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Jimmy Page´s injured fingers in the 70ies


Jiri
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The 73 injury happened at Long Beach Municipal Airport. He strained a tendon in his palm climbing a chain link fence that separated him from some fans.

Long Beach Municipal Airport? Hmm, I don't think I've heard this before. The only open question then is if it happened the day of or the day before the gig. Thanks, Evster!

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Long Beach Municipal Airport? Hmm, I don't think I've heard this before. The only open question then is if it happened the day of or the day before the gig. Thanks, Evster!

You're welcome! I wish I could recall where I read that. It was years (hell, decades) ago. But I grew up in the Long Beach area, and it always stuck in my head: It happened HERE! Y'know how those things put a sticky in your head. Actually, I think it was in the Los Angeles Times. My dad was a physics prof at Long Beach University, which afforded me some priviledges for a kid on the campus, and I used to spend endless hours searching all things Zeppelin in the microfiche room in the University library.

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I was at all three Chicago shows in '75, Jan. 20, 21, and 22. That would have been just a week after the injury. I don't remember Jimmy being bad at all, it was Robert who struggled a bit the first night with the flu.

The review of that first show was actually pretty favorable too. I guess Jimmy using three fingers was better than most guys using four. :D

And the '75 injury was, as I recall, a mishap with a train door.

Edited by zep73
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'75 was a train door by all accounts, yep. The remaining question is, when did it happen? I've looked it up in a few of my books, and nearly all of them support what Steve has said, e.g. that it happened when he was coming to London for rehearsals, after Rotterdam and Brussels on January 11 and 12, and prior to the U.S. Tour. That's what you find in Ritchie Yorke's book, in Howard Mylett's 1976 book on the band, in Chris Welch's Led Zeppelin: The Book, etc. The reason why I'm thinking it happened earlier is some interesting information in Led Zeppelin: The Concert File. While I've never heard a bootleg recording from the Brussels show, and I don't think there is one for the gig in Rotterdam, this is what they have to say about those concerts.

First, the set list is missing for Rotterdam - but the show was shorter than two hours. That means no 'Dazed and Confused'. If you look at the set list for Brussels, you'll see that it wasn't performed there either. In fact, it wasn't put back into the set list until February 3, in MSG, NYC.

Secondly, Robert is quoted as saying that the Rotterdam gig wasn't good, but that he expects Brussels to be better and America to be good.

Thirdly, here is how Lewis and Pallett describe the Brussels gig: 'Under-rehearsed and experiencing problems with Page's damaged fingers, this show was rough, chaotic and less than two hours in length. A minimal show, with no space for improvisation - 'Dazed and Confused' and 'Moby Dick' were both absent from the set list.'

Here's a picture of Jimmy from Rotterdam - the file name says it's Brussels, but it isn't - and then a couple from Brussels:

Brussels75.jpg

JP_Vorst_National_Brussels_by_Claud.jpg

JP_Vorst_National_Brussels_by_Cl-1.jpg

Even if these two gigs obviously were warm-ups for America (they also didn't use the full lights rig), and even if, as Jimmy put it, '1974 never happened', this still makes me think the injury may have happened prior to Rotterdam.

The TV interview for Old Grey Whistle Test was conducted in Brussels on January 12, and aired five days later, on January 17 - by which time the band was already rehearsing in Minneapolis.... as we know from the many fabulous pictures Neal Preston took of them there. Jimmy certainly doesn't look like he's had a serious injury to his fingers just a few days earlier - although, of course, that isn't conclusive at all.

File0717.jpg

(I think Ev made that great scan from the old Led Zeppelin Portraits book).

The first date of the U. S. Tour was on January 18, in Bloomington, Minnesota. Here's Jimmy playing that night:

1975-01-18_Minneapolis_04_STH.jpg

Silver Vishnu: I haven't heard the February 8 gig, so couldn't have mentioned it... Bitch. :D

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As for the '73 incident - first of all: Hi Ev! Am I glad to see you back here, mate! :D

What you are saying about that injury is really interesting - and very convincing when you look at the pics where you can see the bandages, as they cover his hand, and not any of his fingers at all. It would be great if we could find out for sure, because as Steve says, it doesn't seem to have been very serious - but all the books, without exception, say that it was a sprained finger.

As for the stories about how it happened, I must say I found it disappointing that Robert Godwin doesn't include anything about either of these two incidents in his Press Reports book. But Lewis and Pallett do include this quote about the LA mishap in '73:

'How did Page sprain his finger? Incredible rumors about that were rampant around the Sunset Strip including that the boys were busy throwing beer bottles and finally a table - out of the windows of the ninth floor of the Continental Hyatt House Hotel [e.g. 'Riot House' - OM] into a Lincoln convertible in the parking lot - just for fun, you know. Page's finger got in the way and you know the rest. Led Zeppelin has stayed at the Continental several times before and their frolicking has resulted in repair expenses being tacked on the bill, but they are always contrite afterwards and seemingly are always welcome guests at this hostelry of the rock kingdom.'

