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In this historic multi-part interview, Jimmy Page delves into Led Zeppelin's rich past-album by album.

By Brad Tolinski with Greg DiBenedetto

"Okay, I'm ready," says Jimmy Page, clapping his hands together with a loud smack. "What are we going to talk about this time? Zeppelin? Again? Oh, gawd, didn't we already do this?" he whines, rolling his black eyes skyward. "I'm getting a severe case of déjà vu. Well, all right. Get out your surgeon's masks and thumb screws. I'm ready for dissection."

In the past, a little of Pagey's sarcasm would have sent the most hardened music journalist scurrying over the hills and far away. But it is clear from his mock outrage that the god of guitar thunder is not really throwing lightning bolts-he is merely teasing. Despite his protest, one gets the feeling that there is nothing in the world that he would rather discuss than his groundbreaking work with rock's most mythic outfit, Led Zeppelin.

And there is much to talk about. Page is here to stake his claim as one of rock's most interesting and innovative producers-the prime architect of Led Zeppelin.

And it's about time. Although no one would ever argue his status as guitar genius, few ever mention Page's brilliant work in the recording studio as a producer, arranger and engineer. Unlike the Beatles and the Stones, Led Zeppelin never relied on the outside guidance of a George Martin or Jimmy Miller. Instead, they followed the direction of their intrepid bandleader/guitarist as he ruthlessly steered the band through one successful experiment after another. Each song in Led Zeppelin's catalog packs the wallop of a full-blown, three-dimensional, four-star rock and roll movie, from intense X-rated features like the orgasmic "Whole Lotta Love" to Disney-esque fantasies like the whimsical "The Song Remains" to exotic 70 mm epics like "Kashmir" and "Stairway To Heaven." No one in rock before or since has equalled Page's flair for the dramatic. He made John Bonham's drums sound like volcanic eruptions and Robert Plant's vocals reverberate as if they were sung from the top of Mount Olympus. But above all, Page was able to manipulate the sound of his own guitar so that it changed colors and hues like some blues-rock chameleon. From the tortured scream of "Since I've Been Loving You" to the mysterious and mellow acoustic ambiance of "Black Mountain Side," Zep's dark lord of the Les Paul covered all the bases with uncanny style. Page claims that the mighty Zeppelin was designed so its music would have "shadow and light." Screw that-Zeppelin lived in nothing less than technicolor.

U.S. RELEASE: January 12, 1969
RECORDED AT: Olympic Studios (London)
GUITARS: 1958 Telecaster, 10-string Fender 800 pedal steel AMPS: Supro

GW: Let's start from the beginning. What did you want Led Zeppelin to be?

PAGE: I had a lot of ideas from my days with the Yardbirds. The Yardbirds allowed me to improvise a lot in live performance and I started building a textbook of ideas that I eventually used in Zeppelin. In addition to those ideas, I wanted to add acoustic textures. Ultimately, I wanted Zeppelin to be a marriage of blues, hard rock and acoustic music topped with heavy choruses-a combination that had never been done before. Lots of light and shade in the music. A prime example of that is "Babe, I'm Gonna Leave You."

GW: How did "Babe" evolve?

PAGE: This is a good time to clear something up that I've really taken offense to. There's a book written by our former road manager, Richard Cole [Stairway To Heaven, HarperCollins Publishers], that claims that when Robert came to my house to initially discuss the band, I played him a recording of Joan Baez singing "Babe" and asked him, "Can you imagine us playing something like this?" The book claims that Robert picked up my guitar and started playing me the arrangement that eventually appeared on the album. Arrrghhh! Can you believe that? First of all, I had worked out the arrangement long before Robert came to my house, and secondly, Robert didn't even play the flippin' guitar in those days! Thirdly, I didn't ask him if he could imagine playing that song, I told him that I wanted to do it.

GW: In addition to having such a strong direction musically, you also had a unique approach to the business aspect of the band in the beginning. By self-producing the first album and tour, weren't you attempting to keep record company interference to a minimum and maximize the band's artistic control?

PAGE: That's true. I wanted artistic control in a vise grip, because I knew exactly what I wanted to do with these fellows. In fact, I financed and completely recorded the first album before going to Atlantic. It wasn't your typical story where you get an advance to make an album-we arrived at Atlantic with tapes in hand. The other advantage to having such a clear vision of what I wanted the band to be was that it kept recording costs to a minimum. We recorded the whole first album in a matter of 30 hours. That's the truth. I know because I paid the bill. [laughs] But it wasn't all that difficult because we were well-rehearsed, having just finished a tour of Scandinavia, and I knew exactly what I wanted to do in every respect.

