By Scott T. Sterling
“Black Hole Sun,” meet “Black Dog.”
Last night (Nov. 12) in Los Angeles, recently refurbished The Theatre at Ace Hotel played host to “An Evening with Jimmy Page in Conversation with Chris Cornell,” with the two rock stars taking the stage to discuss Jimmy Page, the exhaustive new autobiography/photo book compiled by the legendary guitarist spanning his entire musical life.
The sold out crowd that filled the ornate theater looked a lot like who you’d imagine packed stadiums across the country on Led Zeppelin‘s 1977 tour, only 37 years later, many of whom brought their children and even grandchildren for a glimpse inside the life of arguably rock’s most celebrated guitarist in history.
Still every bit the consummate rock star at 70 years old, Page and the Soundgarden singer had an easy rapport onstage, with Page discussing the details behind a selection of photos from the book previously chosen by Cornell without the guitarist’s knowledge.
Moving through photos of Page’s childhood as a choirboy and in early bands before becoming one of England’s most celebrated session musicians, describing a photo of him working the late Brian Jones of the Rolling Stones on the ill-fated soundtrack to Anita Pallenberg film, A Degree of Murder, which was never officially released. Making the photo even more interesting is the fact that Page is using a violin bow on his guitar, a technique he would make famous years later on Led Zeppelin’s live renditions of the song “Dazed and Confused.”
Page delivered details of how quickly Led Zeppelin formed in the wake of his previous band, the Yardbirds, breaking up in the summer of 1968 (Cornell showed photos of Page with fellow ex-Yardbird Jeff Beck shot by the late Linda McCartney). In the time between July and the end of that year, the band came together, recorded its legendary debut album and played a series of dates, including shows opening for Vanilla Fudge. Led Zeppelin as an opening act didn’t last long, with Cornell displaying a photo taken from behind John Bonham’s drum kit of a packed L.A. Forum in 1969.
Page’s passion for the music was palpable through the conversation, with the guitarist making a point to deliver new bits of information to the crowd of diehard fans well versed in the group’s history. He spoke lovingly of his bandmates throughout, stressing how much they elevated each other both in the studio and onstage.
The fans ate it up, interrupting the conversation countless times to erupt in applause. Cornell came across as big a fan as anyone in the room, emphasizing how important Led Zeppelin’s success was in his ability to achieve rock stardom fronting Soundgarden, offering his own memories of first hearing the band on a free-form FM radio station as a kid.
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