Jimmy Page: I Formed Led Zeppelin With an Idea That It Was Going to Change Music

Richard C.


The guitar master Jimmy Page talked about how Led Zeppelin impacted the world of music in a recent interview by the American Academy of Achievement, saying:

"When I formed Led Zeppelin, I formed it with the idea and ethos that it was going to change music. That's what I wanted to do. And it clearly did. And it brought to the forefront these master craftsmen that were involved in that band.

"The interesting part of it all is that here I am now. It's 24 when I formed that band and I'm 74 now. And the lifetime achievement of it is the fact that even from the time that that first album came out... Even though I've been a studio musician and played on countless records and albums, the amount of people that I've met throughout my life since the age of 24 said that Led Zeppelin music has meant so much to their lives. And that's a wonderful thing, a remarkable thing, to know that you've made a difference in people's lives.

"But not only that. In parallel with that are young musicians who have been impressed by the production techniques, by the guitar playing and the very styles of guitar playing, by the songwriting, and they have been inspired to be musicians themselves. And that's a wonderful legacy to have, to know that you've been able to do something which has made a change. Something which was your hobby, something which was your passion, something which you believed in all the way through and you wouldn't deviate from it. But the thing that you believe that you had to do was keep making an improvement on your own personal performance and what you could do and expanding the whole horizons of everything.

"And that's very difficult to actually convey it. Because I think music is something that you actually feel on the emotional level as much as an intellectual level. But it's good to actually hear the music, to be able to give examples. But I know, I know instinctively that the various construction that was used in the music of Led Zeppelin is sort of... The example is the song like a 'Babe I'm Gonna Leave You,' 'Ramble On,' it has got like the acoustic guitar and then comes into a full-on song with chorus which people would refer to as a power chorus. Well, I know that all bands in the 1980s were using that technique. I think just the whole approach to it, the whole taste that was employed, had a lot of appreciation."

During the interview, Page also talked about the creative process behind the scene of Zeppelin's iconic 1975 tune "Kashmir," saying:

"Most of the time when I wasn't touring with Led Zeppelin, I would be working at home on the guitar - I'd be working on pieces of music that I would direct towards the next album that would be recorded when that time would come. And I had one piece of music that was an absolute epic.

"I'd overlaid sort of bass and electric guitars. It was an acoustic guitar piece to start with. And a mellotron. Mellotron would allow you to play in a keyboard way string sections and brass and etcetera.

"I had this piece, it was really quite ambitious at the time. And right at the very end of all this guitar noodling there was this phrase. It went... *sings the descending and the main riff from 'Kashmir'* I thought, 'That's really wonderful. That's really interesting.' So I started to play it and I realized that you could play it in this sort of mantric fashion. And it was almost like a round where it would come around upon itself.

"And that first phrase - because it's back to front from the way it is on the record - I thought, 'If that is played over this sort of mantric riff with this cascading, brass is gonna be really interesting...'

"And I thought the density of it comes more into something like 'When the Levee Breaks' [off 1971's 'Led Zeppelin IV'], which is really dense. But I visualized it with an orchestra. So yeah, I could see it and I could hear it.

"I think 'When The Levee Breaks' was groundbreaking at the time. I think the very first album of Led Zeppelin changed everything in the way that people recorded. Then they went into the world of ambient recording. The first album was full of so many ideas that hadn't been done before. So that has to be said and that's on top of the list really because without the first album there wouldn't have been a second album."

Transcribed by sonicake.com