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The 10 Wildest Led Zeppelin Legends, Fact-Checked

The mud shark, the hermit and the stairway to hell – we fact-check the rumors

led zeppelin

Led Zeppelin circa 1970.

Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

Has any band inspired as much myth and misinformation as Led Zeppelin? Before the Internet, there weren't heaps of information available about rock stars, and fans (including legions of stoned, Zeppelin-obsessed teenagers) filled the void with rumors and wild stories involving debauchery, the devil or one notorious fish. Amazingly, they weren't all bullshit. Here's a guide to what's true, what isn't and what's stuck somewhere in between.

This list appears in Rolling Stone's new collectors edition, Led Zeppelin: The Ultimate Guide to Their Music & Legend, on sale now.

By Andy Greene

Led Zeppelin

Atlantic Records

If You Play ‘Stairway to Heaven’ in Reverse, You Hear Satanic Messages

THE BACKSTORY: Televangelist Paul Crouch brought this allegation into the mainstream in 1982, claiming that, when played backward, the "bustle in your hedgerow" segment of Zep's signature tune says this: "Here's to my sweet Satan/The one whose little path would make me sad, whose power is Satan/He will give those with him 666/There was a little toolshed where he made us suffer, sad Satan."

THE TRUTH: That part of "Stairway" does sound similar to Crouch's interpretation when played backward, but it's just a bizarre coincidence. "Who on Earth would have ever thought of doing that?" Robert Plant said of the backward-Satanism charges. "You've got to have a lot of time on your hands to even consider that people would do that."

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