Jimmy Page was the lead guitar player of Led Zeppelin for twelve years (1968-1980). Page is one of the most influential guitar players and songwriters in music history.
James Patrick page was born on January 9, 1944 in Heston, Middlesex, England to James and Patricia Page. His father was an industrial personnel manager and his mother a doctor's secretary. When he was twelve years old, Page picked up his first guitar, a 1959 Futurama Grazioso. He said, "I don't know whether the guitar was left behind by the people before, or whether it was friend of the family's - nobody seemed o know why it was there." Although he took a few lessons in Kingston, Page mainly taught himself how to play. He would take his guitars to school, only to have them confiscated and returned to him that afternoon.
Page was influenced by rockabilly guitarists Scooty Moore and James Burton, who both played on Elvis Presley recordings. Elvis Presley's song "Baby Let's Play House" was Page's inspiration to take up playing the guitar. He enjoyed played skiffle, the blues, and acoustic folk playing, such as B.B. King and Otis Rush.
When Page was thirteen, he appeared on Huw Wheldon's All Your Own talent quest program in 1957. He and a skiffle quartet played "Mama Don't Want To Skiffle Anymore" and "In Them Ol' Cottonfields Back Home." When Wheldon asked him what he wanted to do after schooling, Page answered, "I want to do biological research" to find a cure for "cancer, if it isn't discovered by then." But Page would not find that cure. Instead, he would go on to be one of the most greatest guitar players of all time, and be in the biggest rock band in the world.
Page left school to pursue music. He had difficulty finding other musicians to play with, although he would get anyone he could to get a gig together with. Page as asked by singer Neil Christian to join his band, The Crusaders, after Christian had seen him play at a local hall when Page was fifteen years old. They toured
together for two years. Page recorded on his records, inlcluding the single, "The Road To Love." But Page soon fell ill with glandular fever and couldn't tour with him anymore. Page took up his other interest, painting, and enrolled at Sutton Art College.
Page soon became a session guitarist known as "Little Jim," playing with artists such The Who, The Kinks, and Petula Clark. Session guitarists were they if another guitar was needed to use in the recording. In 1965, Page became a house producer and A&R man for Immediate Records label. He was allowed to produce and play on tracks by aritsts such as Eric Clapton. He even wrote lyrics with Jackie DeShannon and John Williams. He played guitar on five tracks of Joe Cocker's album, With A Little Help From My Friends, and ten tracks for Roy Harper. Page had even played "Little Queen of Spades" by Robert Johnson with Rolling Stones guitarist Keith Richards. The track is a rare one, being released as a bootleg recording on the album Jimmy Page: Session Man.
Page left the studio when Stax Records had influenced popular music with brass and orchestral arrangements. Although he had quit because of this, Page was very pleased with working at the studio, saying that this was good schooling for his development as a musician.
In 1965, Page joined a band called The Yardbirds, replacing Eric Clapton, who had quit. He had still been worried about is health under touring conditions and had initially suggested his friend, Jeff Beck. Together, the two of them, drummer Keith Moon, bass player John Paul Jones, and keyboardist Nicky Hopkins had recorded "Beck's Bolero." Page had thought about creating a supergroup with him, Beck, John Entwistle, and Keith Moon. Although the idea flunked, Moon had suggested a familiar name "Lead Zeppelin," with Entwistle adding that the proceedings would take to the air like a lead balloon.
Page went to a Yardbirds concernt in Oxford where he learned that Paul Samwell-Smith was leaving the band. He offered to replace the band mate and was accepted. He played electric bass before switching places to lead guitar when Chris Dreja moved to bass. After Beck left, the Yardbirds remained and recorded the album, Little Games, making number 80 on the Billboards chart. They peformed concerts where Page played an early version of "Dazed and Confused."
Page and Dreja were the only Yardbird left behind as the others slowly quit. Page decide that he was going to continue the band and quickly went out to recruit musicians. Terry Reid, a singer and composer, was offered the job as lead singer, but he had to turn down the offer. Instead, he suggest someone else - Robert Plant, an undiscovered singer with a strong and beautiful voice. Page quickly snatched up Plant, who suggest his friend John Bonham play on the drums. But then Dreja left to become a rock photographer. So Page recruited Jones to play the bass and keyboards.
