James Patrick "Jimmy" Page, OBE (born 9 January 1944) is an English musician, singer-songwriter, and record producer who achieved international success as the guitarist of the rock band Led Zeppelin.
Page began his career as a studio session musician in London and, by the mid-1960s, had become the most sought-after session guitarist in the UK. He was a member of the Yardbirds from 1966 to 1968. In late 1968, he founded Led Zeppelin.
Page is widely considered to be one of the greatest and most influential guitarists of all time. Rolling Stone magazine has described Page as "the pontiff of power riffing" and ranked him number 3 in their list of the "100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time". In 2010, he was ranked number two in Gibson's list of "Top 50 Guitarists of All Time" and, in 2007, number four on Classic Rock's "100 Wildest Guitar Heroes". He was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame twice; once as a member of the Yardbirds (1992) and once as a member of Led Zeppelin (1995). Page was an inspiration for Ramones guitarist Johnny Ramone's downstroke guitar style. Ramone has described Page as "probably the greatest guitarist who ever lived". Page has been described by Uncut as "rock's greatest and most mysterious guitar hero". Los Angeles Times magazine voted Jimmy Page the 2nd Greatest Guitarist of all time.
Jimmy Page was born to James Patrick Page and Patricia Elizabeth Page (née Gaffikin) in the West London suburb of Heston, which today forms part of the London Borough of Hounslow. His father was an industrial personnel manager and his mother, who was of 3/4 Irish and 1/4 Chinese descent, was a doctor's secretary. In 1952, they moved to Feltham and then to Miles Road, Epsom in Surrey, which is where Page came across his first guitar. "I don't know whether [the guitar] was left behind by the people [in the house] before [us], or whether it was a friend of the family's—nobody seemed to know why it was there." First playing the instrument at age of twelve, he took a few lessons in nearby Kingston, but was largely self-taught:
Among Page's early influences were rockabilly guitarists Scotty Moore and James Burton, who both played on recordings made by Elvis Presley. His song "Baby Let's Play House" is cited by Page as being his inspiration to take up the guitar. Although he appeared on BBC1 in 1957 with another guitar, Page states that his first guitar was a second-hand 1959 Futurama Grazioso, later replaced by a Fender Telecaster.
Page's musical tastes included skiffle (a popular English music genre of the time) and acoustic folk playing, and the blues sounds of Elmore James, B.B. King, Otis Rush, Buddy Guy, Freddie King and Hubert Sumlin. "Basically, that was the start: a mixture between rock and blues."
At 13, Page appeared on Huw Wheldon's All Your Own talent quest programme in a skiffle quartet, one performance of which aired on BBC1 in 1957. The group played "Mama Don't Want to Skiffle Anymore" and another American-flavoured song, "In Them Ol' Cottonfields Back Home". When asked by Wheldon what he wanted to do after schooling, Page said, "I want to do biological research" to find a cure for "cancer, if it isn't discovered by then".
In an interview with Guitar Player magazine, Page stated that "there was a lot of busking in the early days, but as they say, I had to come to grips with it and it was a good schooling." Page took a guitar to school each day only to have it confiscated and returned to him after class. Although interviewed for a job as a laboratory assistant, he ultimately chose to leave Danetree Secondary School, West Ewell, to pursue music.
Initially, Page had difficulty finding other musicians with whom he could play on a regular basis. "It wasn't as though there was an abundance. I used to play in many groups ... anyone who could get a gig together, really." Following stints backing recitals by Beat poet Royston Ellis at the Mermaid Theatre between 1960–61, and singer Red E. Lewis, he was asked by singer Neil Christian to join his band, The Crusaders, after Christian had seen a fifteen-year-old Page playing in a local hall. Page toured with Christian for approximately two years and later played on several of his records, including the 1962 single, "The Road to Love".
During his stint with Christian, Page fell seriously ill with glandular fever (infectious mononucleosis) and couldn't continue touring. While recovering, he decided to put his musical career on hold and concentrate on his other love, painting, and enrolled at Sutton Art College in Surrey. As he explained in 1975:
Early 1960s: Session musician
While still a student, Page often performed on stage at The Marquee with bands such as Cyril Davies' All Stars, Alexis Korner's Blues Incorporated and fellow guitarists Jeff Beck and Eric Clapton. He was spotted one night by John Gibb of Brian Howard & The Silhouettes, who asked him to help record some singles for Columbia Graphophone Company, including "The Worrying Kind". Mike Leander of Decca Records first offered Page regular studio work. His first session for the label was the recording "Diamonds" by Jet Harris and Tony Meehan, which went to Number 1 on the singles chart in early 1963.
After brief stints with Carter-Lewis and the Southerners, Mike Hurst and the Method and Mickey Finn and the Blue Men, Page committed himself to full-time session work. As a session guitarist he was known as 'Lil' Jim Pea' to prevent confusion with the other noted British session guitarist Big Jim Sullivan. Page was mainly called into sessions as "insurance" in instances when a replacement or second guitarist was required by the recording artist. "It was usually myself and a drummer", he explained, "though they never mention the drummer these days, just me ... Anyone needing a guitarist either went to Big Jim [Sullivan] or myself." He stated that "In the initial stages they just said, play what you want, cos at that time I couldn't read music or anything."