GW: The stereo mixes on the first two albums are incredible and very innovative. Was this planned ahead of time as well?

PAGE: I wouldn't go that far. But, certainly, after the overdubs were completed I had an idea of the stereo picture and where the echo returns would be. For example, on "How Many More Times," you'll notice there are times where the guitar is on one side and the echo return is on the other. Those things were my ideas. I would say the only real problem we had with the first album was leakage from the vocals. Robert's voice was extremely powerful and it would get on some of the other tracks. But oddly, the leakage sounds intentional. I was very good at salvaging things that went wrong. For example, the rhythm track in the beginning of "Celebration Day" [Led Zeppelin III] was completely wiped by an engineer. And that is why you have that synthesizer drone from the end of "Friends" going into "Celebration Day," until the rhythm track catches up. We put that on to compensate for the missing drum track. That's called "salvaging." [laughs]

GW: What do you remember about "Good Times Bad Times"?

PAGE: The most stunning thing about that track, of course, is Bonzo's amazing kick drum. It's superhuman when you realize he was not playing with a double kick. That's one kick drum! That's when people started understanding what he was all about.

GW: What did you use to overdrive the Leslie on the solo?

PAGE: [thinks hard] You know, I don't remember what I used on "Good Times Bad Times," but curiously, I do remember using the board to overdrive a Leslie cabinet for the main riff in "How Many More Times." It doesn't sound like a Leslie because I wasn't employing the rotating speakers. Surprisingly, that sound has real weight. The guitar is going through the board, then through an amp which was driving the Leslie cabinet. It was a very successful experiment. But for most of the record I was using a Supro amp, a wah-wah and a distortion unit called a Tonebender, which was one of Roger Mayer's creations. [Ed. Note-In the late Sixties, Mayer created custom effects for Page, Jimi Hendrix and Jeff Beck, among others.]

GW: How did you develop the backwards echo at the end of "You Shook Me"?

PAGE: When I was still in the Yardbirds, our producer Mickie Most would always try to get us to record all these horrible songs. He would say, "Oh, c'mon, just try it. If the song is bad we won't release it." And, of course, it would always get released! [laughs] During one session, we were recording "Ten Little Indians," which was an extremely silly song that featured a truly awful brass arrangement. In fact the whole track sounded terrible. In a desperate attempt to salvage it, I hit upon an idea. I said, "Look, turn the tape over and employ the echo for the brass on a spare track. Then turn it back over and we'll get the echo preceding the signal." The result was very interesting-it made the track sound like it was going backwards. Later, when we recorded "You Shook Me," I told the engineer, Glyn Johns, that I wanted to use backwards echo on the end. He said, "Jimmy, it can't be done." I said, "Yes, it can. I've already done it." Then he began arguing, so I said, "Look, I'm the producer. I'm going to tell you what to do, and just do it." So he grudgingly did everything I told him to, and lo and behold, the effect worked perfectly. When Glyn heard the result, he looked bloody ill! The funny thing is, Glyn did the next Stones album and what was on it? Backwards echo ! And I'm sure he took full credit for the effect.

GW: When people talk about early Zeppelin, they tend to focus on the band's heavier aspects. But your secret weapon was your ability to write great hooks. "Good Times Bad Times" has a classic pop hook. Did playing sessions in your pre-Yardbird days hone your ability to write memorable parts?

PAGE: My session work was invaluable. At one point I was playing at least three sessions a day, six days a week! And I rarely ever knew in advance what I was going to be playing. But I learned things even on my worst sessions-and believe me, I played on some horrendous things. I finally called it quits after I started getting calls to do Muzak. I guess it was destiny that a week after I quit doing sessions Paul Samwell-Smith left the Yardbirds, and I was able to take his place. But being a session musician was good fun in the beginning-the studio discipline was great. They'd just count the song off, and you couldn't make any mistakes.

GW: Did your blues purist friends ever rag on you for playing jingles?

PAGE: I never told them what I was doing. I've got a lot of skeletons in my closet, I'll tell ya! [laughs]

GW: Were you ever a blues purist like Eric Clapton?

