The guitarist Jimmy Page couldn’t look in the eye

Jimmy Page

Jimmy Page is undoubtedly one of the greatest guitarists of the twentieth century. Page, Led Zeppelin’s guitarist, has been inspiring and thrilling audiences for many years as the driving force behind one of the 1970s‘ biggest rock bands.

Page cemented himself as a certified guitar hero in the early 1960s, learning his trade as a session musician before joining The Yardbirds. The recommendation came from none other than Eric Clapton. The sight of the man with his double-necked Gibson still excites music fans worldwide. While disbanded in 1980, just before drummer John Bonham’s death, Page has remained active in the music scene. He played with various bands and supergroups throughout the 1980s and 1990s.

The London-born guitarist has always been candid about the musicians who impacted his popular playing style, including his contemporaries. “Out of all the guitarists to come out of the sixties,” he told Rolling Stone in 1975, “Beck, Clapton, Lee, Townshend, and I are still trying.” That speaks a lot.” He also lauded Jimi Hendrix, calling him “the best guitarist any of us ever had.” Beyond the influence of his 1960s peers, Jimmy Page looked to blues giants like Muddy Waters and electric guitar innovator Les Paul for inspiration.

Page’s openness about his influences hasn’t shielded him from frequent accusations of pilfering riffs and blatantly copying other guitarists. Muddy Waters, Robert Johnson, Howlin’ Wolf, and Willie Dixon all have strong claims against the Led Zeppelin guitarist. To put it mildly, Plant substantially borrowed from the Delta blues tradition during his time with the band.

Of course, this is not unprecedented. Numerous prominent bands from the 1960s and 1970s were inspired by, and frequently plagiarized from, overlooked Black blues performers. The Rolling Stones claimed ownership of the gospel ballad ‘The Last Time‘. Elvis‘ rendition of ‘Hound Dog‘ surpassed Big Mama Thornton’s original. The Beach Boys virtually stole their whole style from rock ‘n’ roll pioneer Chuck Berry. However, just because it was sadly commonplace does not make it any less heinous. When accused of copying, one artist in particular caused Page discomfort.

The Scottish folk musician Bert Jansch has cast a long shadow over guitarists, including Jimmy Page. “It was so far ahead of what everyone else was doing,” the Led Zeppelin guitarist reportedly told The Guardian.

Page let his admiration for Jansch get the best of him, mimicking his playing style on ‘Bron-Y-Aur Stomp‘ and ‘Black Mountain Side‘. The latter is even titled identically to Jansch’s track ‘Black Waterside.’
This influence was not lost on Jansch. According to Ultimate Classic Rock, Jansch said of Page, “The thing I’ve noticed about Jimmy whenever we meet is that he can’t look me in the eye.”

“Well, he ripped me off, didn’t he?” continued the Scottish musician.

It’s difficult to disagree; listening to those tracks side by side, there’s an apparent resemblance, and it’s reasonable that Page would be embarrassed about ripping off one of his idols.

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