During a recent interview with Total Guitar, Led Zeppelin’s founder and legendary guitarist, Jimmy Page, told the detailed story of how his favorite guitar was stolen and how he ended up performing at one of the most important concerts of Led Zeppelin’s career with a replica.
There is not an instrument of bigger importance than a guitar for a guitarist as talented and as famous as Jimmy Page. Thus, his views on guitars and the ones he has used to perform with have always been interesting topics of conversation.
In his recent interview, Jimmy Page shared the story of how his iconic Gibson Black Beauty was stolen and the replica that Gibson sent him as a replacement. He also mentioned the shows in which he had to perform with the replica and how it affected his performance.
Page described his Gibson Black Beauty as a guitar he connected with. He said he discovered it before he went to art college and that once he played it, he felt that his search for the perfect guitar was over.
Here’s what Jimmy Page said about Gibson Black Beauty:
“The first time I played it, I had such a connection with it. I thought, ‘This is it. After all this searching and going through guitar shops, this is the one.’ I got it before I went to art college, so when I started doing studio work as a session player, that’s the electric that’s used on pretty much all of that work.”
The interviewer chimed in and said:
“You also played it during Led Zeppelin’s famous concert at London’s Royal Albert Hall in January 1970.”
To which Jimmy Page responded:
“Yes, at the tail end of it when we did some Eddie Cochran stuff. And after the Albert Hall, I thought I’d take it to the States with me on one of the tours and we’d just do all this rock ’n’ roll stuff at the end, the Eddie Cochran stuff with the Bigsby. So the story is that I take it over there, we’re in Minneapolis going to Montreal, and we arrive in Montreal but the guitar doesn’t. It disappears in Minneapolis. I realized it was lost or stolen.”
Even though Jimmy Page had an emotional connection with his Gibson Black Beauty, it seems like he also enjoyed using the Gibson Black Beauty replica. Gibson had created the replica with some differences in its design which Jimmy Page appreciated.
Page actually asked Gibson to do some alterations in the design so that he can get as many combinations as he can get to create the music that he wanted to. Thus, he said that he had ‘some extra sort of routing’ on the replica.
Here’s what Jimmy Page said about the replica’s design:
“Gibson, under the circumstances of me having played all the studio work on a Gibson Black Beauty, they made a clone of that, a version of it. That was pretty cool. And I had some extra sort of routing in it because on the original, where you have the up [position on the selector switch] it is the neck [pickup]. The middle [position] isn’t the neck and the bridge, it’s actually the bridge and the middle pickup. And then the down position is the bridge. So at no point could you get what you’d get on a Standard, which was the neck and bridge pickup together, so I worked out a way of doing that, and I had that built into that particular model, because I thought, well, crikey, you want to do that, you want any combination that you can get. So that was what I had, a Gibson Black Beauty [replica].”
Then he went on to talk about the shows in which he had to use the replica instead of his beloved Gibson Black Beauty. He said that he actually enjoyed playing with the replica during their concert at the O2 in 1976 because it had a ‘thick sound.’
It turns out that it would take almost forty years for Jimmy Page to be reunited with his Gibson Black Beauty as in 2015 the stolen guitar resurfaced. Page added that people need to know the story behind his guitar to better understand its importance and the role it played in the music he created.
Here’s what Jimmy Page said about the concert he played at with the replica and how he felt when his stolen guitar was found:
“Yes, that’s the guitar that I played at the O2 when we did ‘For Your Life’ (from Zeppelin’s 1976 album Presence). I thought that would be really cool, that thick sound because it sounded really good. And then after the O2 [in 2015], my guitar that was stolen turns up.
It gets found. Isn’t that interesting? And unless you get the story, you just see a Black Beauty and think, oh that’s the same one he had before. But there’s a whole story about how it gets lost and I didn’t expect it ever to be back in my hands ever again. I thought it was gone.”
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