In late 2018, Atlanta prog-metal titans Mastodon were struck by tragedy when their longtime manager Nick John, who the group has referred to as “the band’s Dad,” passed away following a battle with pancreatic cancer. To honor John, the quartet recorded a live version of Led Zeppelin’s “Stairway to Heaven,” featuring drummer Brann Dailor on lead vocals, and released it for Record Store Day 2019 as a limited-edition 10-inch, with all proceeds benefiting the Hirshberg Foundation for Pancreatic Cancer Research. Only 1,500 copies were pressed.
“In early September 2018 we lost one of our closest friends and our biggest fan, our manager Nick John,” Mastodon said in a statement announcing the 10-inch, which they dubbed “Stairway to Nick John.” “He was essentially the band’s Dad. From our highest highs to our lowest lows he was always there. Every single move we made went through him first as our trust in him was marrow deep. His favorite band besides us and Gojira, was Led Zeppelin. We were asked to perform ‘Stairway to Heaven’ at his funeral.
“Afterwards, finding out that someone had recorded it, we figured we should record a studio version and release it on RSD as a tribute to Nick with all the proceeds to be donated to pancreatic cancer research. We would not be the band we are today without the help of Nick John. We miss him dearly and think of him always. We love you buddy!” As it turns out, the “someone” who recorded it at the funeral was Gojira’s Joe Duplantier, who did his part in convincing Mastodon to re-record and release the cover.
You can hear the rendition below, and if you didn’t up a copy of the 10-inch on Record Store Day, good luck tracking one down.