This is Jimmy’s interview by Nick Kent in 1976. You would learn only a little about him around these days. I can’t put the link. Perhaps we might pay for that site now.
Jimmy Page: Shy Rock Star Almost Unburdens Himself By Nick Kent
(Originally Published: 04/01/1977, Creem)
I've known Led Zeppelin professionally for probably 4 years now, starting back in the winter of 1972 when I was sent out on the road with them only to find myself ending up in a fairly ludicrous but nonetheless highly tense argument with Jimmy Page in the dressing-room on the very first night.
I immediately took a dislike to the band personally, but found myself so blown apart by their live gigs of that time, that whatever vitriol I might have harbored from such unfortunate encounters was dissipated into instant "rave-review" time when it came to actually putting pen to paper. The resulting piece was, in retrospect, a quite horrendous piece of well-meaning gush, the memory of which I'd prefer buried for an eternity but anyway...
For some unknown reason, thereafter I became accepted by the band and co., and recall one night, maybe six months later, running into Page by chance and spending a most enjoyable evening ensconsed in informal chitchat with the gent.
From then on, I seemed to run into the guitarist and other members of his band regularly and always found them to be thoroughly pleasant human beings, particularly Peter Grant and Page, who both seemed to me the very paradox of the images that had been served up by certain factions of the press, i.e. Grant, the fearsomely uncouth semi-gangster type, and Page, the hedonistically depraved Crowley fanatic, scourge of the groupies and all-purpose heavy-duty evil presence.
The main aspect of Page the interview subject that has always become apparent to me as soon as the trusty cassette is turned on, has been the man's overriding reticence, his distinct fear of actually being probed for copy, his at times desperate concern for privacy at-all-costs in regard to topics that seem so totally innocent and lightweight to the on-looker.
I've been slotted in at the end of what appears to have been a day of fairly gruelling gang-bang interview scheduling. As the photographer and I enter the Swan Song offices, a Japanese journalist is being shown out, and an American writer is about to be led up for his shot, while the guy from the London Evening Standard is still waiting his half-an-hour's worth. After an hour we're led up to the interview room to encounter a Page obviously torn and frayed by the day's verbal duties. He's been left rather unsettled by the last caller.
Well, nothing much has changed in that respect -- if anything Page has become even more reticent, constantly checking himself in the middle of what seems the most mild utterance, to work out whether what he is saying could jeopardize some aspect of the band's communal year-away-as-working-tax-exiles. A single question, for example, referring to the number of times the four band members have come together for whatever reason in the past year, takes Page a good seven minutes of checking and counter-checking before the answer can be given satisfactorily.
"I just don't trust those sort of writers. You never know what they're after. It's useless trying to explain Crowley and all those things to them..." His manner is wired-up, slightly uncomfortable to behold.
The first topic, of course, is The Song Remains The Same. It's a late Wednesday afternoon, and I've worked it out to strict 50-50 odds as to whether Page and the Swan Song reps will have got hold of the NME issue with my highly derogatory review of the film. No one has, in fact, so I'm safe in one respect. Still I decide to voice a number of my criticisms straight off.
I didn't really like it. I don't think it did you as a band, justice.
"How do you mean?" Page is coiled up, listening, nervy.
I think you undersold yourselves, I say, quickly attempting to counter the vagueness of the accusation, by zeroing in on the live album and voicing my dissatisfactions there. Before I can specify, Page leaps in.
"Ah, well that's just one of those unfortunate things, because if you start picking that apart... well first and foremost it's a soundtrack album and as such simply has to be available. As for an actual live album... well my idea, prior to Robert's accident which dictated virtually everything we've done since was to do a chronological affair with tracks dating back to 1970 with "Communication Breakdown," say, and going through the various incarnations right up to tracks we'll be doing on the next tour for Presence."
That would be great, I mutter. "It will be great," Page counters.
But to return to the film; Page is fairly defensive about it, concerning himself with those aspects that have to be taken into account to gain what he considers the fullest appreciation of the affair. "There's a lot of points to be weighed up. It's a musical, yes, but it's also a documentary. For example, the robbery ...you've got to take that into account... the fact, for example, that when we were onstage playing those gigs, half the band actually knew about it and half the band didn't know. So the playing isn't totally... Plus it was right at the end of a tour."
"You're saying we're underselling ourselves, O.K., well we weren't going to put anything about the robbery in, but then again it is relevant. It's all pretty honest, I think."
Further points worth taking into consideration concern the minimal amount of footage actually shot during the tour. Out of a fairly mammoth U.S. tour, only one date in Baltimore and two nights at Madison Square Garden were filmed. Backstage footage was coincidental with the concerts.
"Oh, forget about it as a film of the tour! As regards the gig, well it's not a terribly good night and it's not terribly bad. Certainly not a magic one but not... tragic."
The fantasy sequences were all filmed some three months after the tour itself had been finished in the late summer of '73. Bonham's scene seems to be Page's favorite, and when discussing the amount of thought that went behind the conceptualizing of each member's fantasy, Page is at least candid.
"Let's just say that when we weren't viewing the thing as a tax write-off (laughs), there was as much commitment and dedication involved as goes into anything we do."
"There's no point in us making excuses. The facts are there to be understood."
"I just see it... it's not a great film... just a reasonably honest statement of where we were at that particular time. That's all it can be, really."
"I mean, it's still very difficult to view even now, particularly with this build-up. I'd like to see it in a year's time, just to see how it stands up."
"Because it's extremely relevant to the band, because simply, for us, it sums up a certain era."
