Jimmy Page

Missing image
Jimmy Page in concert

James Patrick Page OBE , known as Jimmy Page, (born January 9, 1944) is widely considered one of the greatest and most influential guitarists in rock and roll. He was a founding member of the band Led Zeppelin and, prior to that, a member of The Yardbirds from late 1966 through 1968.


Formative Years

Page was born in the north London suburb of Heston in Middlesex. His father was an industrial personnel manager and his mother a doctor's secretary.

Jimmy Page first picked up the guitar when he was 12 and, although he took a few lessons, was largely self taught. His early influences were rockabilly guitarists Scotty Moore and James Burton, who both played on recordings made by Elvis Presley, and Johnny Day, who played guitar for The Everly Brothers. The Presley song "Baby Let's Play House" was an early favourite on his first electric guitar, a second hand 1949 Gibson. Page's musical tastes however also encompassed acoustic folk playing, particularly that of Bert Jansch and John Renbourn, and the blues sounds of Elmore James and B.B. King. At the age of 14, Page appeared on ITV's Search For Stars talent quest programme.

After graduating from school with an initial aim to work as a lab assistant, Page’s love of the guitar saw him switch to playing for Beat poet Royston Ellis before joining his first band, Red E Lewis and The Red Caps. Page was then asked by Neil Christian to join his band, The Crusaders, which gave him his first taste of touring life and an appearance on a November 1962 single, "The Road to Love".

During the tour, Page fell seriously ill with glandular fever and couldn't continue the tour. While resting, Page decided to put his musical career on the shelf and concentrate on his other love, painting. He enrolled in Sutton Art College in Surrey.

Session player years

While still a student, Page would often jam on stage at the Marquee with bands such as the Cyril Davis All Stars, Alexis Korner's Blues Incorporated and with guitarists Jeff Beck and Eric Clapton. He was spotted one night by John Gibb of The Silhouettes, who asked him to help record a number of singles for EMI, "The Worrying Kind" and "Bald Headed Woman". It wasn't until an offer from Mike Leander from Decca Records that Page was to receive regular studio work. His first session for the label was the recording "Diamonds" by Jet Harris & Tony Meehan which went to Number 1 on the singles chart in 1963.

After brief stints with the band Micky Finn, and Carter Lewis (Meat Beatin' Lewie) and The Southerners, Page committed himself to full-time session work. His studio output in 1963 included Brian Poole & The Tremeloes' "Twist and Shout", Heinz's "Just Like Eddie" and in 1964, The Rolling Stones "Heart of Stone", Marianne Faithfull's "As Tears Go By", The Nashville Teens' "Tobacco Road", Dave Berry's "The Crying Game", and Lulu's hit "Shout". Under the auspices of producer Shel Talmy, Page recorded The Kinks "You Really Got Me" (1964) (although there is a dispute on whether Page or Dave Davies played lead), the guitar part on Them's "Baby Please Don’t Go" (1965), and recorded a lead guitar part on The Who's first single "I Can't Explain", although there is disagreement over whether or not it was used. In 1965 Page was hired by Rolling Stones manager Andrew Loog Oldham to act as house producer for the newly formed Immediate Records label, which also allowed him to play on tracks by John Mayall, Nico, and Eric Clapton. Page also formed a brief songwriting partnership with then girlfriend, Jackie DeShannon. It is estimated that Jimmy Page appeared on 60% of rock music recorded in England between 1963 and 1966.

After being invited to replace Eric Clapton in The Yardbirds on March 20, 1965, Page turned down the offer and instead suggested his friend Jeff Beck. On May 16, 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 band with John Entwistle on bass (instead of Jones), however the lack of a quality vocalist and contractual problems sent the project down like a "lead zeppelin". Within weeks Page was again offered to join The Yardbirds and at first played bass guitar with the group after the departure of Paul Samwell-Smith, before finally switching to twin lead guitar with Beck when Chris Dreja moved to bass. The musical potential of the line-up however was scuttled by interpersonal conflicts caused by constant touring and a lack of commercial success. Despite the departure of Keith Relf and Jim McCarty in 1968, Page wished to continue the group with a new line-up. After a handful of shows on their first tour, The New Yardbirds renamed themselves Led Zeppelin.

