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Jimmy Page´s injured fingers in the 70ies


Jiri
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On 03/02/2018 at 3:26 AM, gibsonfan159 said:

Alright, I'm trying to do some research on Page's technique in 75 and why he changed so much in 75. It's well known to most fans that he injured his ring finger before the 75 tour kicked off. I had always assumed he was a little "off" because he was still using his ring finger although it hurt like crazy. I also assumed the possibility that Page was taking painkillers which may or may not have led to a heroin addiction. Now I've discovered he substituted his ring finger with his pinky when playing. That's kind of mind blowing in itself. Rewiring your brain to play differently than you have been for a decade is pretty unbelievable, especially in just a few weeks. Using your pinky instead of your ring finger will definitely kill your fluidity, so it all kind of makes sense now.

What doesn't make sense is why Page was still doing it by the Earls Court shows. Shouldn't a fractured finger tip have been healed by then? I've noticed on the EC shows that he avoids using the ring finger for lateral movement, but still uses it for some quick runs vertically. That honestly sounds like a sprain or carpal tunnel (not being able to move it in one specific direction).

Let's leave aside for one moment whether there's a loss of fluidity in 75. I think there are two things going on here:

Because of his injury he's made some changes here and there, and maybe he liked some of them. You are seeing a bit of that in the Black Dog clip from Earls Court. I do think though that the whole 'three finger technique' comment shold be taken with a pinch of salt. Sure, there may have been certain chords and phrases he approached differently, but I'd agree with you that to redefine his whole playing style in a matter of days is not credible. I'm not 100% sure either that we are seeing more little finger action in 75 than before; his lead style has never really made much use of it, but I think you will find pre 75 examples of him doing it occasionally.

Second, I'd still argue (as I did at length somewhere on here, so won't repeat it) that his whole style of playing has changed a bit; there's far less of the fun but reasonably straightforward blues/rock and roll stuff, and much more jazzy/thoughtful stuff. I think that contributes most of the difference in what we hear in 75.

Here's a related question. Can you determine any significant decline in his playing between Brussels and Chicago 75? I couldn't.

 

 

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6 hours ago, Crimson Avenger said:

 

Second, I'd still argue (as I did at length somewhere on here, so won't repeat it) that his whole style of playing has changed a bit; there's far less of the fun but reasonably straightforward blues/rock and roll stuff, and much more jazzy/thoughtful stuff. I think that contributes most of the difference in what we hear in 75.

 

 

Right here. I believe during Zep's touring hiatus Aug 73' - Dec 74', Jimmy attended a guitar retreat of sorts hosted by John McLaughlin. This makes sense as to his change of style as beginning in 75' we are indeed hearing some very interesting, disjointed counter-runs ala McLaughlin on Bitches Brew. He continues this up until the end of Zep whereas the b-Bender style would dominate from 83' - 86'. 

This is why, IMO, Jimmy's best live playing was 96' - 2001' when he had incredible fluidity and phrasing, and was combining all styles together in a cohesive, melodic formula. He may have been faster during Zep but he was never this passionate, fluid, and focused as he was during this period. His construction of extended solo's and his ability to make one guitar sound like three was never as good as it was during this time.

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15 hours ago, Crimson Avenger said:

 I'm not 100% sure either that we are seeing more little finger action in 75 than before; his lead style has never really made much use of it, but I think you will find pre 75 examples of him doing it occasionally.

 

 

That's the first thing I thought as well and went back to watch earlier versions of the same songs. He's keeping that pinky out of the way for the most part and relying heavily on the ring finger for the bends, unlike the EC footage where he's bending with his middle finger and playing his pinky basically underneath his ring finger. He's still uses the ring finger for some quicker runs, but not much. I noticed it on the solos from OTHAFA, Black Dog, and Stairway. I also check Seattle 77 and Knebworth. He's back to normal on those shows, using his ring finger exclusively.

 

15 hours ago, Crimson Avenger said:

  there's far less of the fun but reasonably straightforward blues/rock and roll stuff, and much more jazzy/thoughtful stuff. I think that contributes most of the difference in what we hear in 75.

 

 

 

That doesn't account for struggling to play the same solos he'd been nailing for years (i.e. Black Dog). I would excuse it because of the finger, but I think he was more fluid in the beginning of the tour and at EC. For some reason the middle has him struggling to play fluidly and remember what he's doing (drugs?).

 

15 hours ago, Crimson Avenger said:

Here's a related question. Can you determine any significant decline in his playing between Brussels and Chicago 75? I couldn't.

 

 

I think 2/7 is the first show where I can hear him lose some ability to solo smoothly and phrase on a high level. By 2/12 he's hit that sub par level where he struggles with syncopation. As a result, I think he changes his soloing from fast legato runs to more noodling and doing repetitive bends. The 2/13 OTHAFA solo shows this perfectly, and that's the rut he kind of gets stuck in for the remainder of 75.