Page was the favoured session guitarist of producer Shel Talmy. Talmy later stated in an interview with Finding Zoso, "I mean, he was original. At that time in London where there were very few really current musicians. A lot of good musicians, but kind of mired slightly in the past. There was like one or two good rhythm sections and that was it. I originally started using Big Jim Sullivan who was the only other one and then when I found Jimmy, who I thought was even better because he was more with it. He was doing what I thought should be done and certainly what was being done in the states so it was a no-brainer." As a result, he secured session work on songs for the Who and The Kinks. Page is credited with playing acoustic twelve string guitar on two tracks on The Kinks' debut album "I'm a Lover Not a Fighter" and "I've Been Driving On Bald Mountain" and possibly on the b-side "I Gotta Move". He played six-string rhythm guitar on the sessions for the Who's first single "I Can't Explain" (although Pete Townshend was reluctant to allow Page's contribution on the final recording, Page also played lead guitar on the B-side "Bald Headed Woman"). Page's studio gigs in 1964 included Marianne Faithfull's "As Tears Go By", The Nashville Teens' "Tobacco Road", The Rolling Stones' "Heart of Stone" (released on Metamorphosis), Van Morrison & Them's "Baby Please Don't Go" and "Here Comes the Night", Dave Berry's "The Crying Game" and "My Baby Left Me", Brenda Lee's "Is It True," and Petula Clark's "Downtown".
In 1965 Page was hired by Stones manager Andrew Loog Oldham to act as house producer and A&R man for the newly formed Immediate Records label, which allowed him to play on and/or produce tracks by John Mayall, Nico, Chris Farlowe, Twice as Much and Clapton. Page also formed a brief songwriting partnership with then romantic interest, Jackie DeShannon. He composed and recorded songs for the John Williams (not the classical guitarist John Williams) album The Maureeny Wishful Album with Big Jim Sullivan. Page worked as session musician on Donovan Leitch's Sunshine Superman (1966) and the Johnny Hallyday albums Jeune Homme (1968) and Je Suis Né Dans La Rue (1969), the Al Stewart album Love Chronicles (1969) and played guitar on five tracks of Joe Cocker's debut album, With a Little Help from My Friends. Over the years since 1970 Page played lead guitar on 10 Roy Harper tracks, comprising 81 minutes of music.
When questioned about which songs he played on, especially ones where there exists some controversy as to what his exact role was, Page often points out that it is hard to remember exactly what he did given the enormous number of sessions he was playing at the time. In a radio interview he explained that "I was doing three sessions a day, fifteen sessions a week. Sometimes I would be playing with a group, sometimes I could be doing film music, it could be a folk session ... I was able to fit all these different roles."
Although Page recorded with many notable musicians, many of these early tracks are only available as bootleg recordings, several of which were released by the Led Zeppelin fan club in the late 1970s. One of the rarest of these is the early jam session featuring Jimmy Page and Stones guitarist Keith Richards covering Robert Johnson's "Little Queen of Spades". Several early tracks with Page were compiled on the twin album release, Jimmy Page: Session Man. Page also recorded with Richards on guitar and vocals in Olympic Sound Studios on October 15, 1974. Along with Ric Grech on bass and Bruce Rowland on drums, a track called "Scarlet" was cut. Page reflected later in an interview with Rolling Stone's Cameron Crowe: "I did what could possibly be the next Stones B side. It was Rick Grech, Keith and me doing a number called "Scarlet." I can't remember the drummer. It sounded very similar in style and mood to those Blonde on Blonde tracks. It was great, really good. We stayed up all night and went down to Island Studios where Keith put some reggae guitars over one section. I just put some solos on it, but it was eight in the morning of the next day before I did that. He took the tapes to Switzerland and someone found out about them. Keith told people that it was a track from my album"
Page decided to leave studio work when the increasing influence of Stax Records on popular music led to the greater incorporation of brass and orchestral arrangements into recordings at the expense of guitars. However, he stated that his time as a session player served as extremely good schooling:
Late 1960s: The Yardbirds
In late 1964, Page was approached about the possibility of replacing Eric Clapton in the Yardbirds, but he declined out of loyalty to his friend. In February 1965 Clapton quit the Yardbirds and Page was formally offered his spot, but because he was unwilling to give up his lucrative career as a session musician and because he was still worried about his health under touring conditions, he suggested his friend, Jeff Beck. On 16 May 1966, drummer Keith Moon, bass player John Paul Jones, keyboardist Nicky Hopkins, Jeff Beck and Page recorded "Beck's Bolero" in London's IBC Studios. The experience gave Page an idea to form a new supergroup featuring Beck, along with The Who's John Entwistle on bass and Keith Moon on drums. However, the lack of a quality vocalist and contractual problems prevented the project from getting off the ground. During this time, Moon suggested the name "Lead Zeppelin" for the first time, after Entwistle commented that the proceedings would take to the air like a lead balloon.