The New Yardbirds
The four musicians first played together at a record store on Gerrard Street in London. They played "Train Kept A-Rollin," suggested by Page, where Jones knew they were going to be a hit as soon as he heard Bonham play the drums. The first studio track Led Zeppelin did was "Jim's Blues," a Three Week Hero album for P.J. Proby.
The band had done a Scandinavian Tour in September of 1968. Page had used every penny he had to make the tour work, Plant had recalled, and they made no money at all. They continued on to make a first album, based upon their live set. Page covered the costs himself. After the album was complete, the band was forced to change their name due to a cease and desist letter via Chris Dreja. So the band changed their name from a previously suggest one - Led Zeppelin.
Gaining $200,000 from Atlantic Records that November, Led Zeppelin was now under a contract, having been signed without even auditioning for the record company. Their contract stated that the band would have to release albums, tour, and design the album and its contents. They would also have to promote each release and decide which tracks to release as singles. So Led Zeppelin formed their own company, Superhype, to handle all publishing rights. Jimmy Page decided to produce all of it.
The band announced their new name on October 14, 1968 and played their first show at the University of Surrey in Guildford on October 25. They then played a short British tour. Afterwards, Richard Cole organized their first North American Tour from December to February. They first played in Denver on the 26th followed by East Coast dates before moving to California to play in Los Angeles and San Francisco. The band completed four US and four UK tours during their first year.
Led Zeppelin I, the band's eponymous debut, was released on January 12, 1969 during the US tour and on March 31, 1969 in the UK. Even thought Plant wrote the lyrics with Page, he received no credit. The album itself was number 10 on the Billboard chart and number 6 in the UK.
Led Zeppelin II, their second album, was released on October 22, 1969 to the US and UK. In both countries the album reached number 1. On November 15, the album received a 12x Platinum by the RIAA for selling over 12 million copies. Steve Waksman has said that Led Zeppelin II was "the musical starting point for heavy metal."
Led Zeppelin III was released on October 5, 1970. Page and Plant had originally gone to a cottage in Wales called Bron-Yr-Aur to write the songs on the album. The acoustic sound was due to the influenced folk and Celtic music. Critics and fans were surprised at the turn of electric arrangements from the first two albums to the now third album. "Immigrant Song" was released in November of 1970 against the band's wishes as a si
ngle, reaching the top twenty on the Billboard chart.
By now Led Zeppelin had reached to the top and were critically a success. The band members began to change up their image to more flamboyant clothing. They began to travel in a private jet called The Starship. They would rent out entire sections of hotels. They became the subject of repeated stories of debauchery. Bonham even rode a motorcycle through a rented floor of the Riot House, or the Continental Hyatt House. They were even banned from the Tokyo Hilton for trashing a room they were staying in.
Led Zeppelin IV was released on November 8, 1971. It was a blank album cover as they band wished to be anonymous. It was called Untitled, IV, and Led Zeppelin IV to fans because of the Four Symbols on the sides. Led Zeppelin IV is one of the best-selling albums in history, selling over 23 million copies by 2006.
Houses of the Holy was released on March 28, 1973. It used more experimented sounds, such as the mellotron orchestration and synthesizers. The song "Houses of the Holy" did not appear on the album, but on Physical Graffiti, as it had been being recorded at the same time. The cover of the album was very controversial as it had nude children climbing the Giant's Causeway in Northern Ireland. It was even banned in some parts of the world, like the Bible Belt. The album, though, topped the charts.
At Tampa Stadium, Florida, they played to 56, 800 fans, grossing $309, 000. The film The Song Remains The Same was filmed at Madison Square Garden where they performed three sold out shows. The movie was delayed until 1976 though. $180, 000 of the band's money was stolen from a safe deposit box at the Drake Hotel, causing a huge problem for the band, and striking tons of news.
In 1974, Led Zeppelin took a small break and formed their own record label, Swan Song. named after their unreleased song. Their logo was based off of a drawing called Evening: Fall of Day by William Rimmer. The drawing can be found on Led Zeppelin memorabilia, especially tee shirts. Besides using Swan Song to promote their own albums, they promoted other artists such as Bad Company, The Pretty Things, and Maggie Bell. The label lasted only three years after the band disbanded.
