Session guitarist turned Yardbirds axeman, Jimmy Page's legacy was built on his next move, Led Zeppelin. Page was not a precise guitarist. He could play as fast as anyone but there might be a missed note here or there. No matter, Page played with exceptional bravado and confidence. As a guitarist Page wasn't so much interested in playing a succession of notes but rather the force of those notes. He was the master of "hammer of the gods" sound that created legions of Zep fans.
As the third of the legendary Yardbirds' guitarists it was easy to underestimate Page. He lacked the pure dedication and taste of Eric Clapton or the technical mastery of Jeff Beck. And his tenure with the Yardbirds came when they were so clearly in decline. Expectations were low.
Where Page really stepped out was on his solos. "Communication Breakdown" and "Dazed And Confused" from Led Zeppelin's self-titled debut clearly showed this was a guitarist to be reckoned with. He topped himself on "Led Zeppelin II" with "Heartbreaker" and then went right for the jugular on "Untitled" with the classic "Rock N' Roll" solo. His fingers would shoot up the guitar's neck creating an ever-accelerating barrage of notes that climaxed in a vibrato flurry and bent tones. Audio fireworks.
Page could also lay down a riff with authority. "Whole Lotta Love" and "Dancing Days," recorded years apart, are proof. Page was also one of the first Rock guitarists to use both acoustic and electric guitars in the same song (not to mention his double necked 6 and 12 string guitar he played in concert). While "Stairway To Heaven," one of the most played songs in Rock, is the most obvious acoustic/electric blend, Page incorporated that sound on "Babe, I'm Gonna Leave You" from the group's first release.
As a songwriter, Page had a knack for ripping off Blues licks and only rarely getting caught (Willie Dixon successfully sued claiming the "Whole Lotta Love" riff was his). But on whole, Page's guitar lines were usually far more interesting than vocalist Robert Plant's lyrics.
While the pleasantly nostalgic Plant/Page tours and albums, the various soundtrack efforts and a brief stint with The Firm did little to embellish Page's reputation, they didn't have to. To know that Page was among the best and most creative guitarists all one has to do is listen to Led Zeppelin's first five albums.
Page and fellow Led Zeppelin alum John Paul Jones (bass/keyboards) joined the Foo Fighters onstage during the group's '08 London concert. Later in the year Page appeared in the documentary It Might Get Loud with fellow guitarists The Edge (U2) and Jack White (White Stripes/Raconteurs). The film, which premiered at the '08 Toronto Film Festival, focused on the three men and their instrument of choice.
Please see The Yardbirds, Led Zeppelin and The Firm.