Led Zeppelin

Page's past experiences both in the studio and with The Yardbirds was critical in the success of Led Zeppelin in the 1970s. As a producer, composer and guitarist for the band, he was one of the major driving forces behind the rock sound of that era, with his trademark Gibson Les Paul guitar and Marshall amplification. In the studio, Page often used a Supro amplifier and a Telecaster guitar. His use of distorted fuzz guitar ("Whole Lotta Love"), slide guitar ("You Shook Me", "In My Time of Dying"), pedal steel guitar ("Your Time is Gonna Come", "Tangerine"), eastern scales ("Black Mountain Side", "Kashmir"), acoustic guitar ("Gallows Pole", "Bron-Yr-Aur") and recording techniques made Led Zeppelin a prototype for all future rock bands. His landmark guitar solo from the song "Heartbreaker" (Led Zeppelin II) has been credited by Eddie Van Halen as the inspiration for Van Halen's trademark 2-hand tapping technique. Page also put to use his bowed playing technique he developed during his session days, and experimented with feedback devices and a theremin. His guitar solo in the famous rock song "Stairway to Heaven" was voted by readers of Guitar World Magazine as the greatest guitar solo of all time.

In 1976 Page started using heroin. This habit would severely affect his later performances with Led Zeppelin, which were often hit-and-miss. Page and drummer John Bonham would frequently be absent from the recording studio in the band's later years, showing up after songs were already written. As a result their final studio album (In Through the Out Door) was more heavily influenced by bassist John Paul Jones and singer Robert Plant.

Post-Led Zeppelin Career

After Led Zeppelin disbanded in 1980, Page attempted to form a supergroup with ex-Yes members to be called XYZ however it came to naught. Page made a successful return to stage with the ARMS Charity series of concerts in 1983 which honoured Small Faces bass player Ronnie Lane. Page then linked up with Roy Harper for an album and tour. In 1984, Page recorded with Plant in the guise of The Honeydrippers. Various other projects soon followed such as The Firm, with Paul Rodgers, session work for Graham Nash, Box of Frogs, and Robert Plant, a solo album Outrider, a collaboration with David Coverdale in Coverdale Page, and a live album with The Black Crowes. In addition, he also collaborated with director Michael Winner to record the Death Wish II soundtrack, released in 1982.

Led Zeppelin reformed in 1985 for the Live Aid concert with Phil Collins on drums replacing John Bonham.

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. The soundtrack to the special was released in 1995 as the CD No Quarter, and in 2004 as the DVD No Quarter Unledded. Following a highly successful tour in 1995 to support No Quarter, Page and Plant recorded Walking Into Clarksdale, their first full CD together since 1979. Page has been one member of Led Zeppelin who has always left open the option for a group reunion.

Since 1990, Jimmy Page has been instrumental in remastering the entire Led Zeppelin back catalogue and is currently involved 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 2005 Page was awarded the OBE in recognition of his Brazilian charity work. His daughter, Scarlet Page, is a respected photographer.

In 1998, rap singer/producer Sean "Puffy" Combs (now known as "P Diddy") adapted Led Zeppelin's "Kashmir" for a new song that he was contributing to the movie Godzilla. The song was recorded simultaneously in two different studios via satellite link-up, with Combs singing in New York City while Page played guitar in London. The end result was "Come With Me". The song was fairly popular (much more so than the movie, which bombed) and received some decent radio and TV time. Combs and Page later performed the song live with a rock band and full symphony orchestra on Saturday Night Live.

External links

Led Zeppelin
John Bonham - John Paul Jones - Jimmy Page - Robert Plant
Original albums: Led Zeppelin - Led Zeppelin II - Led Zeppelin III - Untitled - Houses of the Holy - Physical Graffiti - Presence - The Song Remains the Same - In Through the Out Door - Coda
Other albums: Boxed Set - Profiled - Remasters - Boxed Set 2 - The Complete Studio Recordings - BBC Sessions - Early Days: The Best of Led Zeppelin Volume One - Latter Days: The Best of Led Zeppelin Volume Two - How the West Was Won
Films: The Song Remains the Same - Led Zeppelin DVD
Songs: "The Battle of Evermore" - "Dazed and Confused" - "Stairway to Heaven" - "When the Levee Breaks"
Other: Peter Grant - Swan Song Records

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