Within weeks, Page attended a Yardbirds concert at Oxford. After the show he went backstage where Paul Samwell-Smith announced that he was leaving the group. Page offered to replace Samwell-Smith, and this was accepted by the group. He initially played electric bass with the Yardbirds before finally switching to twin lead guitar with Beck when Chris Dreja moved to bass. The musical potential of the line-up was scuttled, however, by interpersonal conflicts caused by constant touring and a lack of commercial success, although they released one single, "Happenings Ten Years Time Ago". (While Page and Jeff Beck played together in the Yardbirds, the trio of Page, Beck and Clapton never played in the original group at the same time. The three guitarists did appear on stage together at the ARMS charity concerts in 1983.)
After Beck's departure, the Yardbirds remained a quartet. They recorded one album with Page on lead guitar, Little Games. The album received indifferent reviews and was not a commercial success, peaking at only number 80 on the Billboard 200. Though their studio sound was fairly commercial at the time, the band's live performances were just the opposite, becoming heavier and more experimental. These concerts featured musical aspects that Page would later perfect with Led Zeppelin, most notably performances of "Dazed and Confused".
After the departure of Keith Relf and Jim McCarty in 1968, Page reconfigured the group with a new line-up to fulfil unfinished tour dates in Scandinavia. As he said:
To this end, Page recruited vocalist Robert Plant and drummer John Bonham, and he was also contacted by John Paul Jones, who asked to join. During the Scandinavian tour the new group appeared as the New Yardbirds, but soon recalled the old joke by Keith Moon and John Entwistle. Page stuck with that name to use for his new band. Peter Grant changed it to "Led Zeppelin", to avoid a mispronunciation of "Lead Zeppelin."
1968-1980: Led Zeppelin
Led Zeppelin are one of the best-selling music artists in the history of audio recording—various sources estimate the group's sales at more than 200 or even 300 million albums worldwide. With 111.5 million RIAA-certified units they are the second-best-selling band in the United States. Each of their nine studio albums reached the top 10 of the US Billboard album chart, and six reached the number-one spot.
Led Zeppelin were the progenitors of heavy metal and hard rock. The band's individualistic style drew from a wide variety of influences, including folk music. They performed on multiple record-breaking concert tours, which also earned them a reputation for excess. Although they remained commercially and critically successful, in the later 1970s, the band's output and touring schedule were limited by the personal difficulties of the members.
Page explained that he had a very specific idea in mind as to what he wanted Led Zeppelin to be, from the very beginning:
Post-Led Zeppelin career
Led Zeppelin broke up in 1980 following the death of drummer John Bonham at Page's home, The Old Mill House at Clewer in Berkshire. Page initially refused to touch a guitar, grieving for his friend. Thereafter, his work consisted of a series of short-term collaborations in the bands the Firm, the Honeydrippers, reunions and individual work, including film soundtracks. He also became active in philanthropic work.
He made a return to the stage at a Jeff Beck show in March 1981 at the Hammersmith Odeon. Also in 1981, Page joined with Yes bassist Chris Squire and drummer Alan White to form a supergroup called XYZ (for ex-Yes-Zeppelin). They rehearsed several times, but the project was shelved. Bootlegs of these sessions revealed that some of the material emerged on later projects, notably The Firm's "Fortune Hunter" and Yes songs "Mind Drive" and "Can You Imagine?". Page joined Yes on stage in 1984 at Westfalenhalle in Dortmund, Germany, playing "I'm Down".
In 1982 Page collaborated with director Michael Winner to record the Death Wish II soundtrack. This and several subsequent Page recordings, including Death Wish III soundtrack (1985), were recorded and produced at his recording studio, The Sol in Cookham, which he had purchased from Gus Dudgeon in the early 1980s.
In 1983 Page appeared with the A.R.M.S. (Action Research for Multiple sclerosis) charity series of concerts which honoured Small Faces bass player Ronnie Lane, who suffered from the disease. For the first shows at the Royal Albert Hall in London, Page's set consisted of songs from the Death Wish II soundtrack (with Steve Winwood on vocals) and an instrumental version of "Stairway to Heaven". A four-city tour of the United States followed, with Paul Rodgers of Bad Company replacing Winwood. During the tour, Page and Rodgers performed "Midnight Moonlight" which would later appeared on The Firm's first album. All of the shows featured an on stage jam of "Layla" that reunited Page with Yardbirds guitarists Beck and Clapton. According to the book Hammer of the Gods, it was reportedly around this time that Page told friends that he had just ended seven years of heroin use. On 13 December 1983, Page joined Plant on stage for one encore at the Hammersmith Odeon in London.
Page next linked up with Roy Harper for the 1984 album (Whatever Happened to Jugula?) and occasional concerts, performing a predominantly acoustic set at folk festivals under various guises such as the MacGregors and Themselves. Also in 1984 Page recorded with Plant as the Honeydrippers the album The Honeydrippers: Volume 1 and with John Paul Jones on the film soundtrack Scream for Help.
