Forefather of Heavy Metal
“Let me explain something about guitar playing. Everyone's got their own character and that's the thing that's amazed me about guitar playing since the day I first picked it up. Everyone's approach to what can come out of six strings is different from another person, but it's all valid.” Jimmy Page
English guitarist, composer and record producer Jimmy Page first made a name for himself as one of top session guitarists and producers in Britain before committing himself to a full-time band, The Yardbirds, from 1966 to 1968. The guitar master, however, did not reach the peak of his fame until he founded the legendary rock band Led Zeppelin in the late 1960s along with bassist John Paul Jones, vocalist Robert Plant and drummer John Bonham. Page lent a hand in writing (or co-writing) Zeppelin's vast array of classic songs and produced all their albums. Credited as a forefather of heavy metal, Page's work with Zeppelin has influenced perhaps every rock guitarist from the late '60s, early '70s, to present day and served as a blueprint for what is known as heavy metal. Since the demise of Led Zeppelin in 1980, he has worked in various groups, including The Firm, Coverdale-Page and Page and Plant, and is set to record new material in 2007. Page released his first solo recording, Outsider, in 1988.
Page was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1992 as a member of The Yardbirds, and again in 1995, as a member of Led Zeppelin. In 2003, Rolling Stone magazine ranked him No. 9 on their list of “100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time.” He also was once voted one of VH1's “100 Greatest Artists of Rock & Roll,” while Led Zeppelin topped the magazine's ranking of “Greatest Artist of Hard Rock.” In 2006, Led Zeppelin was inducted into the UK Music Hall of Fame.
Apart from his acknowledged musical career, Page is known for his charity endeavors and in 2005, he was awarded an Order of the British Empire (OBE) by Queen Elizabeth II in recognition of his services to charity.. He currently actively takes parts in various charity concerts and charity work, especially the Action for Brazil's Children Trust (ABC Trust), founded by present wife Jimena Gomez-Paratcha in 1998.
“I had an interest going back to my teens in the pre-Raphaelite movement and the architecture of Burges. What a wonderful world to discover.” Jimmy Page
Page is a well-thought-of expert on the life and work of William Burges. In 1972, he purchased from Richard Harris a London home that Burges designed for himself called “The Tower House.”
As for his love life, the fan of Chelsea FC has been married three times and is the father of four children. He has dated many famous groupies, including Pamela Des Barres and Bebe Buel, and once was romantically involved with songwriting partner Jackie DeShannon.
Childhood and Family:
Jimmy Page was born on January 9, 1944, in Heston, Middlesex, England, to an industrial personnel manager father and a secretary mother. His birth name was James Patrick Page. The family moved to Miles Road, in Epsom when he was 8 years old. A largely self-taught guitarist, Jimmy picked up the guitar for the first time at age 12 and took a few lessons in nearby Kingston. He was influenced by pop music guitarists James Burton and Scotty Moore, who both played on recordings made by the King of Rock-n-Roll Elvis Presley and Johnny Day. With his second-hand 1959 Futurama Grazioso, young Jimmy use to play one of his favorite songs, Presley's “Baby Let's Play House.” He also learned acoustic folk from Bert Jansch and John Renbourn and the blues sound from Elmore James and B.B. King.
At age 14, Jimmy left school to chase his musical career but was forced to put his dreams on the backburner after falling seriously ill with glandular fever. He switched his focus to his other love, painting, and attended Sutton Art College in Surrey. While still a student, he gradually made a return to his first passion, music.
Jimmy has been married three times. He and his first wife, French model Charlotte Martin, had a daughter named Scarlet Page in March 1971. Scarlet is now a noted photographer. After divorcing, he married Patricia Ecker in 1986. His second marriage ended January 16, 1995, and produced a son, James (born in 1988). Jimmy is now married to Jimena Gomez-Paratcha and has two kids with her.
Founder of Led Zeppelin
Picking up his first guitar at age 12, Jimmy Page made his first public appearance two years later on Huw Wheldon's All Your Own. After leaving school, he briefly supported poet Royston Ellis and singer Red E. Lewis and was invited by singer Neil Christian to join his rock band, The Crusaders. With Christian, he toured England for about two years and later played on several of Christian's records, including the 1962 single “The Road to Lover.” When Page became seriously ill, he was forced to quit and recoup. Depressed, he decided to shelf his musical career and turned to painting by enrolling at an art school in Sutton, Surrey.
The emergence of such bands as the Rolling Stones in the early 1960s stimulated Page's interest in music once again. However, instead of establishing his own band, he chose to perfect his craft by becoming a session guitarist and later, a producer. While pursuing his art studies, Page found himself jamming on stage at the Marquee with bands like Alexis Korner's Blues Incorporated, Cyril Davies' All Stars and with guitarists Jeff Beck and Eric Clapton. One night, he was discovered by John Gibb of The Silhouettes, who asked him to help record numerous singles for EMI, among them “The Worrying Kind.” He, however, did not gain regular studio work until Mike Leander of Decca Records handed him the opportunity. Jet Harris & Tony Meehan's “Diamonds,” Page's first work for the label, went to No. 1 on the singles chart in early 1963.
