Jimmy Page has conducted an intimate, in-depth interview with Classic Rock magazine looking back over his storied career and hinting that he’s not ready to lay down his guitar just yet.
In one of the most wide-ranging interviews of his career, Page reflects upon his musical journey from his days as a chorister at St. Barnabas Church in Epsom, to finding his first ‘Excalibur’ guitar, to meeting Mick Jagger and Keith Richards in 1962 at the American Folk Blues Festival in Manchester, through to his apprenticeship as a session guitarist, the founding of Led Zeppelin and beyond.
Asked whether Zeppelin would have continued to make new music had the death of drummer John Bonham in 1980 not led to their break-up, Page reveals that there were already discussions on-going as to where the quartet might venture next musically.
“John Bonham and I discussed what sort of shape the next album should be, because each album was different to the last,” says Page. “It just so happened thatt Presence was basically a guitar album, so as John Paul Jones had his Dream Machine [a Yamaha GX-1 synthesiser, used extensively on In Through the Out Door], it was only right to do a keyboard album. So we had been discussing what we’d do for the next one, and there were definite ideas of what we could do.”
Page goes to discuss his hope that his un-released work with XYZ, his short-lived project with Yes duo Chris Squire and Alan White, might yet get an official release (“it’s really good music… fascinating to listen to”), his memories of working with Paul Rodgers (as The Firm), David Coverdale and the Black Crowes, and his post Zeppelin work with Robert Plant on the Unledded and Walking Into Clarksdale albums.
Inevitably, talk turns towards what musical projects Page might have up his sleeve, to which the guitarist offers a somewhat cryptic and intriguing answer.
“I’m never not doing something,” he says, “and I’m never not doing something that’s going to surprise people. It’s like when I did a spoken word project with my girlfriend [2019’s Catalyst, with poet Scarlett Sabet]. Nobody was expecting me to do that, because nobody had done that before. It was really wonderful to do. But I’ve always got ideas, and the day that I wake up and haven’t got any ideas of what to do and how to do it, that for me will be a very sad day. And that day looks like it’s some way off yet.”
“One of the things I was complaining about before we all had to lock down was that I wasn’t having enough time to play guitar. I was able to actually say: ‘Well, this is it. You can do it every day now.’ So, it’s given me an opportunity to reconnect properly with the guitar.”
Page is also asked whether he harbours any regrets when looking back upon his life, and has this to say: “Regrets can grow into resentments, can’t they? And I try not to hold resentments. Processing them makes life more like a load. The thing about life is that it isn’t all wine and roses. Well, it certainly isn’t wine for me any more [Page has been sober for a number of years], it’s a rocky road and a topographical landscape that’s sometimes difficult to navigate. So, what do you have to do? You have to rethink it… and it’s good to be able to think in a more positive way than in a negative way.”
* Copies of the new issue of Classic Rock can be purchased online from Magazines Direct - make sure you select issue 281 from the dropdown menu.
* Classic Rock is on sale in the UK in shops such as supermarkets and newsagents, although delays are possible as stores prioritise the delivery of different lines of stock.
* Save money by buying a physical subscription. UK and overseas subscriptions are available - you can also subscribe below.
* The postal service is working, although delays are possible.
* For overseas subscribers whose issues have been delayed by COVID-related restrictions on freight, stockpiled issues were despatched in August, and while local delays are pushing delivery times further back, magazines are being delivered.