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Musicians: Guitarist Jimmy Page Essay

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Updated: May 16th, 2020

Introduction

Jimmy Page, also known as James Patrick Page, is a prominent English guitarist, songwriter, and record producer. Page attained international acclaim as a guitarist while playing for the Yardbirds and Led Zeppelin rock music bands. Page was the leader of the Led Zeppelin Band. Due to his achievements throughout his career, Page is considered by many to be both the most successful and most influential guitarist in the history of rock music.

Born in 1944 in Heston, West London, Page learned to play the guitar at the tender age of twelve (Case, 2007). Among the people who greatly influenced his practice are guitar legends Scotty Moore and James Burton. The duo played on Elvis Presley’s recordings. Jimmy Page first emerged in the musical limelight in 1957, during the All Your Own talent show on BBC1, when he was only thirteen-years-old (Gulla, 2009). At the time, he played a Hofner President. However, Page insists that his first-ever instrument was a 1959 Futurama Grazioso. Later on, he acquired a Fender Telecaster.

His Early Career in Rock Music

Page fully decided to pursue a music career and left Danetree Secondary School in 1959. He later landed a deal with the Crusaders, under the leadership of Niel Christian while he was fifteen. While still working with the Crusaders, Page always found time to work on individual projects. For instance, in 1962, he released his first single known as “The Road to Love” (Case, 2007). Unfortunately, after a while, he contracted glandular fever and became indisposed and unable to manage the many Crusaders’ musical tours. For a while, he halted his career in music and opted to concentrate on fine art. He then joined the Sutton College of Art.

However, as a student in the art college, Page never abandoned his guitar playing. He performed at the college with several groups until he was noticed and approached by the leader of the Brian Howard & the Silhouettes Band, John Gibb (Hoskyns, 2006). He worked as a session musician for some time, and he declined several offers from rock bands such as The Yardbirds. He mobilized artists such as Jeff Beck, Nicky Hopkins, John Paul Jones, and Keith Moon to make recordings such as “Becks’ Bolero” (Case, 2007). The success of these projects gave him the idea to form the Led Zeppelin band.

After Samwell-Smith had left the Yardbirds, Page offered to replace him, suspending the idea to form his own band. Initially, he played the electric bass but later on moved to the twin lead guitar alongside Beck (Hoskyns, 2006). After some members of the Yardbirds band had left, Page changed its name to Led Zeppelin. The group endured the test of time throughout the 70s, but it disbanded in 1980. It was while at Led Zeppelin that Page’s star shone the brightest. Ever since Page has been part of most rock and roll projects even into the 2010s.

Equipment and Recording

Guitars

Page was a no doubt a maestro since he excelled with numerous guitar makers. From the time he formed the Led Zeppelin in 1968, Page sometimes used a Gibson Les Paul that had Marshall Amplification (Case, 2007). In several stage performances, he commonly used a Harmony Sovereign H-1260, especially during Led Zeppelin III and IV. Also, while recording “Stairway to Heaven,” Page used a Fender Telecaster (Gulla, 2009). The Danelectro 3021 was the other guitar that Page commonly played, especially during live concerts. Page displayed his outstanding guitar mastery as he would at times play it with a cello bow. He mastered the technique in the 1960s when he was a session musician but perfected it while with Led Zeppelins.

Amplifiers, Effects, and Production techniques

Jimmy Page made most of Led Zeppelin studio recordings by using the Axis, Vox, Orange, and Fender amplifications (Gulla, 2009). However, in the live performances, he employed either the Marshall or Hiwatt amplifications. For instance, he played the first album at Led Zeppelin using a Fender Telecaster and employing Supro amplification. He also sparingly applied some effects such as Maestro Echoplex, MXR Phase 90, Dunlop Crybaby, among others.

Besides being an extraordinary guitarist, Jimmy Page is also an acknowledged figure as a result of his outstanding innovations in sound recording. Despite that, he learned most of the unique recording styles while he was a session musician; it is at Led Zeppelin, where Page employed them. He experimented with the different uses of microphone effects and amplification. For instance, his placement of a microphone some distance next to the amplifier made him a pioneer in recording the rock band’s “ambient sound” (Case, 2007).

Personal opinion of the guitarist

Jimmy Page’s creativity and innovation as a guitarist is outstanding. As such, I consider him one of the best talents ever in rock music. His extraordinary style – that incorporates effects and mastery of the guitar has inspired many contemporary guitarists. It is as a result of his unending experimentation with different techniques that made his career success for such a long period.

While most of his peers maintained a particular style for a long time, making their audience somehow used to it, Page never ceased to surprise the audience with his studio recordings and live performances.Playing the guitar with a cello bow is extraordinary, in my view. Very few guitarists, even in the 21st Century, can barely match the skills that Page displayed in the 1960s or 1970s. As a result, I consider Jimmy Page to be the greatest living guitar legend.

Compared to other renowned guitarists in rock music such as Clapton, Page proved to be the most versatile of them all. For instance, while Clapton may be hailed for his outstanding tone and dynamics during solos, he was less creative and versatile compared to Page. Compared to the works of Page, Clapton’s works lack the unique surprise induced through innovation. By watching recordings of the live performances featuring the two guitarists, one can attest to my claims considering the reactions of the audience. As a lead guitarist, Page’s performances were by far more thrilling and unpredictable to the audience.

Conclusion

Jimmy Page stands out as the most versatile and creative rock music guitarist alive. His creativity and innovation, both in-studio recordings and live performances, making him an icon. While as a session musician and also while he was with the Yardbirds and then Led Zeppelin, Jimmy page proved himself as an extraordinary guitarist. His ability to shine with different guitars, including the Fender Telecaster, the Danelectro 302, among others, makes him a guitar legend. Besides, his experimentation with amplification and effects both during studio recording and live performances makes him stand out as a rock music genius.

References

Case, G. (2007). Jimmy Page: Magus, Musician, Man: An Unauthorized Biography (1st ed.). New York: Hal Leonard. Web.

Gulla, B. (2009). Guitar Gods: The 25 Players Who Made Rock History. Westport: Greenwood Press. Web.

Hoskyns, B. (2006). Led Zeppelin IV: Rock of Ages. New York City: Rodale. Web.

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