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Jimmy Page’s Secret Job on Led Zeppelin’s Early Albums



Being the PR man was about the only job Jimmy Page didn’t have in Led Zeppelin. He and the band agreed to let the music more or less speak for itself, especially when the media said the group was all hype and no substance. Once Page gave up his hidden job in Led Zeppelin, it provided more time for his guitar playing to improve, which in turn led to more stellar songs and media praise.

Jimmy Page’s secret job on the first 3 Led Zeppelin records? Help write the lyrics

Page made his name as a virtuoso guitarist, but he was a jack of all trades for Led Zeppelin.

He formed the band when the Yardbirds disintegrated by recruiting little-known English Midlands musicians Robert Plant and John Bonham. Adding multi-talented session ace John Paul Jones rounded out the membership. He produced and paid for Led Zeppelin’s first record. Page set the vision for the band by insisting each member be equally crucial to the group’s sound and success. He worked closely with the artists who designed the album covers. Aside from a couple of late-era outliers, he wrote or co-wrote all of Led Zeppelin’s songs.

Helping Plant write the lyrics was Page’s secret job on the early Led Zeppelin albums.

“I contributed to the lyrics on the first three albums, but I was always hoping that Robert would eventually take care of that aspect of the band. And by the fourth album, he was coming up with fantastic stuff. I didn’t really get involved, but [I] do remember him asking me about the bustle in your hedgerow line [in ‘Stairway to Heaven’].”

Jimmy Page to ‘Light & Shade’ author Brad Tolinski

Page was practically like Atlas lifting Led Zeppelin to the top of the rock ‘n’ roll mountain in the early days. As he told Tolinski, he helped Plant write lyrics on the first three albums. That was in addition to all his other duties to keep the band humming along. Still, even with two people working on the words, Led Zeppelin ran into plagiarism issues.


Several artists accused Led Zeppelin of ripping them off. Anne Bredon (“Babe I’m Gonna Leave You”), Willie Dixon (“Whole Lotta Love”), and Howlin’ Wolf (“The Lemon Song”) sued Led Zeppelin for copying their music or lyrics. And since Page took care to alter the music to Zep songs inspired by other artists, he blamed Plant for the lawsuits. 

For his part, Plant has been upfront about lifting some of his early lyrics. He admitted he stole Dixon’s words and Steve Marriott’s vocal delivery on “Whole Lotta Love.” Plant once said he wished he had written Robert Johnson’s “squeeze my lemon” lyrics first. He had to settle for using them in two Led Zeppelin songs — “The Lemon Song” and their version of Johnson’s “Travelling Riverside Blues.”

Plant eventually moved beyond copying lyrics and started writing gems on his own. Led Zeppelin songs such as “Tangerine,” “The Battle of Evermore,” “Stairway to Heaven,” “Kashmir,” and “Achilles Last Stand” found the singer crafting vividly poetic lyrics of his own. It was only on the earliest Led Zeppelin records that he needed Jimmy Page to do his secret job and help with the words.

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Source: Cheat Sheet


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