Physical Graffiti was released on February 24, 1975, as the band's sixth studio and double album. Recording the songs were put on hold as Jones debated whether or not to leave the band. But they eventually reunited at Headley Grange to finish recording. Rolling Stone magazine referred to the album as Led Zeppelin's "bid for artistic respectability." Not to mentioned they had to compete with The Rolling Stones and The Who for "The World's Best Rock Band."
In May 1975, Led Zeppelin played five sold-out nights at the Earls Court Arena in London, at the time the largest arena in Britain. Afterwards, they took off and planned a fall tour in America. Unfortunately that August, Plant and his wife, Maureen, were involved in a car crash whole on holiday in Rhodes, Greece. Plant suffered a broken ankle. Maureen was badly injury. A blood transfusion saved her life. Plant stayed in the Channel Island of Jersey that fall to recuperate. They later reconvened in Malibu, California, where they began to write their next album.
Presence was released on March 31, 1976. Many ideas for the album came from the hiatus concerning the cancelled album due to Plant's car accident. During the recording of the album, Page had begun to use heroin, which may have affected their live shows and studio recordings, although Page denies this. The album, however, was a platinum record, but critics suggested that the band's excesses may have caught up with them.
The band did not tour because of Plant's injuries, but instead, they completed the concert film, The Song Remains The Same, and the soundtrack album. Because they had not toured since 1975, the film was not popular in the UK. Led Zeppelin was forced to face an uphill battle to recapture the public's affection.
In 1977, Led Zeppelin toured North America. They set another attendance record of an audience of 76, 229 at Pontiac Silverdome on April 30. According to the Guinness Book of Records, it was the largest attendance to date for a single act show. On April 19, over 70 people were arrested as about 1,000 fans tried to gatecrash the Cincinnati Riverfront Coliseum for two sold out concerts. Others tried to enter by throwing rocks and bottles through glass doors. On June 3, a riot broke out at the Tampa Stadium because of a severe thunderstorm causing the concert to be cut short. Arrests were made and people were seriously injured.
On July 23, Led Zeppelin held a show at the Days on the Green festival at the Oakland Coliseum in Oakland, California. Unfortunately, Bonham and members of the band's support staff were arrested after a promoter from Bill Graham's staff had been badly beaten during the band's performance. The following day's second Oakland concert was the band's final live appearance in the United States.
Two days later, on July 26, as the band checked into a French Quarter hotel, Plant received news that his five year old son, Karac Pendragon, had died from a stomach virus. The rest of the tour was immediately cancelled. Plant retreated to his home in the Midlands, reflecting on his future, mourning the death of his son.
In Through The Out Door was released August 15, 1979, the band's eighth album, and the last album before the death of Bonham. The album reached number 1 on both US and UK sales charts. The song "All My Love" was written by Plant, inspired by the death of Karac.
On October 17, 1980, the band was scheduled for a North American Tour. On September 24, Bonham was picked up by Led Zeppelin assistant Rex King to attend rehearsals at Bray Studio. They stopped for breakfast where Bonham drank four vodkas (450ml/15 oz) with a ham roll, which he simply said to King, "Breakfast." He drank heavily at the studio and was later taken to Page's house - The Old Mill House in Clewer, Windsor. Bonham had fallen asleep after midnight and was taken to his bed, being placed on his side.
At 1:45PM the next day, Led Zeppelin's new tour manager Benji LeFevre and Jones found Bonham dead. The cause of death was asphyxiation from vomit, accidental death. The verdict was found on October 27. An autopsy found no drugs in his system. Bonham was cremated on October 10, 1980, and his ashes were buried at Rishock parish church in Droitwich, Worcestershire.
The tour was cancelled and despite rumors that others would join the group to replace him, the remaining members - Plant, Page, and Jones - decided to disband. A December 5, 1980 press statement stated that, "We wish it to be known that the loss of our dear friend and the deep sense of undivided harmony felt by ourselves and our manager have led us to decide that we could not continue as we were," and was signed, "Led Zeppelin."
Life After Zeppelin
Page refused to pick up another guitar out of sadness of his dear friend John Bonham's death. But in 1981 he joined Jeff Beck on the stage at the Hammersmith Odeon. He formed a supergroup called XYZ (ex-Yes-Zeppelin) with bassist Chris Squire and drummer Alan White. Although they rehearsed several times, the project didn't go as planned. Demos of the sessions were revealed on bootlegs.
