Page evidence deflates Led Zeppelin myth

Led Zeppelin at their 2007 reunion concert. Photo / Supplied
Led Zeppelin at their 2007 reunion concert. Photo / Supplied

Ask any die-hard Led Zeppelin fan about Stairway to Heaven, and eventually Bron-Yr-Aur will come up.

It's the name of the remote cottage in Wales where the band, sitting fireside, wrote the song. At least, it's where guitarist Jimmy Page has always said he wrote the song -- a perfect image for a band obsessed with Celtic iconography.

What you likely won't hear is Headley Grange, a now-closed recording studio in Headley, England, where bands like Fleetwood Mac, Genesis and Bad Company rehearsed and recorded.

Until now. During Jimmy Page's testimony in Zeppelin's ongoing copyright battle with the band Spirit over Stairway to Heaven, Page admitted he didn't write the song at Bron-Yr-Aur, pronounced "bronariar." Instead, he wrote it elsewhere and first played it for his bandmates at the Headley Garage.

That might sound like a minor detail, but to Zeppelin fans, it's akin to the levee breaking. Bron-Yr-Aur has been a destination for the faithful, a place of pilgrimage.

The song's origin story just went from storied to pedestrian.

Part of Zeppelin's appeal has always been the lore surrounding its epic guitar rock. Celtic religious imagery is used in its famed "Zoso" symbol, and references to J.R.R. Tolkien's Lord of the Rings trilogy pepper the band's work. The first lines of Ramble On are a rough translation of a poem that's written in the Elvish language Quenya, created by Tolkien. Misty Mountain Hop is even more straightforward - it was named for a place where Bilbo Baggins hangs out in The Hobbit.

Bron-Yr-Aur fits right into this mythology. The 250-year-old cottage in the Welsh mountainside overlooks the stunning Dyfi Valley.

The band wrote Led Zeppelin III at the cottage - the album even includes a song titled Bron-Yr-Aur Stomp - but, more importantly to many fans, Plant said he and Page had written Stairway to Heaven at the cabin's fireside.

It's a blow for fans from Japan, Italy, China and the United States who have all hiked to remote Bron-Yr-Aur. All for naught.

- Washington Post

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