Why is Stairway to Heaven Called the Forbidden Riff?

  • on June 22, 2022
Why is Stairway to Heaven Called the Forbidden Riff?

Why is Stairway to Heaven Banned called the forbidden riff? The question may seem odd at first. I’ve been asked this question quite often.

When you’ve been to a guitar store, you’ve probably heard someone playing Stairway to Heaven on a demo guitar.  It’s the first riff you pick up whenever you pick up a guitar, regardless of whether you’re a beginner or an experienced player.

You’ve probably heard someone mention that Stairway to Heaven is not permitted in guitar stores if you have ever participated in an online guitar forum or Facebook group.  It’s odd, considering how iconic and recognizable the song is.

I’m going to explain precisely why Stairway to Heaven’s intro is called the forbidden riff in this post.

Forbidden Riff:

The term forbidden riff is not uncommon in the community. The term refers to the ” banned ” songs from guitar stores. Here are just some easy-to-play riffs and tunes for beginners. The result is that easy-to-play riffs get overplayed in guitar stores, which is a source of frustration for managers and salespeople. After all, you can only take so much maturity in murdering fictional cats before you want to slug them. Preferably theirs.

Why Is Stairway to Heaven called the Forbidden Riff?

Initially seen in the 1992 movie Wayne’s World, the stairway to heaven, also known as the “forbidden riff,” has been an ongoing joke for years. Initially, it was meant to be a joke about the infamous riff as it is one of the most played songs in guitar stores when people are trying out new instruments.

Why is Stairway to Heaven Banned in Guitar Stores?

It’s not illegal to sell Stairway to Heaven in guitar stores. I hear this song played more often than not when I shop around in my local music stores, and every time I do, I remember to write an article about it!

Even though you won’t be kicked out of your local guitar center for playing the forbidden riff, you may not want to.

The opening bars of “Stairway” are common ways guitar teachers introduce students to guitar riffs. It is an easy arrangement and cools for new players to show off to their friends and family. Everyone knows this song!


Q: What is the Forbidden riff, and why is it called that?

Forbidden Riffs are songs that are strictly forbidden to play in guitar stores. An inside joke began in 1973 in Denmark Street, London. Songs on this list have often been referred to as – overused riffs. Many beginners play overplayed riffs to show off.

Q: What are the forbidden riffs?

  • Smoke On The Water – Deep Purple
  • Iron Man – Black Sabbath.
  • Sweet Home Alabama – Lynyrd Skynyrd.
  • Smells Like Teen Spirit – Nirvana.
  • Enter Sandman – Metallica.

Wonderwall – Oasis.

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