In 1982, director Michael Winner and Page recorded the Death Wish II soundtrack and in 1985, Death Wish III soundtrack. They both produced this at Page's recording studio, The Sol, in Cookham. Page had purchased this from Gus Dudgeon in the early 1980s.
Page performed with the A.R.M.S charity series of concerts honoring Ronnie Lane, who suffered from Multiple Sclerosis. Page performed songs from the Death Wish II soundtrack and an instrumental of "Stairway To Heaven." Page was reunited with Beck and Clapton during this US city tour. On December 13, 1983, Page joined Plant on stage for one encore at the Hammermith Odeon in London.
In 1984, Page and Harper collaborated from the Roy Harper album Whatever Happened To Jugula? They performed concerts together occasionally. Page and Plant joined together as The Honeydrippers and developed an album, ''The Honeydrippers: Volume 1''. Page and Jones recorded together for the soundtrack of Scream For Help.
Page and Paul Rodgers recorded two albums, The Firm and Mean Business under their band name of The Firm in 1985 and 1986. The Firm went gold in the US, getting number 17 on the Billboard pop albums chart. Although the band toured together in support of both albums, they soon split up.
Through 1986 to 1993, Page performed with several artists on albums. He did session work for the song "One Hit (to the Body)" for The Rolling Stones. He played on tracks of Strange Land by Box of Frogs. Page released a solo album called Outrider in 1988 with contributions from Plant. In turn, Page contributed to Plant's solo album, Now and Zen. He worked on a collaboration in 1993 with David Coverdale for the album Coverdale Page.
In 1985, Page and other Led Zeppelin members performed at the Live Aid concert. Unfortunately, Page was let down by his poorly tuned Les Paul guitar. On May 14, 1988, Page, Plant, Jones, and Jason Bonham performed at the Atlantic Records 40th Anniversary show. In 1990, Plant and Page performed together to aid the Nordogg-Robbins Music Therapy Centre and the British School for Performing Arts and Technology. Together, they did "Misty Mountain Hop," "Wearing and Tearing," and "Rock and Roll." Besides live concerts, Page performed at the band member's private family functions.
in 1995, Page and Plant performed on MTV's "Unplugged" series, on a 90 minute special titled Unledded. That October, No Quarter: Jimmy Page and Robert Plant Unledded was released on CD. In 2004, the DVD, No Quarter Unleeded was released. With this success, Page and Plant recorded an album in 1998 called Walking Into Clarksdale.
Since 1990, Page has been remastering the entire Led Zeppelin back catalogue and participating in many charities, including the Action For Brazil's Children Trust (ABC Trust), founded by his wife Jimena Gomex-Paratcha in 1998.
Page played guitar for singer Puff Daddy in his song, "Come With Me," which is compared to "Kashmir" and was included in the soundtrack of Godzilla. Page and Puff Daddy performed the song later on Saturday Night Live.
In October of 1999, Page and The Black Crowes performed two nights in a row Led Zeppelin songs as well as old blues and rock standards. The concert was recorded and released as an album titled Live At The Greek in 2000. In 2001, Page went on stage with Fred Durst and Wes Scantlin at the MTV Europe Video Music Awards. They performed the Led Zeppelin song, "Thank You."
In 2005, Page was appointed Officer of the Order of the British Empire in recognition of his Brazilian charity work for Task Brazil and Action For Brazil's Children's Trust. He was made an honorary of Rio de Janeiro and awarded a Grammy award that year.
In November of 2006, Led Zeppelin was inducted into the UK Music Hall of Fame by admirers such as Roger Taylor, Jack White, Tony Iommi, Slash, Joe Perry, and Steven Tyler. He was presented an award and then gave a short speech. Wolfmother played a tribute to Led Zeppelin, playing "Communication Breakdown." He had given an interview to the BBC, saying he had plans to release an album in 2007 with new material and "Led Zeppelin things on the horizon."
On December 10, 2007, Page, Plant, Jones, and Jason Bonham played a charity concert at the O2 Arena in London.
For the 2008 Olympics, Page, David Beckham, and Leona Lewis represented Britian by performing during the closing ceremonies on August 24. Beckham rode a bus into the stadium and Page and Lewis performed "Whole Lotta Love."
