“I believe every guitar player inherently has something unique about their playing. They just have to identify what makes them different and develop it.” — Jimmy Page
Guitar players don’t come much more symbolic than Led Zeppelin’s own Jimmy Page, so if he is prepared to give you his personal stamp of approval as being a God-tier guitarist, then you’re certainly doing something right. We are looking at some people that the former Led Zeppelin impresario considers some of the best to have ever picked up the instrument. What’s more, we’re adding a little education in, too, by bringing you a playlist of Page’s favourites. It makes for an awe-inspiring list of players.
The ’60s reimagined what playing the guitar could be. After the rock and roll sling of the fifties, the guitar took on a new role in the new decade. Countless players grabbed the instrument with gusto and experimented with its sound. Naturally, a gifted session musician and utter devotee to the craft, Page was at the forefront of changing the perception of what the instrument was capable of.
Thanks to a swarm of innovative guitarists who took inference from the blues movement, the musicians of the day managed to move the sound onto that next level as guitar playing reached a new and previously unfathomable zenith. But who would Page say was the greatest player of all time? Who tipped the scales among a generation of sensational guitarists and maybe even influenced his own playing?
Page was speaking to Rolling Stone in 1975 when he discussed which guitar players inspired him, a conversation which also saw him reflect on that dynamic London scene in which he cut his teeth in the ’60s. Working as a session musician mixing with the Crème De La Crème that the capital had to offer, Page gained a reputation as a serious player, but he was among many others too, many of which he would call his favourite players.
Reminiscing on who he considered the most vibrant talents to have been born out of that legendary scene which remains still incredibly revered all these years on, Page said: “Out of all the guitarists to come out of the sixties, though, Beck, Clapton, Lee, Townshend and I are still having a go. That says something. Beck, Clapton and I were sort of the Richmond/Croydon type clan, and Alvin Lee, I don’t know where he came from, Leicester or something like that. So he was never in with it a lot. And Townshend, Townshend was from Middlesex and he used to go down to the clubs and watch the other guitarists.”
This is an interesting statement from the Led Zeppelin guitarist as it offers an insight into his viewpoint on just who he thought of as the most talented guitarists. The players whom he respected and also the statement also sees him throw a compliment to Pete Townshend despite The Who man being an outspoken critic of Led Zeppelin over the years. However, none of the aforementioned names, though likely some of Page’s favourite contemporaries, could match some players.
Speaking on that topic, Page had this to say: “We’ve lost the best guitarist any of us ever had and that was Hendrix. The other guitarist I started to get into died also, Clarence White. He was absolutely brilliant. Gosh. On a totally different style—the control, the guy who played on the Maria Muldaur single, ‘Midnight at the Oasis’. Amos Garrett. He’s Les Paul oriented and Les Paul is the one, really. We wouldn’t be anywhere if he hadn’t invented the electric guitar. Another one is Elliot Randall, the guy who guested on the first Steely Dan album. He’s great. Band-wise, Little Feat is my favourite American group.”
However, there is one word which Page would never use to describe the guitar Gods, adding: “The only term I won’t accept is ‘genius’. The term ‘genius’ gets used far too loosely in rock and roll. When you hear the melodic structures of what classical musicians put together and you compare it to that of a rock and roll record, there’s a hell of a long way rock and roll has to go.
“There’s a certain standard in classical music that allows the application of the term ‘genius’, but you’re treading on thin ice if you start applying it to rock and rollers.”
The former Led Zeppelin man is certainly a figure who can speak with a wealth of authority on this topic and can anybody really argue with Jimi Hendrix being the best guitarist of all time? Find below a complete list of Jimmy Page’s favourite guitar players of all time as well as an introductory playlist too.
Jimmy Page’s favourite guitarists:
- Jimi Hendrix
- Jeff Beck
- Eric Clapton
- Alvin Lee
- Pete Townshend
- Amos Garrett
- Elliot Randall
- Clarence White