Robert Plant, like pretty much every rock fan, was blown away by Heart’s now iconic cover of  “Stairway to Heaven.” The cover happened back in 2012 when Led Zeppelin was part of that year’s Kennedy Center Honors class. The performance was fronted by Ann and Nancy Wilson and featured Jason Bonham, the son of John Bonham, on drums.

Plant was asked what his “stream of consciousness” was while watching the performance in a recent interview with VultureHe said, in part, “It was just something that I’d never, ever thought I would look at from this gallery. I didn’t ever see myself as smarting around seeing an artist’s impression of it. I knew it was coming — the Kennedy Center told us to expect something — but I didn’t know how it was going to be. It was a spectacular performance. I’m now a voyeur.”

Plant added, “I’m not responsible for it anymore. I’m not in guitar shops being told not to do it. I’m not going down the aisle at a wedding playing it with a flute. I love the song. It came upon me and stripped away all the years of being a part of all that. It just rubbed it right back to the bone. Because maybe it was all over for us a long time before it was all over. It was definitely all over without John. I mean that. We’re talking here about one song from 50-plus years ago. It’s just a magnificent performance to watch and it kills me every time. It kills me in two or three different ways. It’s just like, ‘Oh my God.'”


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The feeling of awe is a mutual one. In December 2020, Vulture asked Ann Wilson about the magical cover. She said, “I actually felt every second of it as a real, not to overstate it, but pretty damn close to orgasmic in terms of bliss. I felt wide awake and alive, and I felt the emotional content of the song all the way down to the ground. It was really authentic. The emotions involved in performing that were wide awake and in the moment.”

Ann also noted, “After the show there was a dinner for all of us, and all of the people who performed were there with the honorees. Robert, Jimmy, and John Paul were having dinner next to us and Robert said to me, ‘I usually hate it when people try to cover ‘Stairway to Heaven.’ But I like your version.’ That meant so much to me, because it could’ve gone any way, you know? I’ve worked with John Paul before, and he’s such a gentleman. He was also friendly and open about it, as was Jimmy. Listen, Robert and Jimmy are the guardians of the Zeppelin gate. You really want approval from them.”

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Erica Banas is a rock/classic rock news blogger who's well-versed in etiquette and extraordinarily nice. #TransRightsAreHumanRights

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