5 ) “Stairway to Heaven” (1971)
“Stairway to Heaven” is arguably the biggest hit song never released as a commercial single in the U.S. An eight-minute epic that closes the first side of Led Zeppelin’s fourth studio album, the song is composed of three distinct sections that increase in tempo and volume before closing with the line, “And she’s buying the stairway to heaven.” Jimmy Page and Robert Plant began putting the song together after they spent time at an isolated cottage in the mountains of Wales. Jimmy Page told rock journalist Cameron Crowe that “Stairway to Heaven,” “crystallized the essence of the band.”
“Stairway to Heaven” was recognized as the most requested song on rock radio in the U.S. in the 1970s. The band and their management adamantly refused Atlantic Records’ requests to release it as a single. Instead, many fans bought the album like they were buying a “Stairway to Heaven” single. In the U.S., the album peaked at #2 on the album chart, but it ultimately became one of the biggest selling albums of all time certified 23 times platinum in the U.S.