Led Zeppelin
Recipient of the 2012 Kennedy Center Honors band Led Zeppelin attend the Kennedy Center Honors gala in Washington Reuters

Wednesday night’s Kennedy Center Honors 2012 played host to a rare tribute performance of Led Zeppelin's "Stairway to Heaven" that, almost 42 years after the song was released, brought tears to the men who are famous for performing the song.

Click here to watch Heart perform Led Zeppelin's "Stairway To Heaven."

The 1971 song, written by Robert Plant and Jimmy Page for the group's fourth album, “Led Zeppelin IV,” 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 original drummer, John Bonham, who died in 1980, was replaced by his son, Jason.

As the performers ran through the tune, which is often referred to as one of the greatest rock songs of all time, cameras caught a glimpse of Robert Plant wiping away tears while smiling and nodding with bandmates Page and John Paul Jones.

The “Stairway” performance capped off a night of musical tributes to the British-born rock band that included renditions by Lenny Kravitz, Kid Rock, and the Foo Fighters.

Zeppelin was among several other Kennedy Center honorees that included Dustin Hoffman, talk-show host David Letterman, guitarist Buddy Guy and ballerina Natalia Makarova.

The 35th annual ceremony, which pays tribute to those in the performing arts for their lifetime contributions to American culture, was pre-recorded on Dec.2 in Washington and aired Wednesday night on CBS.

President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama were in attendance at the Kennedy Center in the balcony with the honorees, while Caroline Kennedy, daughter of the late president for whom the honors are named, served as host.