With live music nothing but a distant memory amid social distancing measures, we’re celebrating quite possibly the greatest living guitarist in the entire world, Led Zeppelin’s Jimmy Page. Here, we are looking back at what granted him that title—his smart, savvy, sumptuous and powerful solos.
Exploring 10 best solos of Jimmy Page’s illustrious career with Led Zeppelin, our list includes the great, the grand, the grotesquely bloody brilliant, and there are certainly plenty to choose from. From the very beginning of his life, Page had something special. Here we show the best of it.
In all honesty, we could have extended this list to a Top 50 and still not shown you every piece of Jimmy Page’s guitar work that we love.
So instead we’re bringing you the cream fo the crop.
Jimmy Page’s 10 best guitar solos of all time:
10. ‘The Rover’ (1975)
One of Zeppelin’s most beloved song, the Kashmir track was written by both Page and Robert Plant as part of the House of the Holy sessions but only found its way on to record years later.
The track is an undoubted show of Page’s incredible ability to not only nail a particular tone or sound but to show that he’s so good he can hit them all with a degree of expertise — it really is kind of frightening.
Here he gets all melodious, enjoy:
9. ‘For Your Life’ (1976)
A song that was never performed live by the original line up sees Led Zeppelin in a foul mood. Page had just been injured in a car crash and the band were questioning their on-the-road lifestyle, particularly in reference to a friend of Plant’s who was spiralling into substance abuse.
The solo is as villainous as the lyrics and sees Page in imperious form. It’s also the first time that the guitarist would use his 1962 Fender Stratocaster on record.
8. ‘In The Evening’ (1979)
The band’s last album is certainly far from Page’s best work — the guitarist largely hung back during the recording and let Plant’s vocal range take centre stage. However, on ‘In The Evening’, he delivers some vintage Page gold.
Similarly to ‘In The Light’ Page used a cello bow on his guitar to get the legendary sound. A song that Robert Plant called a “real stomper” is always high on our list.Watch the live performance at Knebworth below and see what all the fuss was about.
7. ‘Ramble On’ (1969)
The vision for ‘Ramble On’ was one of fantasy from Robert Plant, who had become inspired by the work of J.R.R. Tolkein and makes reference with the lyrics “the darkest depths of Mordor” and “Gollum and the evil one”. It’s a section of lyrics that Plant later confessed to being embarrassed about.
One of Zeppelin’s more obviously joyous songs, the upbeat tone of the cut is perfectly complimented by Page’s silky solo which saunters in around the one minute 47-second mark. Another effervescent jangle comes through before the end which adds the perfect punctuation.
6. ‘Since I’ve Been Loving You’ (1970)
The song became a live favourite for the band, and it’s easy to see why. A highly charged eight-minute blues number was always likely to get the band up off their seats.
“Watch out!” screams Robert Plant as he makes way for the swaggering solo of one Jimmy Page. The sultry performance is only enhanced by the smoke-filled licks of Page’s sunburst Les Paul.
Saying everything you wished you could in some dynamic notes.
5. ‘Communication Breakdown’ (1969)
This is Page at his most deliberate and punchy. Delivering a short but sweet right cross that landed on most people’s chin in 1969 with a power as yet unparalleled. It does help that the song is also an early anthem of the band’s incendiary beginnings.
Explaining his technique to Guitar Player magazine in 1977, Page said: “I put it in a small room, a tiny vocal booth-type thing and miked it from a distance. You see, there’s a very old recording maxim which goes, ‘Distance makes depth.’ I’ve used that a hell of a lot on recording techniques with the band generally, not just me. You’re always used to them close-miking amps, just putting the microphone in front, but I’d have a mic right out the back, as well, and then balance the two, to get rid of all the phasing problems; because really, you shouldn’t have to use an EQ in the studio if the instruments sound right.”
“It should all be done with the microphones. But see, everyone has gotten so carried away with EQ pots that they have forgotten the whole science of microphone placement. There aren’t too many guys who know it. I’m sure Les Paul knows a lot; obviously, he must have been well into that, as were all those who produced the early rock records where there were one or two mics in the studio.”
4. ‘Whole Lotta Love’ (1969)
We couldn’t have even begun this list without the whirring sound of Led Zeppelin’s ‘Whole Lotta Love’ soundtracking our Friday evenings in the form of the Top of the Pops theme tune. It’s a track that’s ubiquitous with the effervescence of youth.
Though often more revered for Plant’s salacious lyrics, it was Page’s chugging guitar sound that has always stolen the show. It’s a riff that is filled with pure unbridled energy and buzz and leads on to a scalding hot solo that’s tore open everyone’s whoever has heard it.
3. ‘Achilles Last Stand’ (1976)
As with much of the Presence record, Jimmy Page was in a defiant mood. Unhappy with his current situation—having been hurt in a car accident—and seeing his future covered in drink and drugs, Page was in no mood to sit back and take it. He delivers some of his most impressive work on the record.
A 2007 interview with Rolling Stone magazine, revealed Page’s memories of serial over-dubbing: “It was done in one evening, the whole of the arrangement. To be honest with you, the other guys didn’t know: ‘Has he gone mad? Does he know what he’s doing?’ But at the end of it, the picture became clear. It was like a little vignette, every time something comes around.”
Acting as the strongman to Plant’s ever-imposing vocals, Page is a powerful figure on the record and his solo on ‘Achilles Last Stand’ really says it all.
2. ‘Black Dog’ (1971)
For us, this is Led Zeppelin at the magical best. While Robert Plant delivers vocal licks that would make a Nun shudder, Bonham pounds out his kit like a furious butcher, John Paul Jones brings the groove and Jimmy Page weaves a delicate tapestry of steel intertwining them all. And that’s just the first 30 seconds of 1971’s ‘Black Dog’.
The sounds at the beginning of the song are Page warming up his guitar something which he called: “Waking up the army of guitars.”
The fact that Page waits until the end of the song to deliver his crescendoing guitar solo shows what an expert eye he had for song construction. Marvel below:
1. ‘Stairway To Heaven’ (1971)
Leave us alone! Yes, it’s obvious. Yes, it’s the one Led Zeppelin song everyone knows. But there’s a reason why—it’s fucking unbelievable. A simply mind-blowing son is only given more power by Page’s masterful performance.
At this, their most treasured performance of the song at Earl’s Court in 1975, Page is sheer genius. Turning the light of the world into a powerful bolt that he shoots down with the simple change of a guitar neck.
Guitar solos? Led Zeppelin’s Jimmy Page is simply the best.