Led Zeppelin’s Jimmy Page is a connoisseur when it comes to the DNA of rock ‘n’ roll and its purpose is in the world. After all, he’s one of its founding fathers, and there was one group he felt embodied what it “is all about”.
Page made these comments in 1986 when the cultural cache of rock ‘n’ roll had considerably less value than it had during Led Zeppelin’s heyday, and many felt as though its time had been and gone. In truth, the guitarist could be accused of entering nostalgia act territory by this point, but he still felt like there was one band keeping the candle alive.
Led Zeppelin had split up six years prior, following the tragic death of John Bonham, and Page had decided to join in on the supergroup craze by forming The Firm. They only lasted two underwhelming years before going their separate ways.
During the promotional run for their final album, Mean Business, Page showered immense praise on ZZ Top after the topic of music videos was mentioned in an interview with Guitar World. He specifically highlighted his appreciation of the visuals for their track ‘Rough Boy’ and stated why he admired the group.
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“I think that’s what rock ‘n’ roll is all about,” Page effused. “So they really are incredible. They have great music, really fine playing, really solid. they have a sense of humour as well.”
He continued, “They’re damn fine. And everyone is enjoying it and they’re enjoying themselves. So as far as their videos go, every one has been a winner, hasn’t it? But I must admit I haven’t had that much to do with videos.”
The lighthearted approach that ZZ Top adopted endeared the group to Page, and he found them to be a breath of fresh air. His glorification of their work meant a lot to the band’s Billy Gibbons, who classifies the Led Zeppelin founder as one of his guitar heroes.
“Jimmy Page is one of the greatest,” he told Music Radar in 2018. “I would invite all of you readers to go check out the nightclub scene from the 1966 movie Blowup, where The Yardbirds are playing. They had Jeff Beck and Jimmy Page at the same time! Listening to the band doing ‘Train Kept A-Rollin’… it’s just ferocious. Both of those guys had tone for days.”
Admittedly, ZZ Top wasn’t a new act by any stretch of the imagination in 1986, which suggests that Page had fallen out of touch with the popular musical vernacular of the day by this point. He was still stuck in the same mindset that he had decades prior, and his career suffered a lull as a result.
ZZ Top reminded the guitarist of those great blues bands that he surrounded himself in the ’60s, and while they weren’t fresh, their rock ‘n’ roll credentials is an attribute that can’t be questioned.