Page subsequently collaborated with Rodgers on two albums under the name The Firm. The first album, released in 1985, was the self-titled The Firm. Popular songs included "Radioactive" and "Satisfaction Guaranteed". The album peaked at number 17 on the Billboard pop albums chart and went gold in the US. It was followed by Mean Business in 1986. The band toured in support of both albums, but soon split up.
Various other projects followed, such as session work for Graham Nash, Stephen Stills and The Rolling Stones (on their 1986 single "One Hit (to the Body)"). In 1986, Page reunited temporarily with his ex-Yardbirds band members to play on several tracks of the Box of Frogs album Strange Land. Page released a solo album entitled Outrider in 1988 which featured contributions from Plant, with Page contributing in turn to Plant's solo album Now and Zen, which was released the same year.
Throughout these years Page also reunited with the other former members of Led Zeppelin to perform live on a few occasions, most notably in 1985 for the Live Aid concert with both Phil Collins and Tony Thompson filling drum duties. However, the band members considered this performance to be sub-standard, with Page having been let down by a poorly tuned Les Paul. Page, Plant and Jones, as well as John Bonham's son Jason, performed at the Atlantic Records 40th Anniversary show on 14 May 1988, closing the 12-hour show.
In 1990, a Knebworth concert to aid the Nordoff-Robbins Music Therapy Centre and the British School for Performing Arts and Technology saw Plant unexpectedly joined by Page to perform "Misty Mountain Hop", "Wearing and Tearing" and "Rock and Roll". Page also performed with the band's former members at various private family functions.
Page also embarked on a collaboration with David Coverdale in 1993 entitled Coverdale Page.
In 1994, Page reunited with Plant for the penultimate performance in MTV's "Unplugged" series. The 90-minute special, dubbed Unledded, premiered to the highest ratings in MTV's history. In October of the same year, the session was released as the CD No Quarter: Jimmy Page and Robert Plant Unledded and in 2004 as the DVD No Quarter Unledded. Following a highly successful mid-'90s tour to support No Quarter, Page and Plant recorded 1998's Walking into Clarksdale.
Page was heavily involved in remastering the Led Zeppelin catalogue. He participated in various charity concerts and charity work, particularly the Action for Brazil's Children Trust (ABC Trust), founded by his wife Jimena Gomez-Paratcha in 1998. In the same year, Page played guitar for rap singer/producer Puff Daddy's song "Come with Me", which heavily samples Led Zeppelin's "Kashmir" and was included in the soundtrack of Godzilla. The two later performed the song on Saturday Night Live.
In October 1999, Page teamed up with The Black Crowes for a two-night performance of material from the Led Zeppelin catalogue and old blues and rock standards. The concert was recorded and released as a double live album, Live at the Greek in 2000. In 2001 he made an appearance on stage with Limp Bizkit frontman Fred Durst and Wes Scantlin of Puddle of Mudd at the MTV Europe Video Music Awards in Frankfurt, where they performed a version of Led Zeppelin's "Thank You".
In 2005, Page was appointed Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) in recognition of his Brazilian charity work for Task Brazil and Action For Brazil's Children's Trust, made an honorary citizen of Rio de Janeiro later that year and was awarded a Grammy award.
In November 2006, Led Zeppelin was inducted into the UK Music Hall of Fame. The television broadcasting of the event consisted of an introduction to the band by various famous admirers (including Roger Taylor, Slash, Joe Perry, Steven Tyler, Jack White and Tony Iommi), a presentation of an award to Jimmy Page and then a short speech by the guitarist. After this, rock group Wolfmother played a tribute to Led Zeppelin, playing the song "Communication Breakdown".
In 2006, Page attended the induction of Led Zeppelin to the UK Music Hall of Fame. During an interview for the BBC for said event, he expressed plans to record new material in 2007, saying: "It's an album that I really need to get out of my system ...there's a good album in there and it's ready to come out" and "Also there will be some Zeppelin things on the horizon."
On 10 December 2007, the surviving members of Led Zeppelin, as well as John Bonham's son, Jason Bonham played a charity concert at the O2 Arena London.
For the 2008 Olympics, Jimmy Page, David Beckham and Leona Lewis represented Britain during the closing ceremonies on 24 August 2008. Beckham rode a double-decker bus into the stadium and Page and Lewis performed "Whole Lotta Love".
In 2008 Page co-produced a documentary film directed by Davis Guggenheim entitled It Might Get Loud. The film examines the history of the electric guitar, focusing on the careers and styles of Page, The Edge and Jack White. The film premiered on 5 September 2008 at the Toronto Film Festival. Page also participated in the three-part BBC documentary London Calling: The making of the Olympic handover ceremony on 4 March 2009. On 4 April 2009, Page inducted Jeff Beck into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Page has announced his 2010 solo tour while talking to the Sky News on 16 December 2009.
On 7 June 2008, Page and John Paul Jones appeared with the Foo Fighters to close out the band's concert at Wembley Stadium, performing "Rock and Roll" and "Ramble On."
In January 2010, Jimmy Page announced an autobiography published by Genesis Publications, in a hand-crafted, limited edition of 2,150 copies. Page was honoured with a first-ever Global Peace Award by the United Nations' Pathways to Peace organisation after confirming reports that he would be among the headliners at a planned Show of Peace Concert in Beijing, China, on 10 October 2010.
