By all accounts Frank Zappa was not a great fan of rock groups, well maybe not much of a fan of anyone else’s music some would say. He was often disparaging of rock behemoths like Led Zeppelin and referred to lead singer Robert Plant as Robert Planet and Robert Plant-It. It was also Zappa he first raised the story of the mud-shark and the groupie incident, but that is another story altogether.
However maybe he did secretly like Led Zeppelin. In rehearsals for his 1988 tour he tried a few covers; “Shapes Of Things” by the Yardbirds and “Paperback Writer” by the Beatles. But most of these were never played live, particularly “Stairway To Heaven” a song which Frank claimed never to have heard from start to finish. But he recognised that a Zappa cover of the song, including sound effects, might actually blow the minds of his audience. I have listened to a few live recordings of Zappa doing “Stairway To Heaven” and it is both faithful and fanciful, a truly mental take on a true rock classic. Apparently the song took a slightly different road each night of that tour, even taking on some reggae vibes occasionally. Personally I love Zappa does Zep. What do you think? Here are a few takes from Zappa and the Led Zeppelin original.