JIMMY PAGE The many faces of
The wonderful and often mysterious world of one of rock’s greatest inventors is unveiled by Richard Barrett who looks at both his acoustic and electric styles; all fully transcribed with backing tracks.
Jimmy Page is one of the most important and influential guitarists of our time. Richard Barrett dissects his electric and acoustic styles with some amazing licks, solos and pieces to learn.
It’s hard to imagine a time before those iconic images of Jimmy Page playing his 1959 Les Paul Standard with a violin bow, or hoisting his cherry red doubleneck high at the climax of Stairway To Heaven were so universal. When a young James Page appeared on TV with his skiffle group in 1957, he declared his own future career path as “biological research”. In truth he was dedicating himself to research of a very different kind – though every bit as detailed – from assimilating the acoustic folk of Bert Jansch and John Renbourn, to North African and Indian folk music, plus the more conventional (from a present day perspective) blues and rock and roll.
As a young player sitting in with the interval band at London’s Marquee club, Jimmy was offered the chance to play on a recording session. This became a regular occurrence and Jimmy was soon one of the go-to ‘young guns’ on the London session scene, featuring on a mountain of releases during the 1960s. Major artists like Petula Clark, Tom Jones, Donovan – and by all accounts the Kinks and The Who – benefitted from his prodigious talent. After a stint playing bass and then guitar alongside Jeff Beck as replacement for Eric Clapton in The Yardbirds, Jimmy reimagined the band post break-up at the end of the 1960s. His meticulously sourced selection of world-class players - John-Paul Jones on bass, piano and other instruments, John ‘Bonzo’ Bonham on drums, and of course legendary vocalist Robert Plant - soon became known as Led Zeppelin - apparently coined by The Who’s Keith Moon (or some would have it, John Entwistle) who told him, “You’ll go down like a lead Zeppelin!”.
Knowing this back story gives us some perspective on how Jimmy developed such a wide diversity of playing styles as well as his recording studio discipline and production skills. Many of the more generalised music publications have referred to Led Zeppelin as ‘the godfathers of heavy metal’, but this is an over-simplification that doesn’t do justice to the breadth of styles covered in their extensive back catalogue.
The Houses Of The Holy album (1973) alone contains elements of what would now be called indie (The Song Remains The Same), James Brown-style funk (The Crunge), jazz (The Rain Song), world music (check out John Paul Jones’ piano section in the middle of No Quarter) and reggae (D’yer Maker), along with classic riffs and odd timing shifts (The Ocean). This was not just heavy metal - it wasn’t even just rock!
Though it would be impossible to cover all the styles Jimmy has experimented with in the space of one feature, I’ve gone for some of the more universally recognised classics; riffs, solos, textures, acoustic and altered tunings, plus a condensed ‘song’ format as a play-along to top things off! As with any player, there will be elements of their style that we all hear slightly differently. Of course, Led Zeppelin were famous for improvising and expanding further on all these areas live but I hope this gives a few interesting suggested ideas to play and explore further, and hopefully prove useful when creating your own music.
WHEN SITTING IN WITH THE INTERVAL BAND AT LONDON’S MARQUEE CLUB, JIMMY WAS OFFERED THE CHANCE TO PLAY ON A RECORDING SESSION