Led Zeppelin and Rolling Stone magazine have always had an uneasy relationship: although the band dominated the ’70s, they were only on the cover once during that decade. And Rolling Stone didn’t always give Zeppelin’s records favorable reviews. So, it was a surprise that the band’s leader Jimmy Page gave the magazine an eight-hour plus interview in the new issue, which features a vintage Page shot on the cover.
The interviewer, David Fricke, asked Page if he was “hurt” by early negative criticism towards the band; Page replies, “I was hoping you would ask that, writing for Rolling Stone.” But whatever his feelings about the magazine, he gave a very revealing interview. Here are five things we learned from it:
- Jason Bonham resigned from Foreigner in 2007, in hopes that the Led Zeppelin reunion would extend past one reunion show: Bonham had played drums for Foreigner since 2004. Page says, “Some of us thought we would be continuing, that there were going to be more concerts in the not-too-distant future… I know that Jason, who was playing with Foreigner, resigned from that band.” One reason the reunion was a one-off: Robert Plant had scheduled a tour with bluegrass singer Alison Krauss to promote their multiple Grammy winning collaboration, Raising Sand. Of course, you can experience the 2007 reunion via the Celebration Day CD/DVD.
- Page wants to release the tapes from his early ’80s sessions with members of Yes: After Zeppelin broke up, Page was working with bassist Chris Squire and drummer Alan White, both former members of Yes (who had broken up at around the same time). The band was to be called “XYZ” (as Page explains, “it was ex-Yes and ex-Zeppelin”). Plant was approached to be the singer, but Page notes, “Of course, he wasn’t interested at all.” Squire and White soon reunited with Yes, and XYZ was history. But fans have long wanted to hear what this band would have sounded like (although allegedly some of those sessions were used as starting points for songs by Page’s next project, The Firm, with Paul Rodgers). Page hopes to get the XYZ sessions out there: “I’ll tell you, the material was good. I have the multi-tracks. I hope they see the light of day.”
- He also may release the ultra-rare Live Yardbirds! LP, recorded in 1968:The album was released in 1971 and Page forced the label to withdraw it. “I’ve been going through my personal archives over the last few years. And I found the tapes… it would be good to put it out again.” He notes that it would need to be remixed.
- In his early days as a session musician, Page played on The Who‘s “I Can’t Explain,” but doesn’t know why he was invited to the session:“I don’t know, really, why I was brought in. I’m playing the riff, in the background — behind Pete Townshend. I didn’t need to be there. You can barely hear me. But it was magical to be in the control room.”
- John Paul Jones came up with some of Zeppelin’s mightiest riffs: When asked about “Black Dog,” Page says that that was Jones’ riff. “It was not easy to play.” Later in the interview, he mentions that Jones was behind the monster riff for “Good Times Bad Times” as well.
If the interview isn’t enough Jimmy Page for you, you’re in luck. A new book, Light And Shade: Conversations With Jimmy Page, compiles interviews that Page has done over the years with Guitar World editor Brad Tolinski.
Page, Plant and Jones will appear together Sunday night (December 2) at the Kennedy Center Honors event in Washington, DC. The show will air on CBS December 26, but CBS Local will have full coverage, and will live-tweet the event from the Radio.com account. The following night, the ex-Zeppelin bandmates appear on Late Show With David Letterman.
— Brian Ives, CBS Local