Jimmy Page is widely regarded as one of the finest guitarists of all time. His work with Led Zeppelin is so immense that it sometimes overshadows not only his work with The Yardbirds but the countless sessions he provided for reams of burgeoning musical talent in the swinging heart of London in the early sixties.
Page wasn’t just able to pull out a terrifyingly brilliant solo whenever he needed he possessed the ear of a master craftsman and made it clear that he was a guitar impresario the likes of which are rarely seen on earth. This notion can be heard more clearly when isolating Page’s guitar track.
Removing the power of John Bonham, the soaring vocals of Robert Plant and John Paul Jones’ ingrained rhythm is naturally a crime against rock and roll, in many ways. But it does allow us to get swept away by Jimmy Page’s imperious performance of Led Zeppelin’s ‘Heartbreaker’.
The track is taken from the band’s 1969 record Led Zeppelin II and is credited to all four members of the band, a remarkable feat and one that suggests an unmatchable unity within the group. It also showed the respect that each of the members of the group had for one another.
Looking around the room, seeing arguably the best musician from each of their fields, must have been an emboldening experience. It’s one that Jimmy Page took to new levels on ‘Heartbreaker’.
The track begins with a simply iconic riff. The chugging sound is perfectly summed up by legendary producer Rick Rubin who has previously remarked, “One of the greatest riffs in rock. It [‘Heartbreaker’] starts, and it’s like they don’t really know where the “one” is. Magical in its awkwardness.” Awkward as it may be, there was nothing awkward about one particularly joyous part of the song; Page’s solo.
The solo was a spontaneous performance and attached to the track unaccompanied, given its own room to breathe and it is sensational. The guitarist explained to Guitar World in 1998: “The interesting thing about the solo is that it was recorded after we had already finished ‘Heartbreaker’ – it was an afterthought. That whole section was recorded in a different studio and it was sort of slotted in the middle.”
The solo would go on to inspire thousands of people to pick up a guitar, including Eddie Van Halen who was inspired by the solo in particular. Van Halen is just one of many guitarists inspired by Jimmy Page, below you will get a glimpse of why.