PAGE: The blues appealed to me, but so did rock. The early rockabilly guitarists like Cliff Gallup and Scotty Moore were just as important to me as the blues guitarists.

GW: How did "How Many More Times" evolved?

PAGE: That has the kitchen sink on it, doesn't it? It was made up of little pieces I developed when I was with the Yardbirds, as were other numbers such as "Dazed And Confused." It was played live in the studio with cues and nods.

GW: You used the bow on that track.

PAGE: I think I did some good things with the bow there, but I really got much better with it later on. For example, I think there is some really serious bow playing on the live album [The Song Remains The Same]. I remember being really surprised with it when I heard it play back. I thought, "Boy, that really was an innovation that meant something."

GW: Your bow playing, especially on "Dazed And Confused," is really enhanced by echo. What did you use?

PAGE: It was actually reverb. We used those old EMT plate reverbs.

GW: That's a little surprising, because there are some areas on the record that sound like you're using tape echo. In fact, Led Zeppelin I was the first album that I can think of that employed such long echoes and delays.

PAGE: It's a little difficult to remember, and I can't tell you on exactly which tracks, but there was a lot of EMT plate reverb put on to tape and then delayed-machine delayed. You were only given so much time on those old spring reverbs.

GW: How did Atlantic react when you delivered the tape?

PAGE: They were very positive-I mean they signed us, didn't they? And by the time they got the second album, they were ecstatic.

Jimmy Page gets up close and personal about Led Zeppelin's recorded legacy in the second installment of GW Online's exclusive interview.

By Brad Tolinski with Greg DiBenedetto

In the first part of GW Online's historic interview with Jimmy Page, the mythical Led Zeppelin axemaster talked about his little-known second identity--as Zep's brilliant, innovative boardsman. In his role as producer, Page was as much responsible for his band's boundary-shattering sound as George Martin was for the Beatles'.In part two of the interview, Page continues his album-by-album dissection of Zeppelin's history, starting with Led Zeppelin II.

U.S. RELEASE: October 22, 1969
RECORDED AT: Olympic Studios (London), A&R; Studios (New York), Juggy Sound Studios (N.Y.), Mayfair Studios (N.Y.), Mystic Studios (LA.), Mirror Sound (L A.), and "a hut in Vancouver, British Columbia."
GUITARS: 1959 Les Paul, Vox 12-string AMPS: 100-watt Marshall, Vox solid-state

GW: Led Zeppelin I and II are extraordinarily three-dimensional. What role did your engineers play?

PAGE: Glyn Johns was the engineer on the first album, and he had a bit of an attitude problem. He tried to hustle in on a producer's credit, but I said, "No way. I put this band together, I brought them in and directed the whole recording process, I got my own guitar sound--I'll tell you, you haven't got a hope in hell." And then we went to Eddie Kramer for the second album and Andy Johns after that. I consciously kept changing engineers because I didn't want people to think that they were responsible for our sound. I wanted people to know it was me.

GW: Did Eddie Kramer have an impact on Led Zep II?

PAGE: Yes, I would say he did, but don't ask me what. [laughs] It's so hard to remember. Wait, here's a good example. I told him exactly what I wanted to achieve in the middle of "Whole Lotta Love," and he absolutely helped me to get it. We already had a lot of the sounds on tape, including a theremin and slide with backwards echo, but his knowledge of low-frequency oscillation helped complete the effect. If he hadn't known how to do that, I would have had to try for something else. So, in that sense, he was very helpful. Eddie was always very, very good. I got along well with him, and I must say, when I went through all the old recordings for the boxed sets, all of his work held up very, very well. Excellent!

GW: What do you think your biggest accomplishment as a producer/engineer was?

PAGE: The one major thing I contributed was miking drums in an ambient way--nobody was doing that. When I was playing sessions, I noticed that the engineers would always place the bass drum mic right next to the head. The drummers would then play like crazy, but it would always sound like they were playing on cardboard boxes. I discovered that if you move the mic away from the drums the sound would have room to breathe, hence a bigger drum sound. I kept exploring and expanding that approach, to the point that we were actually placing mics in hallways, which is how we got the sound on "When The Levee Breaks" [Led Zeppelin IV]. That was purely in the search for ambiance and getting the best out of the drums. So, it was always better for me to find an engineer who knew exactly what I was talking about. After a while I didn't have to argue because they knew that I knew what I was talking about.

