Amateur guitarist Clive Martin was celebrating with his grandchildren today after finally mastering how to play Stairway to Heaven after 40 years of trying.
He says his sudden success is down to this great new thingy called YouTube which is full of videos showing how the Led Zeppelin masterpiece is played note by note.Clive started learning the song’s classic acoustic intro when he was at school in Lichfield and wanted to appear like a cool rock star to impress the girls.
“I was a bit of a hippy folky in those days and Led Zep were a hard rock band…not really my style but then they did this nice melodic acoustic thing and I thought, I’ve got to learn that. It will make me seem spiritual and the girls will love it.”
Sadly for Clive, it proved harder than expected and the pain of twisting his fingers in knots was relieved only by the pain of banging his head on the wall in frustration at not being able to get it quite right. It meant he never got the chance to impress the girls as he’d hoped.
After leaving school, he got a job as a trainee accountant and became the kind of ‘breadhead’ he had previously scorned but told himself, “well, we all have to grow up and enter the real world eventually”.
Then came marriage and kids. With a family to support, a mortgage to pay and a career to build, Clive found he had little time for hippy luxuries like guitar playing.
However, despite turning into corporate man, Clive never quite lost his taste for Stairway to Heaven and the youthful dreams it encapsulated.
Then, after more than 40 years in the rat race, he retired and found he had time on his hands. Not only that, but he discovered that YouTube was awash with free videos showing how to play thousands of classic tunes.
“It was a revelation to me,” said Clive. “I used to have to listen to an old Dansette record player to learn but here it was in full video showing all the notes and frets and fingering and everything.”
Sadly, the song has not delivered in terms of impressing the ladies. After listening to him practise for hours on end, Clive’s wife can’t stand the tune anymore and has banned him from playing it while she is in the house.
He’s now turning his talents to another schoolboy classic, Smoke on the Water, and is plucking up the courage to tell his wife that he wants an electric guitar.