Dopers old enough to remember rock radio in 1971: Did you recognize "Stairway to Heaven" as a instant classic?

I wish I knew! I only remember those two, though there were probably a couple of others.(The I.C. intro wasn’t used more than the first few times the song was played, as I recall, so though I listened to the radio a lot, I may have missed a few.) But as I said, very few songs got that intro. Likelihood to reach #1 was surely part of it, but it was obviously not the only criteria, as plenty of #1 hits didn’t get the designation.

The Instant Classic thing didn’t last long. I don’t recall hearing it in 1971, when “Let’s Get It On” was released, and I know it was over before 1972 and “Papa Was a Rolling Stone.”

Maybe some other Chicago Doper will remember better than I.

“Kerrang” magazine said of StH, “If you put this on your stereo to seduce someone, you will not be having sex.”

More recently, the “Zits” comic had a series of strips where Jeremy, who’s 15, had figured out the opening chords on his acoustic guitar, and his mother proudly says, “You were conceived to that song!” He then does things like rinse out his ear canals under running water, etc.

Next day, he goes to school and tells his best friend about this, and said BF says, “My parents told me I was conceived while blueberry muffins burned in the oven” and then he turns green upon seeing a rack of them in the cafeteria.



Though, according to “Fast Times at Ridgemont High”, side one of LZ IV (which does feature “Stairway…”) is the same thing as “Kashmir” anyway.

I’ve always thought that was deliberate. That Rat was so inept, he couldn’t even play the correct album.

That’s what I was going to say as well. Usually I always felt something along the lines of “This is an amazing song!” and usually one of “This band is amazing; that other song they did is also great!” or “Who is this band?” I can’t say I’ve ever heard a classic song and thought “This is a classic.” because that’s something that time would have to tell.

Yes, they basically turned a problem into a feature on that one. Certainly it was very Ratner.

Even on AM radio DJs played non singles at odd times. Casey Kasem would play ELPs Lucky Man sometimes IIRC based on the shows running time. Zep would have a good chance to get played that way.

It was known as a classic song just by the fact that the DJs played it as a non hit and non single in the early 70s.

They used to have labor day countdowns of the top 300 all time songs, by listener vote on WRKO I think. On the 1972 survey it was #217 all time, with no other LZ tunes making it. In 73 I recall it in the top 5 all time songs. By the 80s it was #1 on some surveys.

I think the industry recognized it as special, and it transcended the non 45 status.

I’m too young to answer the question, so fellow Dopers will just have to settle for an analogous example pertinent to my generation: Nirvana’s “Smells Like Teen Spirit.” I can’t remember the first time I heard it, but I do remember how much hype there was around it. MTV played it all the time, and people in my high school class would mention it fairly frequently. Although I never liked it that much (it is still one of my least-favorite Nirvana hits), I understood that it was a huge record that would be remembered for a long time.

I was in college at the time and SLTS was memorable enough that I distinctly remembered it the next time the radio played it a week after I heard it, but it was neither much better or memorable than the rest of the stuff the college radio station played. The third time I heard it they prefaced it with “and now this is a huge hit, but we’re still playing it cause it’s a great song”, and I was pretty amazed because I didn’t know it was a hit up until that point and would not have assumed that it was going to transcend into the larger culture.

Won my friends $50 in free beer at a bar trivia contest by being the only one sober enough to recognize the line ‘our shadows taller than our souls’ from Stairway.

My younger sister stopped listening to “new” music when she was in her early twenties. Once I was watching the Dancing in the Dark video, and she stopped to listen. She said that guy had real talent and would probably go far. :rofl:

As for Stairway to Heaven it got so overplayed that I can barely listen to it today. I just got burned out on it…kinda like Hey Jude, for a lesser example. KMET used to do a top 100 (?) every year based on listeners’ votes, and number one was always STH. Boooooring.

What’s “SLTS”?

More than 20 years after it made that band a one-hit wonder, I still sometimes hear Dishwalla’s “Counting Blue Cars” on rock radio. :interrobang:

Smells Like Teen Spirit.

That’s what I thought.

The problem in recognizing Stairway in 1971, was that there were a hell of a lot of instant classics that year.

Janis Joplin
Alice Cooper
The Doors
Leon Russell
Rod Stewart
Allman Brothers
Moody Blues
John Lennon
And probably 30 or more I could name

Everyone of them had at least one album with at least one track (usually several) that we were sure would be played and replayed forever. And of the artists listed, you probably know Lennon’s Imagine, Stewart’s Maggie Mae, Aqualung, by Jethro Tull, and maybe LA Woman and/or Love Her Madly by the Doors.

Maybe you’ll occasionally hear one of the great tracks from Pearl, or something from one of the others. But, just to name one, Tarkus from Emerson, Lake & Palmer was considered a magnum opus at the time, but a footnote today.

Hheehee, I’m too young for Stairway, but I remember SLTS’s ascendancy. I hung out with some musicians who were well connected enough to get a copy of the single sent to the radio stations. I liked Bleach a lot, but ehh, that didn’t have the same thing going for it. A friend of mine who ran a studio heard it too and his reaction was “Did somebody release their demo? That thing is produced horribly!”

So, you’re not alone. In fact, if I love what you’re doing, and you want to be popular, you might want to think about going in another direction…

And who would have thought that not only was Nirvana’s heart and soul really owned by the drummer, who would go on to have a massively successful career after the singer’s untimely but not all that surprising death, AND perform at a presidential inauguration 30 years later?

I’ve heard the song thousands of times, and I didn’t recognize that line. I thought, “Where is it?” and as I guessed, it was in the falsetto section.