The Dallas Morning News March 8, 1969
Led Zeppelin Takes Off
By marge Pettyjohn
All Jimmy Page wants to do, he says, is "just enjoy playing my guitar."
And Atlantic Records is letting him do just that, to the tune of over $200,000, the reported price the company paid to sign the former Yardbirds guitarist and his newly organized group, Led Zeppelin.
"Atlantic had faith in the group before they even heard the recording. I was more surprised than anyone;" admitted Page, who called from Miami, Fla., the last stop on the group's highly successful first American tour.
The formation of Led Zeppelin, said Page, wasn't an easy flight. When the Yardbirds split up last summer, Page and bassist Chris Dreja had plans to form another group but Dreja decided to go into management instead.
So Led Zeppelin finally began at the end of 1968 in a small, stuffy London rehearsal hall when Page gathered John Paul Jones and two other musicians - Robert Plant and John Bonham (he'd seen each perform only once) - for "a rehearsal."
"THE FOUR OF US got together in this two-by-two room and started playing," recalled Page. "Then we knew. We started laughing at each other. Maybe it was from relief or maybe from the knowledge that we knew we could groove together. But that was it. That was just how well it was going."
The statement of their first two weeks together is their debut album, LED ZEPPELIN (Atlantic), a disc cut in 15 hours and produced by Page himself who began his career as a session guitarist and producer.
"The basic reason for my producing the first album," he explained, "was because someone had to take hold and no one else really knew what they wanted. The only real problem was deciding in which direction to channel the music.
"We'll probably always be faced with the fact that individually, each member could cut his own album, going in his own direction, and it would be great.
"WHEN I JOINED the Yardbirds, my main reason was to give myself the opportunity of playing my own music. Before that, my only interest was session work. I didn't expect to gain something, really, by joining the Yardbirds. I respected them and thought it a privilege to be able to play with them.
Does he mind the constant identification of him as "former lead guitarist for the Yardbirds?"
"No," he quickly answered. "''in not ashamed of having been one of the Yardbirds. In fact I'm very proud of it. They were always a good group, always trying, always concerned with wanting to do good. The audience certainly held a lot of respect for the group and we never lost face, we always went out and tried."
Admitting his disappointment when the Yardbirds dissolved, he added that it came "because everyone began to feel the need to go in his own direction. The pity is, there would have still been great potential."
Because of Page, many people have notioned that Led Zeppelin is a direct offshoot from the Yardbirds. Not so, although Page himself points out that if it hadn't been for the then there'd be no Led Zeppelin today.
THE MUSIC OF Led Zeppelin? Less kinetic than the Yardbird heritage of its leader, Page calls it simply, "raw and basic."
"That was the whole thing that made the Yardbirds happen. To go into your own thing is fine, but it has to be a form of experimentation that evolves from a basic sound that everyone else knows and can relate to."
And originality, he believes, is not always the starting point. Three of the nine, cuts on Led Zeppelin's album arenot original. But does that mean that they plan to do mainly their own material?
"It just depends," he said, guessing that they'll "probably do half and half."
"There's no point in doing original material just for the sake of doing original material," he reasoned.
Led Zeppelin bas been compared to Cream, the Jimi Hendrix Experience, the Rolling Stones and, more recently, tagged as "the last of the supergroups."
Page's reaction to such references is a simple on , but admirably honest and truthful: "We're not super. Everyone else says that. The only trouble is when we start saying it ourselves.
"We don't want to sound like anyone else, so we don't try to copy or be like anyone else," he stressed.
"I just want to enjoy playing my guitar."