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"Out In The West Texas Town of El Paso" Sep 16 1988


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High Noon in El Paso, TX.

Contributor: "The Man With No Name"

Eleven years had passed since I first met Jimmy Page.

I was living in El Paso, Texas. The time was September, 1988. I'd always known that I had something in common with Page. I suppose that's why I felt so strongly about conversing with him. The fact that I had met him once and was able to share meaningful conversation had already satisfied my expectations.

I sense that all of you reading can relate to this desireto have a fireside chat with Jimmy. The most difficult part of coming face to face with him is feeling that one has something interesting and/or intriguing enough to capture his attention for more than a moment. Especially since I'm just another fan. What I'm about to say may be mis-construed as arrogant or self-aggrandizing ---never-the-less, I'll trust you'll understand with the same heart that I'm writing.

So here we are in El Paso, Texas, more than six hundred miles from the nearest major market. El Paso is situated in the middle of nowhere. So when I heard that Page would be in town my first thought was: "How can I hook up with him again?" But then I realized that I probably didn't have anything worth his interest.

In fact, I didn't even buy tickets to the concert. I figured first of all,it would be sold out. Secondly, I was now a husband and father of three children with one on the way and I didn't have a group of comarades who shared or understood, or even cared about the enigma that is Page. So I'd hear the radio commercials for the "Outrider" tour and would reminisce about that night back in '77, when I got to share a drink and acouple of hours with my hero. My wife didn't understand, my kids were too young to know, and all my friends had traded in their souls for suits. I wore a suit too, but I still cranked my amp loud in my garage.

The night before the concert I was home helping the wife with dinner when I received a phone call from a renegade soul who happened to be a drummer who owned the liquor store. He and I had a " bowling league " blues band... you know, some guys bowl, some guys golf, some guys coach softball teams. But we played the blues in an all-black ghetto bar just to prove to ourselves that we could still shake it down. In fact, we introduced Zep-style blues to the "over-forty" Superfly crowd. We did howling renditions of "You Shook Me", "The Lemon Song" and "I Can't Quit You Baby." So Andre, the drummer rings me up and says "Jimmy Page is drinking at the Westin Hotel bar."

Of course I don't believe him. He verifies by telling me that his wife and her co-worker called to say that Jimmy Page had hit on them. Andre told me "Why don't you go down there and you could probably talk to him?" I immediately changed out of my Ward Cleaver outfit and donned some of my old rock n roll regalia. All black. Lots of leather. I arrived at the Westin about 9:45 in the evening. Strolled up to the bar (I was very nervous, I might add) because you see, I was facing the same dilemma about not being a hot-looking chick or gay cavalier. My mind was blank and at one point I decided that even if I could just shake his hand that would be enough.

So there's Jimmy standing at the bar with an obvious beer belly protruding from his "Alabama State" tee shirt and talking to his band members. I moved within earshot of the group and waited for my moment. I had thought to bring along an old Sun recording of Johnny Cash's "I Walk the Line". And a few choice pieces of an ancient Native American pottery from my personal collection.

The moment arrived and I walked right up, handed him the gifts, mentioned our meeting of years ago and wished him well on the upcoming concert. I turned to walk away, but to my delight he asked me to stay and have a drink. Lots of musical small talk, then Jimmy invited everyone over to a table.

Small chat continued until Jason Bonham walked out of the adjoining disco and whispered something to Jimmy which made him laugh. He introduced Jason to me and Jason and I walked back to the disco bar. I queried him on the tour and various Zeppelin-related topics.

He was very open and candid about Jimmy and Robert's feud and he told me that Jimmy had practically begged Robert to rejoin. But he said Robert was very much against Jimmy's occult practices and that the last three years of Zeppelin were tragic and caused Robert to want to put much distance between himself and Jimmy on a personal level. Robert had cleaned up his act completely, but Jimmy had spent several months in rehab for heroin addiction. (Apparently Jimmy had been through rehab several times. Jason said Jimmy had nearly died the last time. He went down to 118 lbs. and was in a semi-coma for a month.) The main reason they were touring was to help Jimmy psychologically, he said.

I asked him "Why would they be playing in some town like El Paso?" and Jason said they were doing these minor markets to tighten up the band. He also talked briefly about his father. A positive musical conversation until. Jason became occupied with a cute girl, so I rejoined Jimmy and the band at the table.

