How “Stairway To Heaven” Made Led Zeppelin A “Satanist”

via Led Zeppelin / Youtube

Throughout the history of rock music, accusations of Satanic influence and hidden messages have plagued numerous artists, including iconic bands like Led Zeppelin. The allegations of occultism and Satanic themes have often stemmed from misinterpretations and moral panics surrounding popular culture. One such case is Led Zeppelin’s legendary song “Stairway to Heaven,” which faced unfounded claims of backmasked Satanic messages.

The Satanic Panic: Fear and Moral Panic

The 1980s saw the emergence of the “Satanic Panic,” a period marked by widespread fear and moral panic regarding alleged Satanic rituals, cults, and abuse. This atmosphere of anxiety led to the belief that Satanic influences were infiltrating various aspects of society, including popular culture and music. Rock music became a particular target due to its rebellious nature and perceived connection to occult themes.

Backmasking: From Artistic Technique to Accusation

One element that fueled the Satanic Panic was the concept of “backmasking,” the act of playing a song backward to search for hidden messages. While backmasking had been used as a writing technique to add depth to musical compositions, it became the subject of scrutiny during the Satanic Panic. The notion that bands intentionally embedded subliminal Satanic messages through backmasking became a source of concern and accusations.

Plant’s Dismissal and Enduring Legacy

Robert Plant, the lead vocalist of Led Zeppelin, refuted the accusations, deeming them absurd and baseless. In an interview with Rolling Stone, he expressed his disbelief, questioning who would even consider such interpretations. Led Zeppelin, along with other bands targeted by these claims, have stood the test of time, solidifying their enduring influence and reminding us that talent transcends sensational rumors.

Plant said during the interview:

“You’ve got to have a lot of time on your hands to even consider that people would do that.”

The Satanic Panic of the 1980s sparked widespread concern over alleged Satanic influences in popular culture, particularly in music. Led Zeppelin’s “Stairway to Heaven” became a subject of unfounded accusations, attributing dark backmasked messages to the song. However, the band’s lead vocalist, Robert Plant, dismissed these claims as ludicrous.