Stairway to Heaven (Live At The Kennedy Center Honors 2012) ~ Ann and Nancy Wilson

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On Dec. 26 the 2012 Kennedy Center Honors was aired on national television for the first time on CBS. During the event, which took place at the Kennedy Center Opera House, Ann Wilson and Nancy Wilson of Heart performed Led Zeppelin’s “Stairway to Heaven” with Jason Bonham on drums.

The honor is given to those in the performing arts for their lifetime of contributions to American culture and in 2012 the surviving members of Led Zeppelin (John Paul Jones, Jimmy Page and Robert Plant) were among those honored. During their segment, the Foo Fighters performed “Rock and Roll,” Lenny Kravitz performed “Whole Lotta Love,” and Kid Rock performed both “Babe I’m Gonna Leave You” and “Ramble On”.

The performance of “Stairway to Heaven” began with Ann and Nancy Wilson of Heart performing the song with a backing band, which included Jason Bonham on drums. He is the son of Led Zeppelin drummer John Bonham, who passed away in 1980. As the song progressed, back-up singers, a string section, and the Joyce Garrett Youth Choir came on stage to help perform “Stairway to Heaven”.

The choir members and Jason Bonham were wearing bowler hats, which was a tribute to the band’s late drummer John Bonham. Throughout the performance lead vocalist Robert Plant was noticeably moved, and towards the end of the song he had tears in his eyes.Jason Bonham loved the fact that Led Zeppelin didn’t know he’d be drumming on Stairway To Heaven at their Kennedy Center tribute night, hosted by US President Barack Obama. Bonham performed with Heart and an all-star band — and the first Plant, Page and Jones knew of it was when they saw him walk on stage. He said:

“It was so incredible to see their faces, sat there next to the president. The guys knew who was playing — but they didn’t know I would be on drums. Their faces lit up, and the smiles and tears… It was fantastic. What a way to close the show!”

There has never been as good of a band as Led Zeppelin, and there will probably never be one like them again.  Robert Plant was my hero back then, the fantasy life, the mystical.  Jimmy Page could play a guitar like nobody else, John Bonham was a master on the drums.  John Paul Jones?  He could play anything.  Together they made magic that has lasted for decades.

If any band deserved to be honored it would have to be Led Zeppelin.

There’s a lady who’s sure all that glitters is gold
And she’s buying a stairway to heaven
(And) when she gets there she knows if the stores are all closed
With a word she can get what she came for

Ooh ooh ooh…ooh…ooh ooh ooh
And she’s buying a stairway to heaven

There’s a sign on the wall but she wants to be sure
‘Cause you know sometimes words have two meanings
In the tree by the brook there’s a songbird who sings
Sometimes all of our thoughts are misgiven

Oooh…It makes me wonder
Oooh…It makes me wonder

There’s a feeling I get when I look to the west
And my spirit is crying for leaving
In my thoughts I have seen rings of smoke through the trees
And the voices of those who stand looking

Oooh…It makes me wonder
Oooh…And it makes me wonder

And it’s whispered that soon, if we all called the tune
Then the piper will lead us to reason
And a new day will dawn for those who stand long
And the forest will echo with laughter

Woe woe woe woe woe oh
If there’s a bustle in your hedgerow
Don’t be alarmed now
It’s just a spring clean for the May Queen
Yes there are two paths you can go by
but in the long run
There’s still time to change the road you’re on

And it makes me wonder…ohhh ooh woe

Your head is humming and it won’t go — in case you don´t know
The piper’s calling you to join him
Dear lady can you hear the wind blow and did you know
Your stairway lies on the whispering wind

And as we wind on down the road
Our shadows taller than our souls
There walks a lady we all know
Who shines white light and wants to show
How everything still turns to gold
And if you listen very hard
The tune will come to you at last
When all are one and one is all, yeah
To be a rock and not to roll
Ooooooooooooh

And she’s buying a stairway to heaven

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  • Audio from the  2012 Kennedy Center Honors:

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About DJ Allyn

DJ Allyn is a burned out radio guy who went on to become a burned out sound engineer for a few Seattle area grunge bands in the 1980s and 1990s. Left the madness of worldwide tours with bands, cleaned up my act and went into the relative sanity of sound engineering for television series. Currently working as the Director of Sound for a television series being filmed in North Vancouver, British Columbia. I am always on the lookout for interesting videos, old music, and fun.

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