Wednesday night's Kennedy Center Honors concluded with a tribute performance of "Stairway to Heaven" that brought the audience to its feet and tears to the eyes of Led Zeppelin.
The 1971 song, written by Robert Plant and Jimmy Page for the group's fourth album, was performed by Ann and Nancy Wilson of Heart, backed by two bowler-wearing choirs, and an instrumental accompaniment that included brass and strings. The late John Bonham's son, Jason Bonham, was on drums.
Clearly misty-eyed (he was seen wiping more than one tear from his eyes) Plant watched the stirring tribute with Led Zeppelin smiling and nodding with bandmates Page and John Paul Jones.
The performance ended a musical tribute to the British-born band that included Led Zeppelin classics performed by Lenny Kravitz, Kid Rock, and the Foo Fighters.
Also honored at the concert were actor Dustin Hoffman, talk-show host David Letterman, guitarist Buddy Guy and ballerina Natalia Makarova. The 35th annual gala, which recognizes recipients for their lifetime contributions to American culture, was taped on Dec. 2 in Washington and aired Wednesday night on CBS.
President Barack Obama and first lady Michelle Obama were in the balcony with the honorees. Caroline Kennedy, daughter of the late president for whom the honors are named, served as host.