On 3 June 2011, Jimmy Page played with Donovan at the Royal Albert Hall in London. The concert was filmed. Page made an unannounced appearance with The Black Crowes at the Shepherd's Bush Empire in London on 13 July 2011. He also played alongside Roy Harper at Harper's 70th-birthday celebratory concert, in London's Royal Festival Hall on 13 July 2011.
In November 2011, Conservative MP Louise Mensch launched a campaign to have Page knighted for his contributions to the music industry.
In December 2012, Page, along with Plant and Jones, received the annual Kennedy Center Honors from President Barack Obama in a White House ceremony. The honour is the US's highest award for those who have influenced American culture through the arts.
Legacy and influence
Page's experiences both in the studio and with the Yardbirds were very influential in contributing to the success of Led Zeppelin in the 1970s. As a producer, composer, and guitarist he helped make Led Zeppelin a prototype for countless future rock bands and was one of the major driving forces behind the rock sound of that era, influencing a host of other guitarists. Allmusic states that "just about every rock guitarist from the late '60s/early '70s to the present day has been influenced by Page's work with Led Zeppelin". For example, Dictators bassist Andy Shernoff states that Jimmy Page's sped up, downstroke guitar riff in "Communication Breakdown", an influential song that contained elements of protopunk, was an inspiration for Ramones guitarist Johnny Ramone's downstroke guitar style. Ramone, who has described Page as "probably the greatest guitarist who ever lived", stated in the documentary "Ramones: The True Story" that he improved at his down-stroke picking style by playing the song over and over again for the bulk of his early career. Brian May of Queen, who was also influenced by Page, has said: "I don't think anyone has epitomised riff writing better than Jimmy Page – he's one of the great brains of rock music." Tom Scholz of Boston was heavily influenced by Jimmy Page and credits the dual guitar harmonies in Led Zeppelin's "How Many More Times" as the inspiration for Boston's distinctive sound. Page's guitar solo from the song "Heartbreaker" has been credited by Eddie Van Halen as being the inspiration for his two-hand tapping technique after he had seen Led Zeppelin perform in 1971. Similarly, Steve Vai has also commented about the song in a September 1998 Guitar World interview: "This one [Heartbreaker] had the biggest impact on me as a youth. It was defiant, bold and edgier than hell. It really is the definitive rock guitar solo."
Many other rock guitarists were also influenced by Jimmy Page, such as Ace Frehley, Joe Satriani, John Frusciante, James Hetfield, Kirk Hammett, Zakk Wylde, Yngwie Malmsteen, Tony Iommi, Joe Perry, Richie Sambora, Angus Young, Slash, Dave Mustaine, Mike McCready, Jerry Cantrell, Stone Gossard, Mick Mars, Paul Stanley, Alex Lifeson, and Dan Hawkins.
Page has been described by Uncut as "rock's greatest and most mysterious guitar hero". According to NBCNews.com, Jimmy Page "played some of the most fundamental and memorable guitar in rock history—from the heaviest crunch to the most delicate acoustic finger picking." Page's solo in the famous epic "Stairway to Heaven" has been voted by readers of Guitar World and Total Guitar as the greatest guitar solo of all time and he was named 'Guitarist of the Year' five times during the 1970s in Creem magazine's annual reader poll. Guitar World wrote: "Truly a guitar god, Jimmy Page is one of the most captivating soloists the rock world has ever known." In 1996, Mojo Magazine ranked him number 7 on their list of "100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time". In 2002 he was voted the second greatest guitarist of all time in a Total Guitar magazine reader poll. In 2007, Classic Rock Magazine ranked him number four on their list of the "100 Wildest Guitar Heroes". Gigwise.com, an online music magazine, ranked Page number two on their list of the "50 greatest guitarists ever" in 2008. In August 2009, Time magazine ranked him the 6th greatest electric-guitar player of all time. In 2010, Jimmy Page was ranked number two on Gibson's "Top 50 Guitarists of All Time". In 2004, David Fricke, senior editor at Rolling Stone magazine, ranked him the 9th-greatest guitarist of all time and described him as "the pontiff of power riffing". In 2011, Page ranked number 3 in an updated version of the same list.
David Fricke described Jimmy Page in 1988 as "probably the most digitally sampled artist in pop today after James Brown." Roger Daltrey of the Who has been a longtime fan of Page and expressed his desire to form a supergroup with Page in 2010 saying: "I'd love to do something, I'd love to do an album with Jimmy Page." Keith Richards of the Rolling Stones has described Jimmy Page as "one of the best guitar players I've ever known." Jimmy Page was the first inductee onto the British Walk of Fame in August 2004. Page was awarded "Living Legend Award" at Classic Rock Magazine Roll of Honour 2007. In June 2008, he was awarded an honorary doctorate by the University of Surrey for his services to the music industry. Page was inducted into Mojo Hall of Fame at the magazine's award ceremony on 11 June 2010.
