Led Zeppelin’s ‘Stairway to Heaven’ Recording Console for Sale
The original recording console used on Led Zeppelin’s “Stairway to Heaven” is going up for auction.
In a press release, Bonhams auction house specialist Claire Tole-Moir said it's "hard to overestimate how crucial a role this console has played in the British rock and pop scene. ... This console is a piece of Britain’s modern cultural history.” In other words, the purchase price won’t be cheap.
The console is actually a hybrid of two separate studio desks built by Helios Electronics. The first is the Basing Street Studio 2 console, which was installed at Island Records’ London studios in 1969. While housed there, the console was used on many famous recordings, including Bob Marley and the Wailers’ “I Shot the Sheriff,” Cat Stevens’ “Peace Train” and parts of the the Rolling Stones’ “Angie.”
Still, the most legendary recording took place in December 1970, when Led Zeppelin began work on their fourth album. While most of the record was produced in a mobile studio owned by the Rolling Stones, work began at Basing Street. It was there that the band completed the majority of “Stairway to Heaven”; Jimmy Page even returned several months later to record his epic guitar solo.
The second half of the HeliosCentric comes from a console used in the late Alvin Lee’s studio between 1973 and 1979. Lee, the guitarist and singer for the band Ten Years After, worked during that time with an array of collaborators, including George Harrison, Mick Fleetwood and Ronnie Wood.
Both desks eventually ended up in storage until they were rescued and given new life by another pair of music legends: Elvis Costello and Squeeze's Chris Difford. The pair teamed up in 1996 to open their own recording studio, and spent years painstakingly fusing the two historic consoles together into one desk. The result was a studio that attracted contemporary artists such as Sia, Cage the Elephant and Dido.