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Music

Rock guitarist Jimmy Page turns 70

With his band Led Zeppelin, England's Jimmy Page helped pave the way for hard rock, and his guitar solo in "Stairway to Heaven" helped make him a legend. He has sold more than 300 million albums to date.

When Jimmy Page was born on January 9, 1944, in the little English town of Heston, his parents scarcely dreamed of him becoming a musician. His father was a personnel manager, and his mother worked as an assistant to a doctor. A generation's musical god came to the guitar quite by accident: when he moved with his parents at age 12, a guitar happened to be sitting in a corner of their new place. A classmate showed him a couple of chords, but he taught himself most of the rest.

His musical trademarks became his massive, distorted and - above all else - electronically amplified riffs, the endlessly long solos and a man unmistakable and unruly in equal measure. In the 1960s, Page made a living as a studio musician, working with acts like The Kinks, The Who, the Rolling Stones and the Yardbirds, while also studying art on the side. People in the field began to take notice.

Soon, the world did too, as Page founded his own band together with drummer John Bonham, bassist John Paul Jones and singer Robert Plant: Led Zeppelin. Over the next 12 years, the rockers revolutionized the music scene, hitting venues like an explosion and becoming idols for millions of young people. Jimmy Page clawed at his Gibson like hardly anyone else could, causing the instrument to yowl and sigh, while Plant did more yelling and shrieking than singing.

Led Zeppelin, pictured in 1970 (Photo by Ian Showell/Keystone/Getty Images)

Led Zeppelin, pictured in 1970



Searching for a creative spark

In 1980, after Bonham's death, the founding fathers of hard rock went their separate ways. Jimmy Page returned to working as a studio musician - although probably as the most expensive guitarist of all time.

In 2007, Led Zeppelin took the stage one more time in London, with hundreds of thousands of fans hoping in vain for a ticket. The show went down as a triumphal success, but it hasn't been repeated, with the band citing its members' ages as an impediment.

Fans still revere Jimmy Page as a guitar god, and "Rolling Stone" magazine named him the third best in their list of the 100 greatest guitarists of all time.

Page, however, insists that he has never mastered the instrument, telling the "Daily Telegraph" that, "Either I was playing it or it was playing me, it depends how you look at it." These days, he says he only plays guitar every once in a while to try out new chords and riffs: "I'm always looking for the creative spark. Always."

sc / gsw (dpa)

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