In August 2010, Auburn University graduate student Justin Havird named a new species of fish "Lepidocephalichthys zeppelini" after Led Zeppelin, because the fish's pectoral fin reminded him of the double-neck guitar used by Jimmy Page.
Equipment and recording techniques
For the recording of most of Led Zeppelin material from Led Zeppelin's second album onwards, Page used a Gibson Les Paul guitar (sold to him by Joe Walsh) with Marshall amplification. A Harmony Sovereign H-1260 was used in-studio on Led Zeppelin III and Led Zeppelin IV and on-stage from 5 March 1971 to 28 June 1972. During the studio sessions for Led Zeppelin and later for recording the guitar solo in "Stairway to Heaven", he used a Fender Telecaster (a gift from Jeff Beck). He also used a Danelectro 3021, tuned to DADGAD, most notably on live performances of "Kashmir".
Page also plays his guitar with a cello bow, as on the live versions of the songs "Dazed and Confused" and "How Many More Times". This was a technique he developed during his session days. On MTV's Led Zeppelin Rockumentary, Page said that he obtained the idea of playing the guitar with a bow from David McCallum, Sr. who was also a session musician. Page used his Fender Telecaster and later his Gibson Les Paul for his bow solos.
- 1959 Gibson Les Paul Standard (No. 1). Sold to Page by Joe Walsh for $500. This guitar was also used by Gibson as the model for the company's second run of Page signature models in 2004. Produced by Gibson and aged by luthier Tom Murphy, this second generation of Page tribute models was limited to 25 guitars signed by Page himself; and only 150 guitars in total for the aged model issue.
- 1959 Gibson Les Paul Standard (No. 2) with a shaved-down neck to match the profile on his No. 1. He added four push/pull pots to coil split the humbuckers as well as phase and series switches which were added under the pick guard after the break-up of Led Zeppelin.
- 1971 Gibson EDS-1275. Used for playing "Stairway to Heaven", "The Song Remains the Same", "The Rain Song", "Celebration Day" during live concerts, "Tangerine" (1975 Earls Court shows) and "Sick Again" (1977 North American tour)
- 1959 Fender Telecaster. Given to Page by Jeff Beck and repainted with a psychedelic dragon design by Page. Played with the Yardbirds. Used to record the first Led Zeppelin album and used on the early tours during 1968–69. In 1971, it was used for recording the "Stairway to Heaven" solo.
- 1991 Gibson Les Paul Custom Shop. English luthier Roger Giffin built a guitar for Page based loosely on Page's #2. Giffin's work was later copied for Gibson's original run of Jimmy Page Signature model Les Pauls in the mid-1990s.
- 1961 Danelectro 3021. Tuned to DADGAD and used live for "White Summer", "Black Mountain Side", "Kashmir" and "Midnight Moonlight" with The Firm. Also tuned to open G live for "In My Time of Dying".
- 1958 Danelectro 3021. Tuned to open G and used on the Outrider tour. This one has a smaller pickguard, as opposed to the large "seal" pickguard on his 1961 Danelectro.
- 1967 Vox 12-string used during the recording for the Yardbirds album Little Games and for onstage appearances.
- 1960 Black Gibson Les Paul Custom (with Bigsby Tremolo) – stolen in 1970. Page ran an ad requesting the return of this highly modified instrument but the guitar was never recovered. In 2008 the Gibson Custom Shop produced a limited run of 25 re-creations of the guitar, each with a Bigsby Tremolo and a new custom 6-way toggle switch.
- Because the guitar was too heavy, one of Jimmy Page's Les Paul Custom Black Beauty guitars is now owned by Dan Hawkins of The Darkness.
- 1953 Botswana Brown Fender Telecaster featuring a Parsons and White B-string bender, with a maple neck and then salvaged the rosewood neck from the "Dragon Telecaster". Seen primarily during the 1980s since it was one of his main guitars on stage during The Firm and Outrider era. Also used on the Led Zeppelin's 1977 concert tour of the United States and at Knebworth in 1979, notably on "Ten Years Gone" and "Hot Dog".
- 1969 Gibson Les Paul DeLuxe (No. 3). Seen in The Song Remains the Same during the theremin/solo section of "Whole Lotta Love" and for "Kashmir" at the O2 reunion concert. In 1985, the guitar was fitted with a Parsons-White B-string bender and used extensively by Page from the mid-to-late 1980s onward, including the Outrider tour and the Page/Plant "Unledded" special on MTV.
- 1964 Lake Placid Blue Fender Stratocaster. Used during recording sessions for In Through the Out Door at Earls Court 1975 and in 1979 at Knebworth for In the Evening.
- 1966 Cream Fender Telecaster (used on Physical Graffiti and on "All My Love" during the Tour Over Europe 1980).
- 1965 Fender Electric XII (12-String) used to record "Thank You" and "Stairway to Heaven".
- 1972 Martin D28 used to record acoustic songs after Led Zeppelin IV, used live at Earls Court 1975
- In 1994 Andy Manson was commissioned to make another triple neck guitar for Page. It was used during the "Unledded" performances.
