10 Revealing Jimmy Page Quotes

Jimmy Page has never been one to talk. At least not to journalists. It’s been 40 years since Led Zeppelin mania first broke, and the interviews that Page has granted since then have been few and far between.

As Page himself has said, “I can communicate far better on a guitar than I can through my mouth.” When Zeppelin called it quits in 1980 after the death of drummer John Bonham, Page became especially reticent to talk to the press, purposefully dodging talk of a Zeppelin reunion — an enduring and international obsession of classic rock fans.

But when a reporter can, in the right moment, coax Page into reflecting back on Zeppelin or his work as a guitarist, it’s worth a listen. Here are 10 especially revealing Jimmy Page quotes.

On Led Zeppelin’s early tours, told to The Times in 2010: “The tours took a lot … well, did it take a lot out of me? I don’t know whether it did. It gave as much to me as it took out. It was like being on a permanent adrenalin drip, do you know what I mean? [Playing live was] to be right on the edge of the moment.” On Zeppelin’s enduring popularity: “We went in and recorded exactly where we were at that point in time. I think because of the quality of musicianship of the band has given it the longevity. I thought the music would endure, I didn’t think I would … I always thought I’d be dead by 30, then dead by 40 and on and on. Now I’m 55 so I didn’t even die at 50.”

On his identity as a guitarist, told to Guitar World in 1993: “Many people think of me as just a riff guitarist, but I think of myself in broader terms. As a musician I think my greatest achievement has been to create unexpected melodies and harmonies within a rock and roll framework. And as a producer I would like to be remembered as someone who was able to sustain a band of unquestionable individual talent, and push it to the forefront during its working career. I think I really captured the best of our output, growth, change and maturity on tape — the multifaceted gem that is Led Zeppelin.”

On his Gibson EDS-1275 Double Neck, told to Crawdaddy Magazine in 1975: “The other night we played in the Philadelphia Spectrum, which really is a black hole as a concert Hall … The security there is the most ugly of anywhere in the States. I saw this incident happen and I was almost physically sick. In fact, if I hadn’t been playing the guitar I was playing it would’ve been over somebody’s head. It was a double-neck, which is irreplaceable, really, unless you wait another nine months for them to make another one at Gibson.”

On the power of music, told to The Scotsman in 2010: “If I ever really felt depressed, I would just start putting on all my old records that I played as a kid, because the whole thing that really lifted me then still lifted me during those other times. It was good medicine for me, and it still does that for me when I put something on. Isn’t it wonderful that we’ve got all that good medicine? I think it’s got to be all part of our DNA, this mass communication through music. That’s what it is. It’s got to be, hasn’t it? Music is the one thing that has been consistently there for me. It hasn’t let me down.”

On the legacy of Zeppelin drummer John Bonham: “Almost the moment he died, they put him in Playboy as one of the greatest drummers, which he was — there’s no doubt about it. There’s never been anybody since. He’s one of the greatest drummers that ever lived.”

On his first guitar and his Black Beauty, told to Guitar Player magazine in 1977: “[I got my first guitar] When I was 14. It was all a matter of trying to pick up tips and stuff. There weren’t many method books, really apart from jazz, which had no bearing on rock whatsoever at the time. But the first guitar was a Grazzioso, which was a copy of a Stratocaster; then I got a real Stratocaster; then those Gibson Black Beauties which stayed with me for a long time until some thieving magpie took it to his nest. That’s the guitar I did all the ’60s sessions on. I was one of the first people in England to have [a Gibson “Black Beauty” Les Paul Custom], but I didn’t know that then. I just saw it on the wall, had a go with it, and it was good. I traded a Gretsch Chet Atkins I’d had before for the Les Paul.”

On growing as a guitarist, told to music journalist Steven Rosen in 1986: “There’s so much that can be done on the guitar. I’ve only done a few bits and pieces, really, considering what can be done. Alright, let’s go from one extreme to the other. The gut-strung guitar, the classical guitar, that is a whole different world on its own. And we’re talking to guitar players here so they know that. It’s really fine within its horizons. And then you get into the steel-strung acoustic guitar and the electric guitars as such. When you think what the guitar can do and what every individual player does with a guitar, everyone has their own identity coming through the guitar. And then to talk about exploration and what I’ve done, there’s so much that can be done on the guitar. And that’s what is so good about the guitar — everyone can really enjoy themselves on it and have a good time, which is what it’s all about. Right?”

On the documentary It Might Get Loud, told to red carpet reporter in 2009: “There were lots of things that shouldn’t have been in [It Might Get Loud] that were. But that’s it; it’s a documentary. You open your heart up to this sort of thing. You lay there naked, hoping to be clothed.”

On playing with Led Zeppelin again, told to BBC News in 2007: “It was so exhilarating to play together. We actually got together in a clandestine rehearsal situation with Robert and Jason Bonham, John Paul Jones and myself. The hardest thing really, having anything to do with Led Zeppelin was getting together and rehearsing without anybody finding out about it. We went in there with such a will that everyone wanted it to succeed on the playing level that it did. It was dynamite.”




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