trend amongst guitar stores where people are banned from playing certain songs while browsing through products in the store unless they can play the song from start to finish without making a single mistake. 

If you fail to do this, they will have a go at you. This is just all for fun by the way and it has been reported that “Stairway to Heaven” and “Smoke on the water” always top the list. 

This approach also makes for an excellent deterrent to people who play these songs that end up irritating potential customers in guitar stores.

There Is A Copyright Case Revolving Around The Song.

As the popular saying goes, any publicity is good publicity and this applies to the case of “Stairway to Heaven”. “Stairway to Heaven” probably has one of the most controversial copyright cases of all times in the music industry. For the last five years, it has been wrapped up in a copyright infringement case that has gotten the attention of the world especially lovers of the song. 

With this case, the rumor about a stairway to heaven being banned in guitar stores has been dredged back up and has begun to make waves on the internet.

With the Department of Justice taking Led Zepplin’s side in this suit, there is no chance that “Staircase to Heaven” will be forgotten anytime soon, with people rushing the internet to listen to this legendry sound. Guitar stores will keep buzzing with the idea that the song is banned because as more people go in to buy guitars, this sound will always be what they want to try out for various reasons.

Also, most people know nothing about copyright laws and feel like playing a sound that has copyright issues might be illegal thus causing another way of the rumor to spread. It sounds weird but it is highly probable.

It Appeals To Beginners.

Like we stated earlier, it is every beginner’s dream to play the intro to “Stairway to Heaven” and this enthusiasm they have will always promote the idea that the song is banned at guitar stores. This is because the joke about the song will crop up every time a newbie walks into a store to get a new guitar. Which is almost every time. They may even attempt to play some parts of the song thus continuing the vicious cycle.

It Can Be Poorly Learned.

Playing “Stairway to Heaven” from start to finish will require intermediate to advanced skill as a guitarist to be pulled off. However, most beginners feel like they can pull it off in the early stages and end up playing a poor rendition of the song, making it an easy target for the butt end of jokes and the rumors that ensue.

Photo by Markus Spiske from Pexels


The entire idea behind “Stairway to Heaven”  being banned is some sort of unwritten rule in the guitar community; a kind of store etiquette. Due to the overplayed nature of the song, it is only respectful that you refrain from just picking up a guitar and playing the opening riff to “Stairway to Heaven”, as that would be the 50th  time of it being played that day, and you will be a major annoyance for those working at the guitar store.

However, as we’ve explained, it’s not really banned. So, if your dream has always been to play that opening riff, then we’re glad to tell you that your dreams are still very much alive and valid. But don’t try to play it if you’ve not learned it properly, you wouldn’t want to look like an idiot if you do not know how to play the intro to this iconic song because you will get looked at like an idiot. Imagine the side glances and the annoyed stares that would be directed towards you.

Now that you know the right information about “Stairway to Heaven”, we hope that you will spread the message whenever the topic comes up. We trust that you will.