GW: The first album was slammed by Rolling Stone magazine, which was very influential at the time. Did that affect your approach on the second album?

PAGE: Not at all. We knew what we had, and we kept improving all the time. Also, we were playing all the music live and people were responding to what we were doing. That's the ultimate test. It didn't really start bothering me until after the third album. After all we had accomplished the press was still calling us "a hype." So that's why the fourth album was untitled. It was a meaningless protest really, but we wanted to prove that people weren't buying us for the name.

GW: When you were borrowing from classic blues songs on the first two albums, did you ever think it would catch up to you?

PAGE: You mean getting sued?
[Ed Note: A belated plagiarism accusation was filed by Willie Dixon in 1987, who claimed similarities between his "You Need Love" and Zeppelin's "Whole Lotta Love." The case was settled out of court.]
Well, as far as my end of it goes, I always tried to bring something fresh to anything that I used. I always made sure to come up with some variation. In fact, I think in most cases you would never know what the original source could be. Maybe not in every case--but in most cases. So most of the comparisons rest on the lyrics. And Robert was supposed to change the lyrics, and he didn't always do that--which is what brought on most of our grief.

They couldn't get us on the guitar parts or the music, but they nailed us on the lyrics. We did, however, take some liberties, I must say. [laughs] But never mind; we did pay! Curiously enough, the one time we did try to do the right thing, it blew up in our faces. When we were up at Headley Grange recording Physical Graffiti, Ian Stewart [the Rolling Stones' unofficial keyboard player] came by and we started to jam. The jam turned into "Boogie With Stu," which was obviously a variation on "Ooh My Head" by the late Ritchie Valens, which itself was actually a variation of Little Richard's "Ooh My Soul." What we tried to do was give Ritchie's mother credit, because we heard she never received any royalties form any of her son's hits, and Robert did lean on that lyric a bit.

So what happens? They tried to sue us for all of the song! We had to say bugger off. [laughs] But seriously, blues men borrowed from each other constantly, and it's the same with jazz; it's even happened to us. As a musician, I'm only the product of my influences. The fact that I listened to so many various styles of music has a lot to do with the way I play. Which I think set me apart from so many other guitarists of that time--that fact that I was listening to folk, classical and Indian music in addition to the blues and rock.

GW: You've often spoken about your folk and rockabilly influences in the past, but what were some of your favorite blues records and guitarists?

PAGE: I had lots of favorites. Otis Rush was important--"So Many Roads" sent shivers up my spine. There were a number of albums that everybody got tuned into in the early days. There was one in particular called, I think, American Folk Festival Of The Blues, which featured Buddy Guy--he just astounded everybody. Then, of course, there was B.B. King's Live At The Regal. The first time I heard any of these people--Freddie King, Elmore James--it just knocked one flat. Now that I've said all of that, I'm missing one important person--Hubert Sumlin. I loved Hubert Sumlin. And what a complement he was to Howlin' Wolf's voice. He always played the right thing at the right time. Perfect. [Ed. Note: Howlin' Wolf's "Killing Floor" and "How Many More Years" were sources of inspiration for Zep's "Lemon Song" and "How Many More Times," respectively.]

GW: What was the impetus for the unaccompanied solo in the middle of "Heartbreaker"?

PAGE: I just fancied doing it. I was always trying to do something different, or something that no else had thought of. But the interesting thing about that solo is that it was recorded after we had already finished "Heartbreaker"--it was an afterthought. That whole section was recorded in a different studio and was sort of slotted in the middle. If you notice, the whole sound of the guitar is different.

GW: I've actually noticed that the tuning of the guitar was slightly higher.

PAGE: The pitch is off as well? I didn't know that! [laughs]

GW: Was that solo composed?

PAGE: No, it was made up on the spot. I think that was one of the first things I played through a Marshall. "Bring It On Home" was played through a Marshall as well.

GW: What led you to use Marshall amps?

PAGE: At that time it was state-of-the-art reliability. They were really good for going out on the road. I was always having trouble with amps--fuses blowing or whatnot. By that time I was using a Les Paul anyway, and that was just a classic setup.