By this time, I felt comfortable enough to just hang out. As I approached the table, JP was giving his attention to a buxom and voluptuous (I'm being polite here) woman. Should I give her a name? Perhaps not her real one --- she may not want the public acclaim. We'll call her 'Rosita'. So, I take an empty seat next to JP and commence small talk with the bass player and lead singer. The skinny is, these chaps were playing in a lounge band in Spain --- a Holiday Inn or something akin to that. Jimmy happens to be vacationing and catches their show, telling them he'd be in touch. They had figured he was a bit tipsy and polite, but never gave his comment much creedence. Three or four months later, he calls and hires them for the Outrider tour. The singer is British. The bass player is from Brazil or Argentina... I can't recall exactly.

I could relate to these guys because we were all in our mid to late 30's and had been playing music professionally since our teens. In my mind, I could have just as easily been in their coveted position. For a fleeting moment I wondered why fate hadn't brought Jimmy Page to one of my thousands of club gigs.... offering me the chance to tour with him. It fascinated me that these guys were so average, unknown and quite frankly, rather mediocre musicians, as I discovered the next night at the show.

I used to recall their names, but now that's not important. I'll tag them by their hair: Lead singer is "Blondie". Bass player is "Curly Black". Blondie inquired about places to jog and work out locally. Curly Black wanted to know the where-abouts of good vegetarian restaurants. JP finally let loose of 'Rosita' --- she went to the powder room. He turned to me and smiled that famous closed-lip grin and said "What's up, mate?"

By now, I had downed a few drinks and was settled in comfortably with the boys. I didn't feel like a star-struck fan imposing on a selective clique. I fit in with the guys as a local mate who shared the love of rock n roll. When I had first met Jimmy in '77, I was 25 and single and in awe of the legend. Now 36, married with children and masquerading as an advertising executive (although remaining on active duty as a weekend-warrior-musician who still did studio session work), I was no longer intimidated by the mystique of "The Rover". I point-blank asked Pagey if I could ask him everything I always wanted to know about his music. He smiled, waved his ciggie nonchalantly, sipped his marguerita and said "Yeah".

My first question was: Did he use a bow on the first section of the lead in "Over the Hills and Far Away"? The answer was "No". I won't get involved in this line of thought because only certain players would find it interesting. We went on for a good hour talking about music and the legends and myths of the old blues players who we both admired and emulated.

One of the most endearing aspects of JP's personna is his incognito wandering throughout the world. I love how he "drops in" on forsaken little pubs, taverns and road houses to explore and experience the salt-of-the-earth players who sweat out their musical lives in obscurity....as they continue to entertain the small-drinking audiences who take themmore-or-less for granted. Let's face it: most musicians are only respected if they "make it".

I forgot to mention that 'Ms. Rosita' had returned and seemed miffed that Pagey ignored her except to ask if she needed a drink or a smoke. He, of course, had "read" her and had gently but firmly made it clear that if she wanted to be the (how should I put this?) "sport f---k" of the night, she'd have to lay back and go with the flow. And right now the flow was philosophy and ancient culture.

We spoke deeply about Jung, Nietsche, Wagner, Crowley, Blavotsky, the Kabalah, William James, William Burroughs, Guirdjer, Alex the Great, Hitler and others.

By now the band mates had retired and Rosita had busied herself by making half-hour loops through the disco lounge. She would come back and plant a wet one on Jimmy and remind him that she was "ready" whenever he beckoned. He was so casual and confident that he would kiss her sweetly as if she were his girl and look her in the eye without saying a word --- as if to tell her he would let her know when her time would be. She would shoot me a thinly disguised glare as if she were competing with me for his attention (which she was).

But I merely regarded her as a "service maiden" with no patience.

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  • 5 years later...

Amazing that this guy got to meet him twice !

Where as i missed my chance to have my own "cigerettte butt" that jimmy was flicking over the side of the stage at the OUTRIDER show in DAYTON OH ~

BECAUSE EVERYONE BEAT ME TO THEM! lol, yea pathetic , but i still to this day wish id got one too!

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Amazing that this guy got to meet him twice ! Where as i missed my chance to have my own "cigerettte butt" that jimmy was flicking over the side of the stage at the OUTRIDER show in DAYTON OH ~ BECAUSE EVERYONE BEAT ME TO THEM! lol, yea pathetic , but i still to this day wish id got one too!


Friend of mine was front row for The Firm in '85 and experienced a rock n' roll epiphany when Jimmy's cigarette ashes landed on his forehead.

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