Jimmy Page rose to fame as the guitarist for the rock band Led Zeppelin. Years later, Page is thought to be one of the greatest guitarists of all time. As a guitarist, Page is known for his unique guitar riffs and solos, particularly in his work with Led Zeppelin. Bob Spitz’s 2021 biography Led Zeppelin: The Biography details how Page became so good at his guitar solos.
Jimmy Page got his first guitar as a child
Spitz’s Led Zeppelin: The Biography details how Page got his first guitar. When his family moved to Epsom in Surrey, England in the 1950s, he found a guitar had been left behind.
According to the book, the “cheap Spanish-style guitar that had come with the house. It was nothing more than a neglected ornament in a corner of the living room that no one had bothered to stash in the attic.”
Page would practice on the guitar with his friends Rod Wyatt and Dave Williams. Once his skill level outgrew this first guitar, Spitz wrote that Page worked a paper route to save money for a new guitar.
“I did a paper round and got a Hofner Senator,” Page said in Led Zeppelin: The Biography.
The Led Zeppelin member constantly practiced guitar solos
Early on, Page developed an interest in trying to master guitar solos. Together with Wyatt and Williams, Page worked hard at perfecting guitar solos while he was growing up.
“Solos which affected me could send a shiver up my spine,” Page said in Led Zeppelin: The Biography, “and I’d spend hours, and in some cases days, trying to get them [down]. The first ones were Buddy Holly chord solos, like ‘Peggy Sue, but the next step was definitely James Burton on Ricky Nelson records, which was when it started to get difficult.”
In the biography, Williams shared what he observed, saying “Jimmy was obsessed with James Burton… I’d bought these junky Ricky Nelson LPs in secondhand record shops, and took them around to Jim’s. A week later, parts of tracks were scratched away where he’d been playing and replaying the bloody solos.”
Jimmy Page and his friend watched performances to improve
In addition to constantly practicing, Page wanted to watch live performances in order to learn from those on stage. According to Spitz, Page and Williams would sneak into “Epsom’s Ebbisham Hall” together to watch bands perform live music.
“Jimmy idolized Bobby Taylor,” Williams said in Led Zeppelin: The Biography. “Once we were able to talk our way into the hall, we’d stand at the back and watch him play solos on any number of amazing Jimmy Reed songs. Jimmy couldn’t take his eyes off Bobby.”
Spitz reports in the biography that after watching others perform guitar solos in person, Page would “rush home and try to duplicate the solos from memory.”
Based on Led Zeppelin: The Biography, Page’s method of combining constant practice with studying records and live performances paid off in the long run.