The guitarist Jimmy Page couldn’t look in the eye

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Widely recognized as a guitar virtuoso of the 20th century, Jimmy Page, the maestro behind Led Zeppelin’s strings, has left an indelible mark on music history.

His journey began in the buzzing 1960s music scene, where he polished his craft as a session musician, eventually stepping into the limelight with The Yardbirds, thanks to a nod from the legendary Eric Clapton. Page’s image, often seen with his iconic double-necked Gibson, continues to resonate with music enthusiasts globally.

Although Led Zeppelin disbanded in 1980, Page’s passion for music never waned, as he continued to collaborate with various bands and supergroups into the 80s and 90s.

Born in London, Page was always open about the array of musicians who shaped his distinctive style, including peers and blues legends alike. In a 1975 Rolling Stone interview, he humbly placed himself alongside fellow guitar greats like Beck, Clapton, Lee, and Townshend, all striving for greatness.

His admiration for Jimi Hendrix was profound, once dubbing him “the best guitarist any of us ever had.” Yet, his inspirations also included blues masters like Muddy Waters and the innovative Les Paul.

Despite his openness, Page faced allegations of lifting riffs and mimicking the styles of others, particularly from the blues realm. Artists like Muddy Waters, Robert Johnson, Howlin’ Wolf, and Willie Dixon had notable grievances against him.

Jimmy Page’s borrowing from the Delta blues tradition was not isolated, as many prominent bands of the 60s and 70s also drew heavily, sometimes questionably, from the rich tapestry of Black blues music. This practice, while widespread among icons like The Rolling Stones, Elvis, and The Beach Boys, does not diminish its questionable nature.

Jimmy Page’s particular discomfort arose when faced with accusations related to the Scottish folk legend Bert Jansch. Jansch’s profound influence on guitarists of the time was undeniable, and Page was no exception.

His admiration led him to echo Jansch’s style in tracks like ‘Bron-Y-Aur Stomp’ and ‘Black Mountain Side’, the latter bearing a strikingly similar title to Jansch’s ‘Black Waterside.’ Jansch himself noticed the resemblance, once remarking on Page’s inability to meet his gaze, a subtle nod to the creative borrowing.

The similarities between their respective tracks are undeniable, underscoring the complex relationship between inspiration and originality in the world of music.

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