U.S. RELEASE: October 5, 1970
RECORDED AT: Rolling Stones mobile studio (Headley Grange, Hampshire), Island Studios (London), Olympic Studios
GUITARS: Harmony acoustic, Martin acoustic, '59 Les Paul
AMP: 100-watt Marshall

GW: Led Zeppelin III is famous for its acoustic instrumentation, but it is also notable for broadening the band's sonic palette: the East Indian scales on "Friends," American country music on "Tangerine," traditional English folk on "Gallow's Pole," and so on. Did that eclecticism reflect what you were listening to on the road?

PAGE: No. As I was saying earlier, I used to listen to a broad variety of music, and I suppose that's how it came out.

GW: Had you reached a dead end with the blues-based material found on the first two albums?

PAGE: No. We always had some blues on our albums. Playing the blues is actually the most challenging thing you can do. It's very hard to play something original. "Since I've Been Loving You" is a prime example. That was the only song on the third album that we had played live prior to our sessions, yet it was the hardest to record. We had several tries at that one. The final version is a "live" take with John Paul Jones playing organ and foot bass pedals at the same time.

GW: I wouldn't even call "Since I've Been Loving You" a typical blues.

PAGE: Well, it all depends on how you define "the blues." Everybody immediately locks into 12 bars, but I don't think it has to have 12 bars to have that emotive quality. The blues can be anything.

GW: How did John Bonham influence the band?

PAGE: Besides being one of the best drummers I've ever heard, he was also one of the loudest. He was the reason we had to start buying bigger amps. When we recorded "Levee Breaks," we just used a pair of stereo mics in a hallway at Headley Grange. We could've used a separate microphone to mic the bass drum but we didn't need to--his kick sound was that powerful. And his playing wasn't in his arms, it was all in his wrist action. Frightening! I still don't know how he managed to get so much level out of a kit. And up until the last album, he always used both skins on his bass drum.

GW: How did the Indian influences come into the band?

PAGE: I went to India after I came back from a tour with the Yardbirds. I couldn't convince anyone else to come with me; they all wanted to go to San Francisco. I had been listening to that music for quite a while and wanted to hear it first-hand.

GW: So the Indian music was your influence?

PAGE: Let's put it this way: I had a sitar before George Harrison. I wouldn't say I played it as well as he did, though. I think George used it well. "Within You Without You" is extremely tasteful. He spent a lot of time studying with Ravi Shankar, and it showed. I actually went to see a Ravi Shankar concert one time, and to show you how far back this was, there were no young people in the audience at all--just a lot of older people from the Indian embassy. This girl I knew was friend of his and she took me to see him. After the concert, she introduced him to me and I explained that I had a sitar, but didn't know how to tune it. He was very nice to me and wrote down the tunings on a piece of paper.

The third installment of our historic Jimmy Page interview: from Led Zeppelin IV through "In Through the Out Door"

By Brad Tolinski with Greg DiBenedetto

U.S. RELEASE: November 8, 1971
RECORDED AT: Island Studios (London), Rolling Stones mobile unit (Headley Grange), Sunset Sound (L.A.), Olympic Studios (London)
GUITARS: Fender electric 12-string, Les Paul, Telecaster
AMP: 100-watt Marshall

GW: Instead of talking about the music on IV, which has been dissected in detail in at least two issues of "Guitar World" [Jan. '91 and Nov. '91] we thought we'd discuss album jacket art with you.

PAGE: Robert and I came up with the design of IV together. Robert had actually bought the print that is on the cover from a junk shop in Reading. We then came up with the idea of having the picture--the man with the sticks--represent the old way on a demolished building, with the new way coming up behind it. The illustration on the inside was my idea. It is the Hermit character from the Tarot, a symbol of self-reliance and wisdom, and it was drawn by Barrington Colby. The typeface for the lyrics to "Stairway To Heaven" was also my contribution. I found it in a really old arts and crafts magazine called Studio, which started in the late 1800's. I thought the lettering was so interesting I got someone to work up a whole alphabet.

GW: What do you think of the artwork on Led Zeppelin III?

