Listen to Jimmy Page’s instrumental ‘Stairway to Heaven’ from 1988
Since Led Zeppelin’s split following the premature passing of the legendary John Bonham in 1980, the decade that followed would see the three surviving members careers follow different professional paths. Jimmy Page was reluctant to head straight into a solo career like his bandmate Robert Plant, the guitar God instead only released one solo album to date.
The 1980s were an odd time for Page as he dipped his toes into several different rivers to discover what it was that he wanted to do following the split of Led Zeppelin. The first of his ventures in the ’80s would be in 1981 with the short-lived supergroup XYZ with ex-Yes members Chris Squire and Alan White — but they would split before the very same year.
He then founded The Firm, who was active from 1984 until 1986 and featured Free’s frontman Chris Rodgers with whom he released two successful records. The Firm got Page’s creative juices flowing once more and reignited his passion for music which had begun to waver in the preceding half-decade.
Page was finally ready to go solo and unleashed Outrider to the world in 1988 which saw him enlist the help of John Miles and Chris Farlowe on vocals apart from on ‘The Only One’ which Robert Plant featured on. The album was not a commercial hit despite Page being a formidable guitarist, as ever, on the release.
His solo tour that he took flight on to promote the album was of mass acclaim, however, with Page delivering career-spanning set’s charting back to his days with The Yardbirds. However, the most memorable moment in his live shows came when the musician delivered a spine-tingling instrumental masterclass of ‘Stairway to Heaven’ with Jason Bonham on drums.
‘Stairway to Heaven‘ would be the set closer for this tour, which undoubtedly will have left the punters pining for more from Page but how can you top this? The decision to do it as an instrumental version speaks volumes about the guitarist’s respect for Robert Plant’s incredible vocals on the original and Page’s live rendition is a truly magnificent alternate version.
“To me, I thought ‘Stairway’ crystallized the essence of the band. It had everything there and showed the band at its best… as a band, as a unit. Not talking about solos or anything, it had everything there. We were careful never to release it as a single. It was a milestone for us.” Page proudly professed to Rolling Stone in 1975, adding: “Every musician wants to do something of lasting quality, something which will hold up for a long time and I guess we did it with ‘Stairway’.”
If Jimmy Page believes that ‘Stairway to Heaven’ is his proudest moment and his magnum opus, then who are we to disagree? Check out the mindblowing instrumental version from 1988 in Arizona, below.