There are so many great electric guitar players!… which is why it’s such a popular instrument.
It’s said that 10% of the world’s population either play or have played the guitar.
In my experience, a really good place to learn to play the electric guitar is Jimmy Page’s ‘riffs’.
By taking a good look at what he played on the Led Zeppelin recordings you’ll gain a good understanding of the guitar’s role in a band and if you can play his riffs and solos you’ll have achieved a good standard with your own playing.
That’s why I wanted to do this series of lessons on “Led Zeppelin IV” and Page’s riffs for Australian Guitar Magazine.
This is the 2nd lesson in the series of 3 and in this lesson I break down two songs “Rock & Roll” & “Misty Mountain Hop”.
Jimmy Page, Jeff Beck, And The Yardbirds
When I read Jimmy Page’s biography I couldn’t believe how everything constantly fell into place for him through out his career.
Certainly he was very talented, a great musician and he worked extremely hard but fortuitously doors opened and opportunities came his way that would rarely come to others.
Page established a very successful career as a session guitarist in London’s busy recording industry where he played on loads of hits like Joe Cocker’s “With A Little Help From My Friends” he was in demand.
When Eric Clapton left the Yardbirds Giorgio Gomelsky, the band’s manager asked Page to join and replace Clapton but he turned the offer down… although he recommended Jeff Beck who agreed.
Being so busy in the studios recording Page didn’t have time for a band.
Later, however, he wanted to do something more creative than play on other people’s records, he wanted a band that would give him a vehicle to express his creativity.
One evening Page went to see the Yardbirds at one of their London gigs, he went backstage to say “hi” after the show, Jimmy was friendly with the band members especially Jeff Beck who he had known from their teens.
He walked in on a big argument that led to the bass player Paul Samwell-Smith walking out and with an American tour coming up, that put the band in a difficult position.
Jimmy Page agreed to do the tour playing bass which solved the problem.
While on tour it came to pass that Chris Dreja, the band’s rhythm guitarist, and Page swapped roles, so Page took up guitar duties which gave the Yardbirds a 2 lead guitar attack with Jeff Beck and Jimmy Page trading solos!
The shows and tour were a great success, it seemed like the line up had enormous potential and promise but by the end of the tour Jeff Beck walked out and quit along with the other 3 members leaving Jimmy Page alone as the only member left.
He saw the potential so decided to take on his inheritance and went about finding replacements.
The Story Of Zeppelin’s Pianist Ian Stewart
After recruiting the services of John Paul Jones, Robert Plant and John Bonham the name was changed from “The Yardbirds” to “Led Zeppelin” and within a few short years they were the biggest band in the world.
The album “Led Zeppelin IV” was recorded with the Rolling Stones’ mobile recording studio and with it came Ian Stewart the pianist.
Stewart’s story is really interesting…
He was one of the 6 original members of the Rolling Stones but when Andrew Loog Oldham took over managing the Stones, he thought that Stewart didn’t look the part so he was sacked, but kept on as tour manager.
He played piano on recordings but Loog Oldham didn’t want him seen live with the band, although he was a great pianist.
If we listen to any of the Rolling Stones’ albums we hear the piano as an integral part of the arrangements and the band’s sound, often it was Ian Stewart.
Let’s Rock & Roll!
The song “Rock & Roll” came about while recording “Led Zeppelin IV“.
The band took a break but John Bonham stayed at his drum kit and started playing the drum intro to Little Richard’s “Keep A Knocking” which is the same drum intro we hear on the Rock & Roll.
Jimmy Page picked up his guitar and Ian Stewart sat at the piano, they started jamming along while Robert Plant began scribbling down some lyrics.
That’s Stewart that we hear on the recording.
Stewart also played on “Boogie With Stu” that appeared later on Physical Graffiti.
It’s curious that “Rock & Roll” should have its origin in a Little Richard Rock & Roll song from the 50’s.
Early Rock & Roll is often thought to be about dancing, entertainment, even amusement but above all good times.
Led Zeppelin wanted to create Rock music that was also Art Music and have the listener appreciate their music in the same way that Classical Music is appreciated by its audience.
Although based in Rock & Roll and the electric guitar, Jimmy Page fused other influences to the Led Zeppelin sound with improvisation as a major component.
A good representation of Page’s style can be seen in the solo from “Rock & Roll” that I break down in this lesson.