PAGE: A disappointment. I'll take responsibility for that one. I knew the artist and described what we wanted with this wheel that made things appear and change. But he got very personal with this artwork and disappeared off with it. We kept saying, "Can we take a look at it? Can we see where it's going?" Finally, the album was actually finished and we still didn't have the art. It got to the point where I had to say, "Look, I've got to have this thing." I wasn't happy with the final result--I thought it looked teeny-bopperish. But we were on top of a deadline, so of course there was no way to make any radical changes to it. There are some silly bits--little chunks of corn and nonsense like that. But it is no worse than my first meeting with an artist from Hipgnosis, who were the people that designed Pink Floyd's covers. We had commissioned them to design "Houses Of The Holy," and this guy Storm came in carrying this picture of an electric green tennis court with a tennis racquet on it. I said, "What the hell does that have to do with anything?" And he said, "Racket-- don't you get it?" I said, "Are you trying to imply that our music is a 'racket' ? Get out!" We never saw him again. We ended up dealing with one of the other artists. [laughs] That was a total insult--racket. He had some balls! Imagine. On a first meeting with a client!

GW: One music-oriented question before we move on to "Houses Of The Holy": Tell me how you got that sound on "Black Dog."

PAGE: We put my Les Paul through a direct box, and from there into a mic channel. We used the mic amp of the mixing board to get distortion. Then we ran it through two Urie 1176 Universal compressors in series. Then each line was triple-tracked. Curiously, I was listening to that track when we were reviewing the tapes and the guitars almost sound like an analog synthesizer.

U.S. RELEASE: March 28, 1973
RECORDED AT: Rolling Stones mobile unit (Stargroves), Olympic Studios (London), Electric Lady (New York)
GUITARS: Les Paul, Fender 12-string electric, Stratocaster
AMP: 100-watt Marshall

GW: Did you feel any pressure to live up to the standards set by the fourth album and "Stairway To Heaven"?

PAGE: Of course, but we didn't let it get in the way. My main goal was to just keep rolling. It's very dangerous to try and duplicate yourself. I won't name any names, but I'm sure you've heard bands that endlessly repeat themselves. After four or five albums they just burn up. With us, you never knew what was coming.

GW: What was the origin of "The Song Remains The Same"?

PAGE: It was originally going to be an instrumental--an overture that led into the "The Rain Song." But I guess Robert had different ideas. You know, "This is pretty good. Better get some lyrics--quick!" [laughs]

GW: How did it come together?

PAGE: I had all the beginning material together, and Robert suggested that we break down into half-time in the middle. After we figured out that we were going to break it down, the song came together in a day.

GW: Did you keep a notebook or cassette tape of ideas?

PAGE: I always did that. And then I'd patch them together later. I always had a cassette recorder around. That's how both "The Song Remains The Same" and "Stairway" came together--from bits of taped ideas.

GW: What guitar did you use on "Song"? Was it the Gibson doubleneck?

PAGE: No, I used a Fender 12-string in the studio. And before the Fender, I used a Vox 12-string. You can hear the Vox on things like "Thank You" and "Living Loving Maid" on the second album.

GW: "Houses" is so bright-sounding. Did you vari-speed the tape up a notch to get everything to sparkle more?

PAGE: No, the only song I can think of that we vari-speeded up were a couple of overdubs on "Achilles Last Stand" ["Presence"]. However, I applied the vari-speed to the overall track of "No Quarter." I dropped the whole song a quarter-tone because it made the track sound so much thicker and more intense.

U.S. RELEASE: February 24, 1975
RECORDED AT: Ronnie Lane's Mobile Studio (Headley Grange), Olympic Studios (London)
GUITARS: Les Paul, Danelectro, Stratocaster
AmMPS: 100-watt Marshall

GW: If "Houses Of The Holy" was one of your tightest productions, then "Physical Graffiti" is one of your loosest. Did you make a conscious decision to retreat from a highly polished sound?

PAGE: Yes, but not completely. "In My Time Of Dying" is a good example of something more immediate. It was just being put together when we recorded it. It's jammed at the end and we don't even have a proper way to stop the thing. But I just thought it was so good. I liked it because we really sounded like a working group. We could've tightened it up, but I enjoyed its edge. On the other hand, "Kashmir," "In The Light" and "Ten Years Gone" are all very ambitious.

GW: The recording, though, doesn't seem as punchy as some of your previous efforts.

PAGE: It doesn't? Maybe. I look at it as a document of a band in a working environment. People might say it's sloppy, but I think this album is really honest. Physical is a more personal album, and I think it allowed the listener to enter our world. You know, "Here's the door. I'm in."

GW: Did you ever force a song, or did you discard ideas that didn't automatically click?

