The guitarists Jimmy Page and Eric Clapton shared a similar English birthplace in the 1940s and were only a few years apart. Both performers were heavily affected by the Blues when they first started playing music, and they both ended up joining The Yardbirds at various points in time. The Yardbirds were one of the most influential bands in the nation in the 1960s.
After leaving the band to perform the Blues with John Mayall, Clapton founded Cream with Jack Bruce and Ginger Baker, fusing the Blues with a harder sound. While this was going on, Page upped the ante by starting The New Yardbirds, eventually known as Led Zeppelin. Both groups had a significant role in the development of music, particularly Hard Rock and Heavy Metal.
Eric Clapton has shared his opinions about several of his contemporaries, including Led Zeppelin, throughout the years.
Cream had already staged their farewell show a few months prior to the publication of Led Zeppelin’s self-titled debut album in 1969. Jimmy Page’s band was frequently likened to Jeff Beck’s Group and Cream at the time, but they ended up being the most popular band in that genre in the 1970s. Jimmy Page and Eric Clapton have always respected one another, but throughout the years, the Cream guitarist has always been honest about his feelings for Zeppelin.
Clapton’s remarks were cited in Led Zeppelin’s “The Definitive Biography” book as follows:
“They were very loud. I thought it was unnecessarily loud. I liked some of it; I really did like some of it. But a lot of it was just too much. They overemphasized whatever point they were making, I thought.”
Clapton thinks that Led Zeppelin carried on what Cream started since they combined the Blues with Rock & Roll and made the music a little heavier than it was at the time. However, as he said to Uncut in 2012, he wasn’t pleased with the direction that Zeppelin took.
“There was a band called Blue Cheer, who I think were probably the originators of Heavy Metal. Because they didn’t really have traditional roots in the Blues. They didn’t have a mission. It was just about being loud”
“Cream were very loud, too. We got caught up in having huge banks of Marshall amps just for the hell of it. But we had a really strong foundation in blues and jazz. Led Zeppelin took up our legacy. But then they took it somewhere else that I didn’t really have a great deal of admiration for.”
In an interview with the Cream documentary “Strange Brew” in 1991, he made a similar statement. Eric said, “I think (Cream) was one of the early Heavy Metal bands probably, without knowing it. Because when we disbanded Cream and we weren’t around anymore, Led Zeppelin filled that void. They became the first kind of official Heavy Metal band. So maybe Cream was forerunner of that.”