- Ernie Ball Super Slinky electric guitar strings .009s-.042s
Gibson released Jimmy Page Signature Les Paul, discontinued in 1999, then released another version in 2004, which was also discontinued. The 2004 version included 25 guitars signed by Page, 150 aged by Tom Murphy (an acknowledged ageing "master") and 840 "unlimited" production guitars. The Jimmy Page Signature EDS-1275 has been produced by Gibson. Recently, Gibson reproduced Page's 1960 Les Paul Black Beauty, the one stolen from him in 1970, with modern modifications. This guitar was sold in 2008 with a run of 25, again signed by Page, plus an additional 500 unsigned guitars.
In December 2009, Gibson released the 'Jimmy Page "Number Two" Les Paul'. This is a re-creation of Page's famous number 2 Les Paul used by him since about 1974. The model includes the same pick-up switching setup as devised by Page, shaved-down neck profile, Burstbucker pick-up at neck and "Pagebucker" at the bridge. A total of 325 were made in three finishes: 25 Aged by Gibson's Tom Murphy, signed and played by Page ($26,000), 100 aged ($16,000) and 200 with VOS finish ($12,000).
Amplifiers and effects
He usually recorded in studio with a Vox AC30, Fender and Orange amplification. The first Led Zeppelin album and the solo on "Stairway to Heaven" were played on a Fender Telecaster through a Supro amplifier.
Page used a limited number of effects, including a Maestro Echoplex, a Dunlop Cry Baby, an MXR Phase 90, a Vox Cry Baby Wah, a Boss CE-2 Chorus, a Yamaha CH-10Mk II Chorus, a Sola Sound Tone Bender Professional Mk II, an MXR Blue Box (distortion/octaver) and a DigiTech Whammy. Page also played a theremin.
Music production techniques
Jimmy Page is credited for the innovations in sound recording he brought to the studio during the years he was a member of Led Zeppelin, many of which he had initially developed as a session musician:
He developed a reputation for employing effects in new ways and trying out different methods of using microphones and amplification. During the late 1960s, most British music producers placed microphones directly in front of amplifiers and drums, resulting in the sometimes "tinny" sound of the recordings of the era. Page commented to Guitar World magazine that he felt the drum sounds of the day in particular "sounded like cardboard boxes." Instead, Page was a fan of 1950s recording techniques, Sun Studios being a particular favourite. In the same Guitar World interview, Page remarked: "Recording used to be a science" and "[engineers] used to have a maxim: distance equals depth." Taking this maxim to heart, Page developed the idea of placing an additional microphone some distance from the amplifier (as much as twenty feet) and then recording the balance between the two. By adopting this technique, Page became one of the first British producers to record a band's "ambient sound" – the distance of a note's time-lag from one end of the room to the other.
For the recording of several Led Zeppelin tracks, such as "Whole Lotta Love" and "You Shook Me", Page additionally utilised "reverse echo" – a technique which he claims to have invented himself while with the Yardbirds (he had originally developed the method when recording the 1967 single "Ten Little Indians"). This production technique involved hearing the echo before the main sound instead of after it, achieved by turning the tape over and employing the echo on a spare track, then turning the tape back over again to get the echo preceding the signal.
Page has stated that, as producer, he deliberately changed the audio engineers on Led Zeppelin albums, from Glyn Johns for the first album, to Eddie Kramer for Led Zeppelin II, to Andy Johns for Led Zeppelin III and later albums. He explained: "I consciously kept changing engineers because I didn't want people to think that they were responsible for our sound. I wanted people to know it was me."
John Paul Jones acknowledged that Page's production techniques were a key component of the success of Led Zeppelin:
In an interview that Page himself gave to Guitar World magazine in 1993, he remarked on his work as a producer:
French model Charlotte Martin was Page's partner from 1970 to about 1982 or 1983. Page called her "My Lady". Together they have a daughter, Scarlet Page (born in 1971), who is a photographer.
From 1986 to 1995 Page was married to Patricia Ecker, a model and waitress. They have a son, James Patrick Page III (born April 1988). Page later married Jimena Gómez-Paratcha, whom he met in Brazil on the No Quarter tour. He adopted her oldest daughter Jana (born 1994) and they have two children together: Zofia Jade (born 1997) and Ashen Josan (born 1999).
In 1972 Page bought, from Richard Harris, the home that William Burges (1827–1881) designed for himself in London, The Tower House. "I had an interest going back to my teens in the pre-Raphaelite movement and the architecture of Burges," he said. "What a wonderful world to discover." The reputation of Burges rests on his extravagant designs and his contribution to the Gothic revival in architecture in the nineteenth century.
From 1980 to 2004 Page owned The Mill House, Mill Lane, Windsor, which was formerly the home of actor Michael Caine. Fellow Led Zeppelin band member John Bonham died at the house in 1980.
From the early 1970s to the early 1990s, Page owned the Boleskine House, the former residence of occultist Aleister Crowley. Sections of Page's fantasy sequence in the film The Song Remains the Same were filmed at night on the mountain side directly behind Boleskine House.