In 2008 Page produced a film by Davis Guggenheim titled It Might Get Loud, a documentary about the history of the electric guitar. In premiered on September 5, 2008 at the Toronto Film Festival. Page was also in the 3 part documentary, London Calling: The Making of the Olympic Handover Ceremony on March 4, 2009.
On June 7, 2008, Page and Jones performed with the Foo Fighters to close out the band's concert at the Wembley Stadium. They performed "Rock and Roll" and "Ramble On." On April 4, 2009, Page inducted Jeff Beck into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. On December 16, 2009, while talking to Sky News, Page announced his 2010 solo tour.
In January of 2010, Page announced he is publishing an autobiography in a hand-crafted, limited edition of 2, 500 copies. He has also been honored with a first-ever Global Peace award by the United Nation's Pathways To Peace organization after reports that he would be a headliner at the Show of Peace Concert in Beijing, China on October 10, 2010.
On June 3, 2011, Jimmy Page played with Donovan "Mellow Yellow" and "Sunshine Superman" twice, live at the Royal Albert Hall in London, a filmed concert. Page made an appearance with The Black Crowes at the Shepherd's Bush Empire in London on July 13, 2011. He also played alongside Roy Harper at Harper's 70th birthday celebratory concert, in London's Royal Festival Hall on July 13 2011.
In November of 2011, the Conservative MP Louise Mensch launched a campaign to have Page knighted for his contributions to the music industry.
Page has admitted to using drugs throughout the 1970s. He has said that "drugs were an integral part of the whole thing, right from the beginning, right to the end." He has said that he went over the top, not remembering what had happened. In 1975, Page had began to use heroin and used the drug during the recording sessions of the Led Zeppelin album ''Presence''. Page admitted that he was even addicted to the drug.
But by the 1977 US tour, his heroin addiction was getting too much to handle. Page had began to lose a lot of weight and his guitar playing wasn't like it used to be. He had even isolated himself from Plant as the two were a great pair. On the album ''In Through The Out Door'', Page had barely influenced it. He was absent from the studio for long periods of time.
But by the 1980s, Page had kicked his heroin addict, not very proud of the criticism he had received from the press, and the offence he took when heroin had been associated with his name In a 1988 interview with Musician magazine, he insisted "Do I look as if I'm a smack addict? Well, I'm not. Thank you very much."
"I don't regret it at all because when I needed to be really focused," he told Q magazine. "I was really focused. That's it. Both Presence and In Through the Out Door were only recorded in three weeks: that's really going some. You've got to be on top of it."
- 1959 Fender Telecaster
- 1959 Gibson Les Paul Standard (No. 1)
- 1959 Gibson Les Paul Standard (No. 2)
- 1991 English luthier Roger Giffin built a guitar for Page based loosely on Page's #2.
- 1971 Gibson EDS-1275
- 1959Danelectro 59-DC
- Danelectro 3021
- 1967 Vox 12 - String
- 1960 BlackGibson Les Paul Custom
- Because the guitar was too heavy, one of Jimmy Page'sLes Paul Custom Black Beauty guitars is now owned by Dan Hawkins of The Darkness
- 1969 Gibson Les Paul Standard
- 1964 Lake Placid BlueFender Stratocaster
- 1966 Cream Fender Telecaster
- 1953 Brown
- 1965Fender Electric XII (12-String)
- 1972 Martin D28
Gibson released Jimmy Page Signature Les Paul which was discontinued in 1999, then released another version in 2004, which has also been discontinued. The 2004 version included 25 guitars signed by Page, 150 aged by a former Gibson employee (an acknowledged ageing 'master'), and 840 'unlimited' production guitars. The Jimmy Page SignatureEDS-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 until present. 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).
- Pamela Des Barres
- Bebe Buell
- Lori Maddox
- Charlotte Martin (1970 to 1982/1983)
- Patricia Ecker (1986-1995)
- Jimena Gomez-Paratcha
- Scarlet Page (born in 1971 with Charlotte Martin)
- James Patrick Page III (born in 1988 with Patricia Ecker)
- Jana (born in 1994, Jimena Gomez-Paratcha's daughter, who Jimmy adopted)
- Zofia Jade (born in 1997 with Jimena Gomez-Paratcha)
- Ashen Josan (born in 19999 with Jimena Gomez-Paratcha)