Ladies and gentlemen: Jimmy Page.
James Patrick Page, better known as Jimmy Page of the iconic rock band Led Zeppelin, turns 67 years old on January 9th. The glossy black hair has mellowed to a silver mane, but those fingers...oh lord, those fingers how they still fly across the fretboard. He moves from acoustic, to hard rock, to blues with effortless ease; the envy of any guitarist. He steps onto stage and it becomes a master class for any musician. Dubbed a "guitar god" by many, his style has been described as melodic, bluesy, flashy, spontaneous, and diverse. I think the solos shown in the video above exemplify all those descriptors.
At the ripe old age of 14 he was already making television appearances. Although the host of this show really creeps me out, it's amazing to see the young boy version of Jimmy just beginning to hone his craft.
Jimmy's career began as a session musician playing for The Who, The Kinks, Marianne Faithful, The Rolling Stones, Petula Clark, and Van Morrison to name a few.
In 1966 he joined The Yardbirds and stayed with the band until 1968. Jimmy wanted to stay with his preferred heavy style of playing and the others wanted to play folk and classically influenced music so they parted ways. Shapes of Things,
the next video, is considered by many to be one of the first psychedelic rock songs.
1968 was a banner year of music. Jimmy Page, Robert Plant, John Paul Jones, and Jon Bonham joined forces to form one of the greatest and most influential bands of modern times, Led Zeppelin. With Jimmy carrying the song, Bonham and Jones driving it forward and Plant keeping it soaring upward they filled stadiums with their sound. Anne Bredon, the composer of this next song Babe, I'm Gonna Leave You
, wrote it in the late 1950's while she was a student at U.C.Berkeley. First covered by folk singer Joan Baez, it soared in popularity once Led Zeppelin got their fingers on it.
Rolling Stone magazine has called Led Zeppelin the heaviest band of all time, the biggest band of the 70s, and one of the most enduring band in rock history. I love the dark, heavy sound that Jimmy sets in this performance of Dazed and Confused
. If you don't care to watch the whole performance skip to 2:45 when Jimmy breaks out the violin bow. Such an innovation for the time.
A softer side of Jimmy from 1972 bootleg Bombay Sessions.
Stairway to Heaven
is perhaps the most well-known rock anthem of the era. With its very recognizable guitar solo intro, every new rock guitarist wants to master it. Labeled the greatest guitar solo of all time by both Guitar World magazine and Total Guitar magazine, it is one of the most recognized riffs in rock. One You Tube version I found of this song has over 20 million hits on it. Just a small testimony to its popularity. At 10+ minute long this video requires attention , but give Jimmy a couple minutes of your time and watch him weave his magic.
Does anyone else remember this scene from the Wayne's World movie?
Along with hundreds of thousands of other fans I jumped into the lottery ticket pick to try to see Led Zeppelin when they got back together for one show in London in 2007. No such luck. I was interested to hear Jimmy's take on the show in the weeks prior during this interview and his opinion on why the band doesn't come back together for good.
Robert Plant, Page's friend and bandmate, had this to say about Jimmy when honoring him at the 2007 Classic Rock Magazine Awards and his Living Legend Award.
Jimmy is one musician I have never had the pleasure to see perform live. I've enjoyed every album, every DVD, and cd remastering. But seeing him play in concert is one thing I have yet to achieve. I have not given up hope. For now, I can crank up the volume and appreciate his talents. Call me a groupie if you will. I wear the banner proudly. Happy birthday, Jimmy! And thank you.
Thank You-released on 1969's Led Zeppelin II
image from bing.com