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On 06/02/2018 at 3:25 AM, gibsonfan159 said:

That doesn't account for struggling to play the same solos he'd been nailing for years (i.e. Black Dog). I would excuse it because of the finger, but I think he was more fluid in the beginning of the tour and at EC. For some reason the middle has him struggling to play fluidly and remember what he's doing (drugs?)

There's the problem, I don't think he does struggle in terms of technique. Black Dog is an encore in 75, and, fair point, it is true to say that those encores aren't always played with 100% concentration. There are a few out of tune ones, but most are fine. Other older ones in 75 such as Communication Breakdown or Heartbreaker (3.20 notwithstanding) are invariably very good.

I don't think drugs are a significant issue in 75 (any more than any previous year). It's just not fair to lump 75 in with 77, by which point he has begun to lose his grip somewhat. Despite Steven Davis' best insinuations, there's no evidence whatever that he had a heroin issue in 75, and I'd say that's borne out by the video footage as much as the audio. He's very much in charge of things at Earls Court for example. By 77 I think JPJ is more in charge.

You make an interesting point about the start of the 75 US tour. He's clearly reining himself time-wise in in January, due to the finger. From what we can hear I think the results are very good indeed. It's fair to assume that as the weeks went on he pushed his finger further, and had mixed results on occasion when things got painful. But I can't agree that he then tails off. By the latter part of February he's playing with a lot more confidence, and the solos start to get longer. That's not necessarily a good thing! That said, I think he generally plays much better in March 75 than at EC in May.

On 06/02/2018 at 3:25 AM, gibsonfan159 said:

By 2/12 he's hit that sub par level where he struggles with syncopation. As a result, I think he changes his soloing from fast legato runs to more noodling and doing repetitive bends. The 2/13 OTHAFA solo shows this perfectly, and that's the rut he kind of gets stuck in for the remainder of 75

We're always going to differ on this, but that's cool. I love 75 OTHAFA, I suspect for exactly the same reasons as you dislike it!

 

 

 

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On 05/02/2018 at 5:17 PM, IpMan said:

Right here. I believe during Zep's touring hiatus Aug 73' - Dec 74', Jimmy attended a guitar retreat of sorts hosted by John McLaughlin. This makes sense as to his change of style as beginning in 75' we are indeed hearing some very interesting, disjointed counter-runs ala McLaughlin on Bitches Brew. He continues this up until the end of Zep whereas the b-Bender style would dominate from 83' - 86'. 

This is why, IMO, Jimmy's best live playing was 96' - 2001' when he had incredible fluidity and phrasing, and was combining all styles together in a cohesive, melodic formula. He may have been faster during Zep but he was never this passionate, fluid, and focused as he was during this period. His construction of extended solo's and his ability to make one guitar sound like three was never as good as it was during this time.

Yes, he evolved as a player. Live, but also the same in the studio; he's not the same studio player in 75 as he is in 69. That's what makes him, and Zep generally so interesting. He hits a brick wall after 75, when he can longer tour, and his songwriting partnership with Plant dries up. I'm no expert on the 80s, and what I've heard I generally dislike. But I'd agree he gets a strong second wind in 98 (even 95 too. Although he's a bit more uneven there, I love his Glastonbury 95 performance). Plant seems to be the magic ingredient.

 

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  • 3 years later...
On 2/5/2018 at 12:17 PM, IpMan said:

Right here. I believe during Zep's touring hiatus Aug 73' - Dec 74', Jimmy attended a guitar retreat of sorts hosted by John McLaughlin. This makes sense as to his change of style as beginning in 75' we are indeed hearing some very interesting, disjointed counter-runs ala McLaughlin on Bitches Brew. He continues this up until the end of Zep whereas the b-Bender style would dominate from 83' - 86'. 

This is why, IMO, Jimmy's best live playing was 96' - 2001' when he had incredible fluidity and phrasing, and was combining all styles together in a cohesive, melodic formula. He may have been faster during Zep but he was never this passionate, fluid, and focused as he was during this period. His construction of extended solo's and his ability to make one guitar sound like three was never as good as it was during this time.

I would agree with this assessment. His playing during this later period in the '90's is more controlled, and fits the song in a more mature manner.  Seems to me that during the Zep years, Jimmy “tried” different licks and phrases to measure their impact on not only the song, but impact on the audience.  When the 90's arrived, he was more selective in his playing technique.  By this era, he had learned what would work and what would not. Plant and Page's audience had matured too, judging by the audience's age makeup. If Jimmy was experiencing tendtonits or some arthritis, those conditions would most likely prompt some necessary changes to cope.  You can bet that with the frantic touring schedule in Zep's 10-year run and hours' - long concerts, Page must have experienced playing strain on the hands and fingers; whether there were broken bones or joints, or not.