PAGE: We forced things on occasion. Actually, "Levee" is a good example. We tried "Levee" in just an ordinary studio and it sounded really labored. But once we got Bonzo's kit set up in the hall in Headley Grange and heard the result, I said, "Hold on! Let's try this one again!" And it worked. But we were never a band to try 90 takes. If the vibe wasn't there, we tended to drop it.

GW: You and Plant were travelling to places like Morocco and the Sahara Desert around this time, and you can really hear that influence in songs like "Kashmir." Whose idea was it to explore Morocco?

PAGE: I did a joint interview with [Beat novelist] William Burroughs for Crawdaddy magazine in the early Seventies [Ed. Note: The interview was reprinted in the now out of-print July '86 issue of "Guitar World"], and we had a lengthy discussion on the hypnotic power of rock and how it paralleled the music of Arabic cultures. This was an observation Burroughs had after hearing "Black Mountain Side," from our first album. He then encouraged me to go to Morocco and investigate the music firsthand, something Robert and I eventually did.

U.S. RELEASE: March 31, 1976
RECORDED AT: Musicland Studios (Munich)
AMPS: 100-watt Marshall

GW: You've said in the past that "Presence" is one of your favorite albums. Why?

PAGE: I guess it was because we made it under almost impossible circumstances. [Ed. Note: The album was made in just 18 days, soon after Robert Plant had been in a serious car accident.] Robert had a cast on his leg and no one knew whether he would walk again. It was hairy!

GW: So you remember it fondly because it was a triumph over adversity.

PAGE: That's exactly it. It was a reflection of the height of our emotions of the time. There are no acoustic songs, no keyboards, no mellowness. We were also under incredible deadline pressure to finish the record. I was working an average of 18 to 20 hours a day. It was also grueling because nobody else really came up with song ideas. It was really up to me to come up with all the riffs, which is probably why Presence is so guitar-heavy. But I don't blame anybody. We were all kind of down. We had just finished a tour, we were non-resident and Robert was in a cast so I think everybody was a little homesick. Our attitude was summed up in the lyrics on "Tea For One."

GW: What's your strongest memory of that time?

PAGE: Fighting the deadline. We only had three weeks to work because the Rolling Stones had time booked after us. So after the band finished recording all its parts, me and the engineer, Keith Harwood, just started mixing until we would fall asleep. Then whoever would wake up first would call the other and we'd go back in and continue to work until we passed out again.

GW: Didn't you have the power at that time to demand more time from the record company to finish the album?

PAGE: Of course, but I didn't want to. I didn't want the record to drag on. Under the circumstances I felt that if it had dragged on, a negative, destructive element might have entered the picture. The urgency helped us to create an interesting album.

U.S. RELEASE: August 15, 1979
RECORDED AT: Polar Studio (Stockholm)
GUITARS: Les Paul, Stratocaster, Telecaster
AMPS: 100-watt Marshall

GW: That record seems to be dominated by John Paul Jones; at least his contribution seems to be more significant than on other albums. Did you feel that it might be more interesting for you to function as an accompanist rather than at center stage?

PAGE: See, you had a situation with "Presence" where Jonesy didn't contribute anything, and that was a strain. I mean, I would've preferred having some input at that point. But he'd bought a new synthesizer [Yamaha GX-I] and it inspired him to come up with a bunch of things for "In Through The Out Door." He also started working closely with Robert, which was something that hadn't happened before.

GW: I thought maybe you were losing your enthusiasm for the band.

PAGE: Never. Never. In fact, Bonzo and I had already started discussing plans for a hard-driving rock album after that. We both felt that "In Through The Out Door" was a little soft. I wasn't really very keen on "All Of My Love." I was a little worried about the chorus. I could just imagine people doing the wave and all of that. And I thought, "That's not us. That's not us." In its place it was fine, but I wouldn't have wanted to pursue that direction in the future.

GW: Led Zeppelin accomplished so much. Didn't you ever want a hit single?

PAGE: No. Not really. We just wanted to write really good music that would hold up on its own. Chart music tends to be a little disposable.

Photos taken from the photo book,


Declared by guitarist Jimmy Page as the finest collection of Led Zeppelin photographs ever to be compiled and published in a single volume. THE PHOTOGRAPHER"S LED ZEPPELIN is a 9" x 12" hard cover book in a slip case, and includes over 350 photos by 23 of the world's top photograhers. It retails for $100.00, and can be ordered from:

2.13.61 Publications
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Los Angeles, CA 90078

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