When the movie Wayne's World was in theaters in 1992, I saw it at least twice. Since then, I've only caught it in bits and pieces on TV, so I had no idea that the film's most memorable gag had been changed -forever. When Wayne goes to a guitar store to try out the instruments, he starts to play "Stairway to Heaven," but is directed to a sign prohibiting the song. By then, I'd heard ten years of requests for the song as a deejay, so I was tickled silly by the scene. But if you were to watch the movie on home video, or even in re-release, this is the scene you see.
Who would have thought that Wayne was trying to play "Stairway to Heaven"? Those are just some random notes! But there's a reason behind the change.
Watching Wayne’s World on VHS as a kid, I remember being baffled by this joke. A million monkeys on a million electric guitars couldn’t come up with a riff that sounds less like "Stairway to Heaven." So was the gag that the employee just assumed Wayne was going to start playing "Stairway"? Or that Wayne was such a bad guitarist that that jangly riff was as close to "Stairway" as he could get?
It was only later that I discovered the movie originally included a much more recognizable version of the song—but only in the original cut.
Blame Led Zeppelin. The band and Warner Music Group wanted to charge the film production $100,000 for the few notes Mike Myers played in the original movie. Read the story of "No Stairway. Denied!" at GQ.