 

ADK-Zeppy

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  • 3 weeks later...
On 2/5/2018 at 5:17 PM, IpMan said:

Right here. I believe during Zep's touring hiatus Aug 73' - Dec 74', Jimmy attended a guitar retreat of sorts hosted by John McLaughlin. This makes sense as to his change of style as beginning in 75' we are indeed hearing some very interesting, disjointed counter-runs ala McLaughlin on Bitches Brew. He continues this up until the end of Zep whereas the b-Bender style would dominate from 83' - 86'. 

Yep I do think this is a very significant factor thats typically overlooked, a lot of the playing that people put down to "sloppiness" really I think is deliberate, most obviously in the three piece jam section of No Quarter which is obviously looking to shift more towards jazz rock.

I do wonder as well if this doesnt also explain some of the shift in tone in the latter Zep years and especially in 75? moving towards a harsher sound that arguably highlights this element of his playing more.

You can I think definately make a case it suited some songs better than others,  most obviously songs recorded in the latter era tend to suit it well but I think it does make an interesting alternative for stuff like No Quarter and Dazed plus solos in songs like Over the Hills are IMHO livened up by it, Stairway I would tend to agree cna get a bit patchy as I think its solo really does depend more on fluid speed and this kind of playing can get in the way of that.

Edited by greenman
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On 2/5/2018 at 12:17 PM, IpMan said:

Right here. I believe during Zep's touring hiatus Aug 73' - Dec 74', Jimmy attended a guitar retreat of sorts hosted by John McLaughlin. This makes sense as to his change of style as beginning in 75' we are indeed hearing some very interesting, disjointed counter-runs ala McLaughlin on Bitches Brew. He continues this up until the end of Zep whereas the b-Bender style would dominate from 83' - 86'. 

This is why, IMO, Jimmy's best live playing was 96' - 2001' when he had incredible fluidity and phrasing, and was combining all styles together in a cohesive, melodic formula. He may have been faster during Zep but he was never this passionate, fluid, and focused as he was during this period. His construction of extended solo's and his ability to make one guitar sound like three was never as good as it was during this time.

If you watch the Immigrant Song video in Australia 1972…on the double CD Led Zeppelin, you can hear Jimmy soloing with some interesting “outside” playing before his solo finishes.  It tells me that Page could have easily slipped into the Jazz-Rock genre.

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I believe a fair assessment of Jimmy's playing in 75' starting around 2-10 has most to do with him extending solos, especially on NQ & D&C. This was simply taxing his injured finger beyond it's capability which explains why his bends are nowhere near as deep nor are they held for very long. Add the use of possibly copious amounts of alcohol before the encores to soothe the pain and there ya have it. Makes sense no? When his solos were shorter prior to 2-10 (apprx) he was not having these problems. Jimmy should have realized his limitations with his injured finger in 75' and kept the shows around 2 hours. Those Jan & early Feb shows remind me quite a lot of TSRTS, late 73' Zep to my ears with the addition of the PG tunes. 

I think Jimmy believed he needed to bring that Zep magic of which the extended jams were somewhat integral, even if it meant he might shat the bed here and there. He was just flying too close to the sun at some gigs and pushing it too far, thus getting burned. Just my opinion.

Edited by BobDobbs
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One of the things I find interesting about the '75 tour is that it follows the longest layoff from performing live that Jimmy had since 1965. He joined the Yardbirds in 1966 and toured with them in '66, '67, and '68, then toured with Zep basically non-stop until late July, 1973. The break that followed lasted almost exactly 16 months (August 1973 - December 1974) so I wonder how much rust factored into his playing after the long layoff. Given the injury to his hand, it's hard to determine what part it might have played in the early parts of the '75 tour versus an intentional change in style versus rust. And I think it's interesting that he had even longer breaks between the end of the '75 tour and the start of the '77 tour and the end of the '77 tour and the '79 shows, as well as a shorter but still significant break between Knebworth and the 1980 shows, and the dates on those latter tours are known for sticky fingers. They were also relatively short tours (even though they were all meant to go longer), perhaps not giving him enough time to get into peak live form.

This idea first occurred to me during the '95 Page/Plant. He was generally felt to be playing as well as he had in ages by the time the Fall shows rolled around, which was roughly half a year into the tour. His playing maintained a high level as the tour continued in early 1996. He then had a long layoff before the start of the 1998 tour, which featured early dates in Europe that gave him time to shake off the cobwebs outside of areas with major press coverage. He then returned to form for the latter parts of the tour, and continued playing well in 1999 and 2000 with The Black Crowes. 

TLDR; Maybe Jimmy just needed a good amount of time on the road to get into peak form.

Edited by SteveZ98
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