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“Oh my god, no pressure right?!”: Nancy Wilson on performing Stairway To Heaven to Led Zeppelin

Nancy Wilson
(Image credit: Harmony Gerber / Getty Images)

Nancy Wilson of Heart remembers what it was like to perform Led Zeppelin's Stairway To Heaven in front of the band in 2012.

On December 2, 2012 Led Zeppelin received the Kennedy Center Honors from President Barack Obama, and the special gala concert included a performance of Stairway To Heaven by Heart’s Ann and Nancy Wilson with Jason Bonham on drums. 

In a new interview with Classic Rock magazine (opens in new tab), Nancy recalls how nerve-wracking it was to play Led Zeppelin's legendary hit in front of the band themselves. 

“Oh my god, no pressure, right?!" she laughs. "Jimmy, Robert, John Paul, a few dignitaries, the President, the First Lady. Good Lordy! It was one of those moments where your professionalism has to be there. You have to have the most focus of your life. 

"When we walked out, Ann and I gave each other a really long look and took a deep breath. I had to start all by my little old self. I thought: ‘Okay, I’ve played this song all my life and I know how it goes.’ Of course, my knees were shaking. But once Ann started singing, I thought: ‘We’re in!’ [laughs]."

Nancy was thrilled that the performance got the seal of approval from the band. 

“At the dinner afterward, each member came up to us. Plant was like: ‘Oh my god, I’ve grown to hate that song so much because everybody murders it so badly. But you guys did great!’ Then Page told me: ‘You played that so well.’ And I just kind of swooned. What a night.”

You can read more on Nancy Wilson and Led Zeppelin in the new issue of Classic Rock, which is available now (opens in new tab)

Classic Rock
Classic Rock

Classic Rock is the online home of the world's best rock'n'roll magazine. We bring you breaking news, exclusive interviews and behind-the-scenes features, as well as unrivalled access to the biggest names in rock music; from Led Zeppelin to Deep Purple, Guns N’ Roses to the Rolling Stones, AC/DC to the Sex Pistols, and everything in between. Our expert writers bring you the very best on established and emerging bands plus everything you need to know about the mightiest new music releases.