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How Jimmy Page and Joe Walsh Are Both Underrated



Though they’re forever tied together because of one guitar (more on that later), most music fans wouldn’t confuse Jimmy Page and Joe Walsh. Many people considered Page one of the best guitarists of all time before he formed Led Zeppelin, and his playing only improved in the band. Walsh, famously of the Eagles, is a fine player with a niche of his own. Yet Def Leppard guitarist Phil Collen says Page and Walsh have one thing in common — they are both underrated in their own way.

How Jimmy Page and Joe Walsh are both underrated

As we mentioned, Page and Walsh occupy their own chapters in the classic rock story. 

Page was the creative force in one of the biggest bands ever. Walsh flew more under the radar, but his playing was no less impressive. In Collen’s opinion, Walsh doesn’t get enough credit as a stellar guitar player, especially his slide work.

“First off, Joe Walsh is underrated. He’s amazing. I learned to play slide guitar listening to Joe Walsh,” Collen told Detroits’ WCSX 94.7 FM. “There was a 10-minute tutorial on YouTube. It’s Joe Walsh going, ‘You should get on that guitar like this. You get this straight. I learned it from Duane Allman,’ and all of this. And it’s like, ‘Oh my God, it works. I can play slide. Thank you, Joe!’ I love his playing. He’s underrated.”

As for Page, no one really doubted his six-string skill. He served as an in-demand session guitarist before fronting the superstar guitarist factory known as the Yardbirds and guiding Led Zeppelin to international fame. Page was kind of a victim of his readily-apparent talent. His playing was so excellent and distinct that it overshadowed his other skills.

“Jimmy Page is a genius, and he’s underrated for being a composer. It’s apples and oranges. They are two very different [guitarists],” Collen said. “So, Joe Walsh is underrated as a guitar player. Jimmy Page is underrated as a composer, as an icon, as a pioneer. And there wouldn’t be so much of Joe Walsh if there weren’t people like Jimmy Page.


“Jimmy Page, there’s a real depth there, so it’s not as easy as just comparing oranges to oranges. So, it’s oranges and apples right here. So, I think they’re both underrated, but for different things.”

There you have it. Page and Walsh had a common trait of being underrated, per Collen. And he has a point.

Walsh’s work in the James Gang and Barnstorm (where he wrote “Rocky Mountain Way”) preceded his time in the Eagles. He might not be mentioned in the same breath as players like Page, Jimi Hendrix, Jeff Beck, or Eric Clapton, but rock music wouldn’t be the same without Walsh’s biggest hits. “Rocky Mountain Way,” “Life’s Been Good,” “In the City,” and “A Life of Illusion” (with its earworm of an escalating lead-in riff) were indispensable. 

Page’s playing — his memorable riffs and stellar guitar solos — was impossible to ignore. His skill as a composer was easy to overlook. Led Zeppelin songs such as “Stairway to Heaven,” “Kashmir,” and “Achilles Last Stand” were powerful tunes, sure, but also intricate and well thought out. Page put together a guitar symphony on “Ten Years Gone,” a song he called his baby since it took so much planning. 

Besides being underrated in their own ways, Page and Walsh will be forever tied together because of one guitar.

A guitar Page bought from Walsh became his favorite instrument 


Their paths rarely crossed in the late 1960s and 1970s, but Page and Walsh made the most of their minimal time together. In fact, the American guitarist made a huge impact on Led Zeppelin’s sound.

At some point (perhaps when the James Gang and Led Zeppelin played together on a festival bill near Cleveland in July 1969), Walsh sold his sunburst Gibson Les Paul to Page. That instrument quickly became the No. 1 guitar in his arsenal. Switching from the Fender Telecaster to the double humbucker pickups of the solid-body Les Paul was one of the major changes Page made before recording Led Zeppelin II. (The other was switching to Marshall amps). 

The James Gang opened for Zep on October 30, 1969, but Page had already acquired Walsh’s guitar by then. He used the Gibson exclusive on the second album, which hit record store shelves by the time of that concert. 

Besides having played the same guitar, Jimmy Page and Joe Walsh were both underrated guitar players, just in different ways. The Eagles musician never got his due as a skilled player, and Page never received recognition for his talents as a visionary composer. 

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Source: Cheat Sheet


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