Jimmy Page has never been known for his humility; considering he’s one of the greatest rock guitarists of all time, you can’t blame him. If I’d spent most of my life touring the world with a band like Led Zeppelin, I’d be pretty convinced of my own greatness too. Throughout the 1960s and ’70s, Zeppelin were absolute titans. Famed for producing classic albums while undertaking extensive world tours, they made achieving greatness look like second nature. Today they continue to embody the very pinnacle of rock stardom. Still, many were surprised when Page named the group he believed were the “best band of all time”.
If you haven’t guessed already, Page argued that his own band, Led Zeppelin, were the ultimate rock outfit. Explaining himself, the guitarist told Uncut: “It’s really hard to say something like that and not sound conceited, but over the years, a lot of other musicians have told me they thought we were the best. I’m not talking about record sales or concert attendance, although I think we can hold our own with anyone.”
He continued: “What I mean is: when you talk about a band as a collaborative musical unit, we were the best. I am not talking about one or two genius songwriters, and everyone else tagging along. I am talking about a collection of musicians who are each at the top of their craft in their own right. In Led Zeppelin, we were exactly that.”
Page then went on to give some advice to aspiring musicians: “If you are a young musician and you want to hear how a band works well together, then we’re a pretty good blueprint. John [Paul Jones] and me. Robert [Plant] and me. John Paul Jones and John Bonham. Every combination of the quartet could bring something special.”
Robert Plant, Led Zeppelin’s charismatic frontman, wasn’t so self-congratulatory. When Page spoke to Uncut, Plant had already given an interview in which he’d said Zeppelin were just one of many pioneering rock groups of the day. Recalling his bandmate’s comments, Page said: “Robert probably said, ‘Oh, well, there were a lot of great bands,’ to that interviewer because that is the gentlemanly reply. And I agree with him: there’s a lot of absolutely fantastic music out there made by lots of different artists. But when you are talking about rock ‘n’ roll alchemy, I had to say what I thought. We were the best.”