I came home from New York with my Jimmy Page pictorial autobiography,Jimmy Page by Jimmy Page, and my wife picked it up. It’s a big book, and heavy, but beautifully laid out with high quality paper and exquisite pictures throughout. She started nosing through the book, and next thing she is asking questions about Page, looking him up in Wikipedia to see his marital history and does he have kids. You need to understand, she usually rolls her eyes at my Led Zeppelin habit, and has never shown any interest in anything Led Zeppelin related. But here she was keeping me from my Jimmy Page book.
It’s not a cheap book, retailing for $70+ up here in Canada, I bought it for $50 at Jimmy Page’s Q&A in New York last week. But it’s not a book you’ll ever look at and think, “why did spend so much on this?” It’s a beautiful book, it really is. It weighs about as much as a Datsun, the lettering on the cover is gold inlay and the paper photographic quality. It may be a bit steep for a book, but it’s good value for the money.
But the real magic happens when you open it up. Page one, 10 or 12-year old Jimmy Page as a choir boy, and the caption “it might get loud.” It did. The last page is a now famous shot of Page by his friend Ross Halfin, grey haired and holding his guitar in front of him. “It might get louder.”
In between choir boy and mature gentleman, between loud and louder, is more than 500 pages of pictures, telling the story of the musical life of Jimmy Page. Playing his guitar outside his school, his earliest bands, his session days. And look at the pose on his schoolboy picture, or on his knees playing for Neil Christian and the Crusaders. He had those Jimmy Page moves long before anyone called him “Jimmy F-in Page.” Onward to the Yardbirds, then Led Zeppelin. Onstage, backstage, leaping through the air and tuning his guitars behind and amp, massive crowd in the background. All minimally captioned, walking you through the story, but letting the pictures do the yeoman’s work, the captioned merely filling in the details.
Open Jimmy Page by Jimmy Page to any page, and you’ll find a picture to enjoy. And if you don’t happen to like any of the pictures on that page, try the next one, it’s sure to have something. So many of the pictures are excellent, so many interesting. There’s very few you won’t study a bit, absorb the story it tells. Page reportedly spent a lot of time tracking down pictures and it shows. If you’re a Led Zeppelin fan, you’ll have seen many of them, but never in this detail, not in this quality. And there are plenty others that you’ve never seen, won’t see outside of this book.
If there’s one thing missing, considering he does refer to it as an autobiography, it’s any pictures of Page when he’s not, in one way or another, at work. There’s no pictures of any of his children (or his granddaughter for that matter) and only one of any of his wives, a fairly well known shot of he and Charlotte Martin exiting a helicopter backstage at Knebworth in 1979. This book is strictly about Jimmy Page, musician.
Jimmy Page by Jimmy Page, the pictorial autobiography of the Led Zeppelin guitarist is, simply put, an excellent book.