Although Led Zeppelin were known for the forays into hard rock, folk, and even funk — they will always be remembered for being one of music's greatest blues ensembles.
During a recent chat with Classic Rock, Jimmy Page spoke about why the blues still matters — 100 years after its greatest legends were born: “The blues is scary. It’s threatening. It’s saying: 'I’m coming to get you.' The blues. . . it’s just undeniable. It was just an undeniable element of everything that was (going on in Led Zeppelin). If there hadn’t been that sort of movement in Chicago, back in the '50s, and that sort of riffing, then you wouldn't have got what came through in various bands later. Certainly for me and how it affected Led Zeppelin.”
Page spoke about the originators of blues: “I owe it to all of them. That’s how I learnt. My breakthrough was when I understood how to do bottleneck guitar. That’s the point when open tunings first come in for me. Boom! That’s it. And that whole world opened itself up for me. I wasn’t actually trying to play note-for-note what anyone else had done.”
Page, who produced all of Led Zeppelin's albums, went on to recall how he wanted to fit the medium into the band's catalogue for its first album in 1969: “As far as the material for the first Zeppelin album goes. I definitely knew that I really wanted to do 'I Can’t Quit You Baby.' ' Dazed And Confused,' too. And that’s not 'blues,' I know. But it is! If you have the harmonica playing that riff, you know that it’s blues alright. And also 'Babe I’m Gonna Leave You.' All of these things. I could just list them and list them. It was very intentional, what the first album was gonna be. There was gonna be a definite showcase of the blues. But it needed to have that Led Zeppelin character put into it.”
When asked if he was the biggest blues fan in Led Zeppelin, Jimmy Page admitted, “No, I wouldn’t say that. We all had our roots, that’s for sure. Each and every one of us, I’m sure, had played the blues in some sort of department or other. What I would say is that Robert (Plant) was a blues aficionado, but he was very into the country blues. (He was) a damn fine harp player. He was used to playing that acoustic, but I was really keen to get him playing it through an amp. So then you get things like 'When The Levee Breaks,' which is really gonna scare the pants off you with what happens to the harmonica.”
Jimmy Page told us that when he picks up his guitar — even if you can't actually pinpoint them — all of his past influences inform the music he makes: “It's quite an eclectic mix. Therefore, the intensity of one number will be totally different to another. Whatever I'm going to do next will always have all these different moods, and shades, and colors. Because, that's, that's, sort of, how I am, really. And it's gotta be a reflection of how you are, I think.”