‘Stairway to Heaven’ Lawsuit Has Major Implications for Wayne’s World

A cutthroat legal battle over ‘Stairway to Heaven’ could have liberating implications for Wayne’s World.

Back in the early 1990s, a pivotal scene involving Mike Myers in ‘Wayne’s World’ was dramatically altered, thanks to a copyright claim by Led Zeppelin.  It’s the ‘No Stairway, Denied!’ scene: basically, Myers walks into a guitar shop, and starts playing the opening lick to ‘Stairway to Heaven’ before a clerk abruptly stops him.

After pointing to a ‘NO Stairway to Heaven’ sign, Myers utters the famous phrase, ‘No Stairway, Denied!’  And a reference for an entire generation was created.

The only problem is that the use of the actual song was actually denied by Led Zeppelin, specifically after the theatrical release, which led to this watered-down alteration:

Fast-forward to this week, when it was discovered that the famous ‘Stairway to Heaven’ guitar melody is actually in the public domain, which means that Zeppelin had absolutely no right to prevent it from being in Wayne’s World (or any other movie).  That’s because the melody already existed as early as the 1630 (yes, the year 1630), when it was written by Italian composer Giovanni Battista Granata.

Here, check it out around the 0:32 mark.

Which means, one of the most famous scenes can now be restored to its full glory. And the village rejoiced.

Huge thanks to Brandon Draper for pointing that out to DMN.  And another shout to Brian Dengler for pointing out the 1600s lick.  

6 Responses

  1. Roger Bixley

    I think y’all missed the real joke in that Wayne’s World bit. The joke is that every asshole who goes into a music store and grabs a demo guitar starts playing Stairway, and the employees got sick of hearing it butchered all day long.

  2. Market Creator

    No doubt the software application business is larger than the sound recording music industry. But when you miX the music inside of the software developer’s application then you’re looking at an entirely different animal–the beast if you will. It’s new media sometimes called off line content creation. It’s a derivative of the preeXisting being synchronized and re-evaluated into the consumer electronic digital convergence evolution and digital distribution ecosystems ; thereby eXpanding–creating the new dark pools of multi trillion dollar music licensing markets. :: LX

  3. Tim Wood

    Kind of a mishmash article, but so was Wayne’s World. Still love it. 😛

  4. John in DC

    I fully appreciate the recreation of the original in the last clip with the STH overdub. Very cool. It’s always been a cringeworthy moment for me ever time I’ve seen WW since seeing it in the theater. Didn’t LZ know it would just hurt them for denying it’s ever so slight inclusion? Maybe it all started when Mike Myers wanted to include it in the soundtrack….? Does anyone know if there are any “deleted scenes” or anything released that include the original version? Any plans for a new DVD release should totally include the original unaltered version.

  5. JW

    Not ironic at all that the classical piece is BLOCKED DUE TO COPYRIGHT CLAIMS (at least in Sweden)…