Following short tenures with Mike Hurst's group, Carter-Lewis and the Southerners, and Mickey Finn and the Blue Men, Page began to work in music full time. Known as “Little Jim,” his studio products in 1964 included The Rolling Stones' “Heart of Stone” (alternate version), Marianne Faithfull's “As Tears Go By,” The Nashville Teens' “Tobacco Road,” Van Morrison & Them's “Baby Please Don't Go” and “Here Comes the Night,” Brenda Lee's “Is It True” and Dave Berry's “The Crying Game” and “My Baby Left Me.” Under the endorsement of producer Shel Talmy, he lent his talent to a 1964 debut album by The Kinks and The Who's first single “I Can't Explain,” as well as the group's B-side track “Bald Headed Woman.” Then in 1965, Rolling Stone manager Andrew Loog Oldham recruited Page as house producer and A&R man for the newly-founded Immediate Records label, a duty that still permitted him to play and/or produce tracks by such artists as Eric Clapton, John Mayall and Nico. During this same period, he also had a short-lived songwriting affiliation with Jackie DeShannon.
In February 1965, Page was offered a place left by Eric Clapton in The Yardbirds, but suggested his friend, Jeff Beck, fill the position. He finally joined the group in 1966 as their bass player, following the departure of Paul Samwell-Smith. Constant touring and a lack of commercial success led to interpersonal conflicts though they managed to release a single called “Happenings Ten Years Time Ago.” After Beck left the group, the Yardbirds recorded a moderate hit album, Little Games, with Page on lead guitar. The band became heavier and more experimental with musical aspects that Page later perfected with his signature band, Led Zeppelin.
The Yardbirds decided to call it quits in 1968 after the departure of Keith Relf and Jim McCarty. With a string of tour dates still set up throughout Europe, he managed to go through with the shows and put together a new band named The New Yardbirds with longtime session bassist John Paul Jones, and newcomers Robert Plant on vocals and John Bonham on drums. After completing their initial tour, on a suggestion by Keith Moon, the drummer of The Who, the band changed its name to Led Zeppelin and looked into the still largely-chartless territory of hard rock/heavy metal.
Led Zeppelin soon dominated the rock scene and became one of the most successful and enduring bands. Through 1969 to 1975, they produced such classic albums as Led Zeppelin I, Led Zeppelin II, Led Zeppelin III, Led Zeppelin IV, Houses of the Holy, and Physical Graffiti, and spawned classic rock radio standards like “Dazed and Confused,” “Whole Lotta Love,” “Immigrant Song,” “Black Dog,” “Stairway to Heaven” and “Kashmir,” while also gaining popularity by their live performances. In between his hectic schedule with his band, Page also found time to contribute to folk artist Roy Harper's 1971 release, Stormcock. Arguably the biggest rock band in the world in the mid 1970s, Led Zeppelin launched their own record company, Swan Song, but it was around this time that Page began using heroin and other substances that eventually led to him becoming a total nut by the late '70s and early '80s. The group maintained their presence by releasing albums and embarking on their must-watched concerts, most notably a 1979 show at the Knebworth Festival that was attended by 420,000, until the band decided to call it quits in late 1980, after the death of drummer John Bonham.
Shortly after the break up, Page vanished from the public aye and did not made his comeback until 1982 when he composed and played on the movie soundtracks for Death Wish I and Death Wish II and collected the Zeppelin outtakes collection called Coda. In 1983, he participated in the star-studded A.R.M.S. Tour, which reunited him with Beck and Eric Clipton for a string of fund-raising shows for multiple sclerosis research. In 1984, Page appeared as a guest artist, along with Plant, Back and Nile Rodgers, on the successful EP of rock & roll oldies The Honeydrippers, and set up his first band since the death of Zeppelin, the Firm, along with ex-Free/Bad Company vocalist Paul Rodgers. The Firm's self-titled debut album was an ample hit, but shortly after the release of the lukewarm sophomore effort, Mean Business, in 1986, the group decided to disband.
In July 1985, Page reunited with Zeppelin's two surviving members (drummers Tony Thompson and Phil Collins) for the big Live Aid at Philadelphia's JFK Stadium. They worked together again in 1988 for the Atlantic Records 25th Anniversary Concert at New York's Madison Square Garden with Bonham's son, Jason, filling in for his late father. Unfortunately, both performances were considered sub-standard. Also in 1988, Page was featured as a guest star on Plant's solo release, Now & Zen, and published his first ever solo album, Outrider.
In the early 1990s, Page teamed up with former Deep Purple/Whitesnake vocalist David Coverdale for an act called Coverdale-Page, but they split up after producing an album in 1993. The following year saw Page rejoin, once again, Plant in a duo named Page and Plant where they launched an acoustic album, No Quarter, that same year. This was followed by an extremely popular MTV Unplugged special and sold-out world tour. Walking into Clarksdale, an album of all-new material released in 1998. Page and Plant eventually worked separately in the late 1990s when Page joined the Black Crowes for a tour and live album (the 2000 Live at the Greek). Also in 1998, Page played guitar for rap singer/producer Puff Daddy's song “Come with Me,” which was included in the soundtrack of the box office film Godzilla.
In 2001, Page shared the stage with Limp Bizkit frontman Fred Durst and Wes Scantlin of Puddle of Mudd on the MTV Europe Video Music Awards in Frankfurt, in which they performed a version of Led Zeppelin's “Thank You.” The same year, he also performed with Plant in a concert to celebrate the 60th birthday of their friend, folk artist Roy Harper.
In 2006, when Page attended the induction of Led Zeppelin to the UK Music Hall of Fame, he announced plans to produce a new album in 2007, saying, “It's an album that I really need to get out of my system. There's a good album in there and it's ready to come out. Also, there will be some Zeppelin things on the horizon.”