"In a nut-shell, the film sums up an era when the band finished its sets with 'Whole Lotta Love.' That doesn't mean anything now, does it? It's only the Top of the Pops signature tune, now, anyway (laughs)..."
On the tour following the '73 Song Remains The Same epic the band virtually dropped all reference to "Whole Lotta Love," except for the occasional few bars thrown in at encore-time. Instead the finale was given over to "Stairway to Heaven."
So things are looking healthy again for Zeppelin after what can only be described as a fairly disorientating year for the collective, as well as certain individuals within the group, it appears, Page being paramount amongst them.
Again there is great hesitancy regarding the subject's talking about the year's more intimate troubles. The past I2 months, though, have seen Page return to Charlotte, his old lady of longstanding and the mother of his daughter, Scarlet, and therefore a more domestically ordered existence.
"The troubles... well for a start, Charlotte's been very ill but that's something one doesn't need to go into, really, only that...if you've been with someone for a long time and they get ill, then you immediately have that responsibility ...I don't really need to say anymore."
Page seems a changed man from the days that seemed to reach their hiatus during the '74 tour of America. Then, the guitarist, at once unattached, was staying up for days and nights on end in some kind of mortal combat with the forces of Nature, pushing virtually everything to the limits and cultivating some potentially bad habits in the process.
According to Page, though, the pressures I witnessed him testing himself on back then were nothing to what went down during the recording of Presence in Munich.
"That was the ultimate test of that whole... lifestyle. I mean, that was 18 hours a day at a real intensity every day. You just plunge in and, I mean, you don't start thinking about three meals a day."
Presence, by the way, is Page's favorite Zeppelin album, "Or at least the one which, when I think back on the sessions, I consider the most fulfilling. I mean, but maybe that's a rather bad yardstick to use for what one's favorite album is. Every record had had its moments."
So what happened after Presence's completion?
"Well, as far as I was concerned, it was a case of sorting out a year's problems in... say, a month, and not finding the whole process as simple as that. I mean, suddenly I had time to look around and suddenly I became aware of certain people who'd been taking incredible advantage of me in the year I'd been away."
Page shies away from going into any great details but makes mention of a couple whom he let stay at his main home of residence and who, apparently, immediately "assumed the identity of me and Charlotte. That got very ugly."
And then there is the case of one Kenneth Anger.
Two days after Page had returned from Switzerland where he'd been producing a lavish total-percussion track dreamed up and executed by John Bonham (which Page reckons is a cert for inclusion on the next Zep album), he was faced with a copy of a British rock paper carrying possibly the most snide vitriolic attack in recent years to appear in a music periodical. Anger's beef was that Page hadn't finished the soundtrack to his movie, Lucifer Rising. Anger made all sorts of wild accusations, implying that Page was possibly having drug problems ("Page's affair with The White Lady"). amongst other things, which for starters is complete fabrication.
Page, in fact, almost brightens to the thought of putting his side of the Anger epic into print.
"I must start by saying that I've lost a hell of a lot of respect for him. I mean, the level of pure bitchiness he was working on...at one point he was writing silly little letters to everybody he thought I knew so that they would naturally bring it up in conversation when they saw me.
"This whole thing about 'Anger's Curse'; they were just these silly little letters. God it was all so pathetic. I mean, I've got to get my side across now because it's just gone too far. Hell, you know that I did the film music and you know when I did it, so you must have thought it odd when Anger came out against me like that, right?"
(Page in fact rented a rough cut of Lucifer Rising and showed it to an informal gathering, yours truly included, complete with his soundtrack, in L.A. early in I975.)
"Well, he's implying that he'd received nothing from me, which is totally untrue. I gave him everything in plenty of time, OK."
What Page also claims is that he helped Anger personally locate a screening/editing room in London and that Peter Grant was also interested in maybe investing something into the completion of the film, and offered him accommodation in London's chic Gloucester Place Mews.
"So OK, I'm a mug! Cos one day this whole thing just blew up. And that's all I knew about it. This bitchiness is just an extension of Anger's Hollywood Babylon."
Anger had apparently been angling for a further backer for the film, Page claims. "Now whether he thought in his mind that he was indebted to me somehow and that he felt he had to get me off his back I don't know. I mean I didn't start hassling. I just wanted to see the bloke finish the bloody film, I mean its whole history is so absurd, anyway. I just assumed that it was unfinished because he was such a perfectionist and he'd always end up going over his budgets. All I can say is: Anger's time was all that was needed to finish that film. Nothing else!"
Anger also made allegations that his belongings had been held -- impounded by Page and sundry cohorts.
"What a snide bastard. His stuff was just all over the place and I just got some roadies to get it all together for him. Christ, he even turned that one round against me.
"I mean, I had a lot of respect for him. As an occultist he was definitely in the vanguard. I just don't know what he's playing at. I'm totally bemused and really disgusted. It's truly pathetic. I mean, he is powerless -- totally. The only damage he can do is with his tongue."
Page has somehow relaxed now, the saga of Anger having been completed (and there are more details but enough is perhaps enough for now).
"So much of this year has been taken up with petty little time-consuming things. It's not been a static period so much as an unsatisfying one. There have been so many niggling little things to take care of -- things so petty readers would never believe Jimmy Page rock guitarist would need to involve himself with (laughs)."
A final shrug: "It's changing now though. I mean, playing live -- that whole stimulus -- has been missing, and Christ, when we did that first rehearsal it just clicked all over again. I just feel that I've cleaned out a load of problems and now I'm ready to get back in the fray, so to speak.
"Something epic is going to happen musically anyway. That's what I feel. This next tour... you'll see."
— Republished: 12/19/2008