According to Sunday Times Rich List, Page's assets are worth £75 million as of 2012. He resides in Sonning, Berkshire in Deanery Garden, a house designed by Edwin Lutyens for the owner of Country Life magazine, Edward Hudson. Page also previously owned Plumpton Place in Sussex, also formerly owned by Edward Hudson and with certain parts of the house also designed by Edwin Lutyens. This house features in the Zeppelin film The Song Remains The Same where Jimmy is seen sitting on the lawn playing a hurdy gurdy.
Recreational drug use
Page has acknowledged heavy recreational drug use throughout the 1970s. In an interview with Guitar World magazine in 2003, he stated: "I can't speak for the [other members of the band], but for me drugs were an integral part of the whole thing, right from the beginning, right to the end." After the band's 1973 concert tour of the United States, Page told Nick Kent: "Oh, everyone went over the top a few times. I know I did and, to be honest with you, I don't really remember much of what happened."
In 1975, Page began to use heroin, a fact attributed to Richard Cole, who stated that Page (in addition to himself) was taking the drug during the recording sessions of the album Presence in that year and that Page admitted to him shortly afterwards that he was addicted to the drug.
By Led Zeppelin's 1977 tour of the United States, Page's heroin addiction was beginning to hamper his guitar playing performances. By this time the guitarist had lost a noticeable amount of weight. His onstage appearance was not the only obvious change; his addiction caused Page to become so inward and isolated it altered the dynamics between him and Plant considerably. During the recording sessions for In Through the Out Door in 1978, Page's diminished influence on the album (relative to bassist John Paul Jones) is partly attributed to his heroin addiction, which resulted in his absence from the studio for long periods of time.
Page reportedly kicked his heroin habit in the early 1980s. In a 1988 interview with Musician magazine, Page took offence when the interviewer noted that heroin had been associated with his name and insisted: "Do I look as if I'm a smack addict? Well, I'm not. Thank you very much."
In an interview he gave to Q magazine in 2003, Page responded to a question as to whether he regrets getting so involved in heroin and cocaine:
Interest in the occult
The appearance of four symbols on the jacket of Led Zeppelin's fourth album has been linked to Page's interest in the occult. The four symbols represented each member of the band. Page's own so-called "Zoso" symbol originated in Ars Magica Arteficii (1557) by Gerolamo Cardano, an old alchemical grimoire, where it has been identified as a sigil consisting of zodiac signs. The sigil is reproduced in Dictionary of Occult, Hermetic and Alchemical Sigils by Fred Gettings.
During tours and performances after the release of the fourth album, Page often had the "Zoso" symbol embroidered on his clothes, along with zodiac symbols. These were visible most notably on his "Dragon Suit", which included the signs for Capricorn, Scorpio and Cancer which are Page's Sun, Ascendant and Moon signs, respectively.
The artwork inside the album cover of Led Zeppelin IV is from a painting attributed to the artist Barrington Colby MOM, influenced by the traditional Rider/Waite Tarot card design for the card called "The Hermit". Very little is known about Colby and rumours have persisted down the years that Page himself is responsible for the painting. Page transforms into this character during his fantasy sequence in Led Zeppelin's concert film The Song Remains the Same.
In the early 1970s Page owned an occult bookshop and publishing house, The Equinox Booksellers and Publishers, in Kensington High Street, London, eventually closing it as the increasing success of Led Zeppelin occupied his time. The company published a facsimile of English occultist's Aleister Crowley's 1904 edition of The Goetia. Page has maintained a strong interest in Crowley for many years. In 1978, he explained:
Page was commissioned to write the soundtrack music for the film Lucifer Rising by another occultist and Crowley admirer, underground movie director Kenneth Anger. Page ultimately produced 23 minutes of music, which Anger felt was insufficient because the film ran for 28 minutes and Anger wanted the film to have a full soundtrack. Anger claimed Page took three years to deliver the music and the final product was only 23 minutes of droning. The director also slammed the guitarist in the press by calling him a "dabbler" in the occult and an addict and being too strung out on drugs to complete the project. Page countered that he had fulfilled all his obligations, even going so far as to lend Anger his own film editing equipment to help him finish the project. Page released the Lucifer Rising music on vinyl in 2012 via his website on "Lucifer Rising and other sound tracks". Side one contained "Lucifer Rising - Main Track", whilst side two contained the tracks "Incubus", "Damask", "Unharmonics", "Damask - Ambient", and "Lucifer Rising - Percussive Return". In the December 2012 Rolling Stone cover story "Jimmy Page Looks Back", Page said: "...there was a request, suggesting that Lucifer Rising should come out again with my music on. I ignored it."
Although Page collected works by Crowley, he has never described himself as a Thelemite nor was he ever initiated into the O.T.O. The Equinox Bookstore and Boleskine House were both sold off during the 1980s, as Page settled into family life and participated in charity work.
- Individual Studio albums
- Whatever Happened to Jugula? (1985)
- The Firm (1985)
- Mean Business (1986)
- Outrider (1988)
- Coverdale and Page (1993)
- Walking into Clarksdale (1998)
- Lucifer Rising and other sound tracks (2012)
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Image from Discogs