In 1970, Led Zeppelin band members Robert Plant and Jimmy Page wanted a new song to use as the centerpiece of their concerts. so they retreated to a cottage in Wales, as you do in these situations. And when they emerged, they had the genesis of the song that’s made so many “Best of…” lists, it’s actually created some backlash over the years, including from Robert Plant himself.

Despite being a single album, Led Zeppelin IV was originally packaged in a gatefold design, as though it was a double album. If you opened it out, this was the outside cover. That picture in the frame on the right is an oil painting!

The song proved so popular when the Album-Oriented Rock stations played it that people immediately asked, “Where can I buy this single?” And the answer was, You can’t. Go buy the album.

 

 

The inner gatefold; the only time their lyrics were printed anywhere on their albums.

The album was Led Zeppelin IV (or, just “the fourth album”, or Zoso if you like reading too deeply into things), and the song was “Stairway to Heaven” (because, duh). And while “Stairway” was never released to the public as a 45 single, the album sold like hotcakes, becoming one of the top ten selling albums of all time.

That’s not to say that there wasn’t a 45RPM record, however: a promotional copy was sent to radio stations (see below–note the small spindle hole), and a jukebox copy was created for play in those machines.

I’m sure you know the drill by now: If you have iTunes or some other podcatcher, you already have this one in your library. For downloading or listening while you’re doing other stuff, you can click on the player below.

And, naturally, every little bit of feedback helps!