When Jimmy Page was a young student, he had already developed such an inseparable relationship with his guitar that school officials would often confiscate it.
“It would be given back at the end of the day. And this was quite repetitive,” Page said.
That dedication worked out pretty well for Page, who took Led Zeppelin to the zenith as one of the most powerful outfits in rock history.
Now some of the instruments that he used to create that Zeppelin sound are on display at an exhibition called “Play It Loud: Instruments of Rock & Roll” at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York.
Seven of Page’s guitars, a few costumes and some of his equipment have been loaned to the exhibit, alongside dozens of guitars, drums and memorabilia from such legends as Chuck Berry, Jerry Lee Lewis, Bo Diddley and John Lennon.
While visiting the exhibition, Page sat down with The Associated Press to discuss the band’s legacy, why its music has endured and prospects for another reunion concert.
AP: How frustrating are the Led Zeppelin reunion questions? You weren’t completely happy with Live Aid or the 40th anniversary concert for Atlantic Records in 1988. What about the 2007 concert in London?
Page: I’m rather pleased that we did it, because we sort of looked still similar to what we looked now, and, yeah, we did a really good job. But I don’t think there’s going to be another one.
AP: Let’s talk about your earliest recollection with the guitar.
Page: I was taking my guitar to school so that I could play at recess because I became so involved with it, we became inseparable. I had to do my academic studies, that was the deal I had with my dad. And the rest of the time I could play guitar. So, I took that one step further: I would take that to school and play at recess.
AP: Your guitar work for Led Zeppelin was far ahead of the curve…
Page: I’d like to think that it was, because the first album, I sort of knew, as we were doing the tracks, exactly how I was going to layer everything and the textures of them…. There’s a variety of moods on ‘Led Zeppelin I.’ So, again, it was me challenging and pushing as far as I possibly could, not even thinking of my limitations, just going beyond, beyond, beyond.
AP: What’s it like having your guitars in the Met?
Page: You approach the gallery through Greco-Roman statues, and then the first thing you see is Chuck Berry’s guitar. I said, ‘What? The original one, the blond one,’ and they said, ‘Yes.’ And I said, ‘What would you like? Tell me what you want to help this along and you can have whatever it is that you want.’
AP: You gave them your Sovereign Harmony acoustic guitar. How important is it?
Page: That guitar I had way back in the early ’60s. And it’s been with me all the way through, to the point where I used it as a writing tool… That particular guitar is the vehicle whereby the first album for Led Zeppelin is written, the second album is written, the third album is written, the fourth album is written and it’s the guitar that actually culminates with playing ‘Stairway to Heaven.’
AP: Why has the Led Zeppelin catalogue endured?
Page: It approaches so many different styles and moods and it’s very passionate. And it also very gentle. And it’s very hard. And it’s extremely dynamic. If anybody wants to be playing the guitar, the harmonica, the drums, the bass, the keyboards — well, it’s all there. And it’s organic music where everyone is playing together. I think it’s a great legacy to have produced, to be honest.