Biography / Karen / Nonfiction

Jimmy Page: The Definitive Biography by Chris Salewicz

Many, many books have been written about Led Zeppelin, one of the most popular bands in the history of rock and roll. And many of these books were written specifically about Jimmy Page. This is understandable as he was the founder of the group, as well as the producer of all of their albums.

I have read many, many books about Led Zeppelin, some of them dry and factual. Others were more tell-all and of course more fun. This new one falls somewhere in-between. All four members of the band were fiercely private, and have often denied the information that has been written about them. Or, say they do not remember a certain episode.

Author Chris Salewicz spent a long time writing this 520-page book, and shows much respect for Page. Much of the book is devoted to how Jimmy Page became the rock god that 50 years has not changed. First, he describes Page’s years as a highly sought after sessions musician, playing on some well-known artists’ songs. He talks about his years with the Yardbirds, and how through all of those touring years he was basically learning every aspect of the music business so that when the Yardbirds broke up, he would be ready to create the best band ever. And many think he did. Page carefully cultivated exactly what he wanted: a singer that loved the blues, a drummer that pounded harder and faster than anyone else, and a well-known bass player. And that is what he got.

The middle of the biography contains what most of us want to know: are the stories of sex, drugs & rock and roll true? Any biography you read about the 70s says it is. But we want specifics, and Salewicz gives us what we want while at the same time being respectful of this band. Not an easy task.

Finally, the last third of the book is devoted to Jimmy Page’s life following the break-up of Led Zeppelin after the tragic death of drummer John Bonham. In my opinion, this is the best part of the biography because this author captures Jimmy Page the human who almost, but not quite, falls completely apart. How he has a heroin addiction to kick, where is he going musically, and what kind of a family man can he be. All fascinating stuff!

For the casual biography reader, Jimmy Page: The Definitive Biography may just be too much information on a band that broke up 40 years ago. But for die-hard Zeppelin fans – it’s great.


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