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- Posted on Mar 18th 2013 4:45PM by Aaron Brophy
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Heart had been enlisted to perform Zeppelin's epic "Stairway to Heaven," the anchor track from the band's world-beating 1971 album IV, at the Kennedy Center Honors ceremony last Dec. 2 when President Barack Obama honored Led Zep alongside Buddy Guy, David Letterman and Dustin Hoffman.
The band's rendition of the song, complete with orchestra and gospel choir visibly moved Plant, Jimmy Page and John Paul Jones, the three surviving members of Zeppelin.
"We kept going back and watching it again because we didn't see how much the Zep guys were so positively affected by it and so emotionally affected by it," Nancy Wilson told Spinner. "And it was totally a lifetime moment. We were so happy that we were able to honor them correctly because getting up there and doing a song of such epic proportion and doing it front of the President, the First Lady and Led Zeppelin, hey no pressure man."
The members of Led Zeppelin made a point to congratulate Heart for their performance.
"Afterwards they all came back and said 'Way to go. It sounded awesome,'" said Wilson. "And Robert said, 'Oh, I've just learned to really abhor that song. I hate it, I hate it, I hate that song because people just murder that song, but you guys pulled it off and it was great and it really excellent.'"
Of course, it helped this wasn't some bad pub band getting the Led out, but a band that's sold more than 30 million albums worldwide. The backup helped, too.
"It didn't hurt that there was a gospel ensemble and a horn section and a string section and a huge gospel choir," says Wilson. "It really came off at the end. It was so great."
Neither did it hurt that Heart are quite possibly the best Zeppelin tribute band that hasn't had to resort to a name like Zed Leppelin to play sports bars. Heart have been covering Zeppelin songs their entire history and they know the British band's catalogue well.
"We've done a lot of them," said Wilson. "In club days we used to do 'Black Dog,' 'The Crunge,' we've done 'Going to California,' 'The Battle of Evermore,' Misty Mountain Hop,'... oh god, we probably know like 20 of them. But it'll be fun to do a few more. It's just so fun to do those songs. They're just such beautifully crafted unusually cool songs.
"Whether or not Zeppelin want to play together any more or that it works to play anymore, they still invented that shit, and that's what you've always got to think about."
Heart are currently on a tour across Canada. The Wilson sisters will also be appearing at Canadian Music Week in Toronto on Friday, March 22 as part of a celebrity rock 'n' roll interview.