The song, retitled “Stairway to Nick John,” was released as a single on Record Store Day this past weekend, with all proceeds going to the Hirshberg Foundation for Pancreatic Cancer Research.
“In early September 2018, we lost one of our closest friends and our biggest fan, our manager Nick John,” the band explained in a statement. “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.”
They noted that 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!”
You can listen to Mastodon’s cover of “Stairway to Heaven” below.
The group produced 1,500 copies of the 10″ single, with the live version of the song on the B-side. You can see if any copies remain at your local independent record store.
They’ve also been working on new music, adding that they had hoped to release a song featuring Scott Kelly of Neurosis to coincide with their recent European tour, but it didn’t get completed in time. Instead, they’re aiming for a new album next year.