That Time Led Zeppelin’s ‘Stairway to Heaven’ Blasted From the White House Roof
Steve Ford was 18 years old in 1974, when his father, President Gerald Ford, assumed the highest office in the land. After the Fords moved into the White House, the younger Ford did what many teenagers in his situation would do: He invited a friend over to check out his family’s new place.
The pair carted Ford’s stereo equipment up to the White House roof, chilled out and played some Led Zeppelin. Really loud. In an interview with MLive, Ford recalls playing “Stairway to Heaven” so loud it could be heard across the street.
"There was nobody up there,” Ford said. “Just us and the flag."
Ford has shared his “Stairway” incident in speeches and conferences for years. The story was revisited in an episode of the popular television series House of Cards, when Kevin Spacey’s character, President Frank Underwood, shows a White House visitor the staircase that leads to the building’s roof.
"Gerald Ford's son used to sneak up these stairs to play Led Zeppelin for his friends," Underwood tells his guest. (Ford claims he only did it once.)
These days, White House occupants are prohibited from such frivolity. After the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, 2001, there are snipers in position on the roof, and access for the purposes of blaring Led Zeppelin IV (or any music for that matter) has been curtailed. "I feel sorry for the Obama and the Bush girls,” Ford said. “They never got a chance to drag their stereos up to the roof."