The boys certainly had fun after the 'Bonzo's Birthday Party' gig on May 31. :rolleyes::lol: George Harrison and Patti thrown into the pool, and then everybody else except of course Bonzo (who did it) and Peter Grant.

Apart from finger injuries, it's also interesting to read Charles Shaar Murray's article about the May 31 and Kezar shows - printed in full in Howard Mylett's On Tour With Led Zeppelin (not the same book as the one I mentioned earlier by him). Murray's article is called 'Zeppin' Out', and he was very impressed. He is a guitarist himself, and a respected rock journalist (wrote a great book on Hendrix called Crosstown Traffic).

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Oh, and MSG, thanks, but while I have scanned literally hundreds of LZ photos, there's no need to give me credit for these photos - I was only reposting most of them. It's just that I'm a little more systematic than most about how I save my LZ photos, so I usually have photos relevant to the discussions. :D

And well.... I have about 12,000 pics of the band. :rolleyes:

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Hey Ev and Otto. Jimmy's broken finger in 1975 led to some real cool guitar solos at the Chicago shows on that tour. His phrasing on Trampled Underfoot and Communication Breakdown had a great feel to them. A little slower in pace but still very melodic. Bonham was kicking at those shows to compensate for Robert and Jimmy's frailties.

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Taken as a whole I know the '75 shows are considered to be good. I was wondering why they started the tour with a sick singer, an injured guitar player, and a new album still weeks away from actual release? Why didn't they just wait a few weeks to start the U.S. tour?

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Thx Otto for posting your pictures! :D

The last one (Jimmy with doubleneck) sort of proves my point!!! I think he´s playing STH (or something in A)

It´s his left hand position!

Jimmy´s avoiding to use his ring finger. Every run is played by index and middle finger with a little help from the little finger. Every guitar player knows that this is very uncommon and not comfortable (at this position of the fretboard).

In TSRTS (movie) Jimmy never plays in this odd way. You can see it in the Earls Court shows (Trampled, STH) and in every ´77 show I´ve seen so far. By ´79 his fingers seemed so sticky it´s a pain to watch (Knebworth). I was surprised that there are some really fast, non-sloppy solos from 1980.

Again, this is no JP bashing (I love this guy)!!! I just wonder what happened to his hand and playing between ´73 and ´75.

@Steve:

By "scale" in Achilles Last Stand JPJ is referring to the key of the transition part (and the notes Jimmy is playing), not a certain fretboard system that is used for flashy improvising. (BTW - JPJ is right - this part is clever! :D )

Edited by Jiri
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The ol' three finger technique! :D

As for starting a tour with a sick singer, there's a little more to that. Robert had vocal surgery during the hiatus in 74. And while I'm not saying he didn't have the flu, he was also re-learning how to use his voice. Anyone with a copy of the dry mixes from Physical Graffiti will hear a voice vastly different than the one on Houses of the Holy. It's a real testament to Jimmy's brilliant studio work how he got the vocals on Physical Graffiti to sound like they do. It really wasn't until Presence that Robert began to master his "new" voice.

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Interesting. Now, you mention it... :)

I´ve always noticed the hoarse undertone in Custard Pie, IMTOD and especially Sick Again. Or the laidback singing in Ten Years Gone. It´s very different to the bright shouting of Houses Of The Holy (song) from ´72 or Night Flight from ´70. Maybe another reason to also release older material on Physical Graffiti. B)

It would be interesting to know exactly which approach Jimmy went for to solve the "different-voice-issue" on this album. IMHO first of all the instrument tracks appear quite loud compared to the lead vox. This way The Rover and Sick Again sound like they´ve been recorded on the very same day even though The Rover is 2 years older. Brilliant!!! B)

Edited by Jiri
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Great thread! So the '73 injury happened at the airport in Long Beach and it would seem it is possible but unconfirmed the '75 injury occured just prior to the Brussels and Rotterdam gigs. The three day break which followed those two gigs was probably just time off (with no rehearsing) as I believe the gear had already been packed and/or shipped to the US.

I've made a note the '73 injury may have been reported in the LA Times; I shall attempt to obtain a copy.

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I've made a note the '73 injury may have been reported in the LA Times; I shall attempt to obtain a copy.

I'm only going from memory and I may be mistaken. I'm no archivist. I just go from what I remember, so don't take my word as gospel! Hell, it could've been Circus or Hit Parader!!! :lol:

It's been a long time...

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The ol' three finger technique! :D

As for starting a tour with a sick singer, there's a little more to that. Robert had vocal surgery during the hiatus in 74. And while I'm not saying he didn't have the flu, he was also re-learning how to use his voice. Anyone with a copy of the dry mixes from Physical Graffiti will hear a voice vastly different than the one on Houses of the Holy. It's a real testament to Jimmy's brilliant studio work how he got the vocals on Physical Graffiti to sound like they do. It really wasn't until Presence that Robert began to master his "new" voice.

Hi 'Evester', would you believe I have only three fingers left hand, my ring finger was severed when someone slammed a door on it!!!! :oops:

I can still play, I've learned to play with three, I use the pick more, treble speed sometimes and also do 'pull-off's' (a guitar technique,) which I learned from Ritchie Blackmore, who I also met as a teen..... It makes the lead guitar sound pretty fast, but it's just a technique.

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Oh, and MSG, thanks, but while I have scanned literally hundreds of LZ photos, there's no need to give me credit for these photos - I was only reposting most of them. It's just that I'm a little more systematic than most about how I save my LZ photos, so I usually have photos relevant to the discussions. :D

And well.... I have about 12,000 pics of the band. :rolleyes:

You're always so generous about sharing your photos, Otto. No doubt the ones I posted here came from you. :D

What you are saying about that injury is really interesting - and very convincing when you look at the pics where you can see the bandages, as they cover his hand, and not any of his fingers at all. It would be great if we could find out for sure, because as Steve says, it doesn't seem to have been very serious - but all the books, without exception, say that it was a sprained finger.

I remember reading/hearing that some people who were on the scene heard Jimmy say that he had to soak his hand. I'm not sure what that means as far as the injury but, whatever it was and whatever he did, he played well on those nights at the Forum.

As for the stories about how it happened, I must say I found it disappointing that Robert Godwin doesn't include anything about either of these two incidents in his Press Reports book. But Lewis and Pallett do include this quote about the LA mishap in '73:

'How did Page sprain his finger? Incredible rumors about that were rampant around the Sunset Strip including that the boys were busy throwing beer bottles and finally a table - out of the windows of the ninth floor of the Continental Hyatt House Hotel [e.g. 'Riot House' - OM] into a Lincoln convertible in the parking lot - just for fun, you know. Page's finger got in the way and you know the rest. Led Zeppelin has stayed at the Continental several times before and their frolicking has resulted in repair expenses being tacked on the bill, but they are always contrite afterwards and seemingly are always welcome guests at this hostelry of the rock kingdom.'

That quote reminds me of how news and rumors circulated amongst fans prior to the internet and text messaging. I was part of the "common rabble" of fans and we even got wind of the rumors that Jimmy injured his finger at the Riot House - whatever the reason for canceling a concert, fans' imaginations will run rampant.

I don't think it fazed his playing at all. :D

Remember...Jimmy has magick fingers.

A couple of us...at least, were there that week. :rolleyes:

A couple...

Edited by MadScreamingGallery
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I'm now wondering if I think the injury happened at the Long Beach Airport because Ev posted it and I replaced LAX with Long Beach Municipal. If the band were flying within CA via the Falcon, it might be that they couldn't take off or land from LAX so they went via LB. The road crew went to San Diego and back via bus.

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Well, I have found a couple of quotes from interviews with Jimmy at the time.

First, on the question why they didn't just postpone the tour - this is from an interview by Chris Charlesworth for Melody Maker, seemingly conducted in Chicago (hence around January 20-22, 1975):

'I can't play any blues at all, can't bend notes either. It's the most important finger for a guitarist, so I'm having to modify my playing to suit the situation. A shame but it can't be helped. We've had to cut Dazed & Confused from the set and substitute How Many More Times, which we haven't played in four years. I'm still doing the violin bow routine but we've had to alter even that and I can't do it as well as I'd like to. I can tell it's not as good as it usually is, but the audiences don't seem to notice. We almost canceled the tour, but we couldn't as we'd sold all the tickets and a postponement would have meant chaos. It couldn't have happened at a worse time either.'

The band was, of course, huge by this time. In conversation with Lisa Robinson on January 22, 1975 (the last of three Chicago shows was that night) he did say something about how it happened, and how it's affecting his playing:

'I'm having to develop a three-finger technique. But it's a drag. It happened when I was on a train in England - on my way to rehearsal. I was at the front of the train planning to rush off and grab a taxi, when the train stopped abruptly. I must have grabbed at something, and the finger got caught in the hinge of the door. I was just totally numb - numb with shock. I just looked at it and said 'oh no' .... I mean it's the most important finger for a guitarist: third finger, left hand. The wedding ring finger.... It's the one that does all the leverage, and most of the work and it really came as a blow because I just couldn't play with it, I'm still not rally playing with it. Last night I used it on a couple of chord changes but it still hurts. I'm starting to master a three-fingered technique though. I may to work at this at home - work out three- and two-finger techniques so that whenever there's another accident - which I'm bound to have, at the beginning of an important tour! - I'll be ready for it.'

Edited by Otto Masson
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No, it's the injuries I found confusing, not the quotes! I thought on one occasion he injured his hand on an airport fence in the US, and on another occasion he injured it in the train door. But I'm at work so don't have any dates to hand. If there was only one injury, then presumably the airport incident must not have happened.

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Bravo Otto! You always come through! I'd really like to know where those quotes came from, because I remember reading them years ago! I don't remember what I had for lunch yesterday, but I sure as hell remember those! :beer:

:lol: Yeah, well, thanks mate, as it turns out I just hadn't looked thoroughly enough earlier - it's in this book, which I've found is often very useful to have, as it has extensive quotes from interviews, news items, etc. It's more than 500 pages, two columns on each one, so there's a lot there.

PressReports.jpg

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