On September 18th, 1970, a light was switched off when Jimi Hendrix tragically passed away—there’ll never be another bulb that comes along to replace him which shines quite as brightly. The whole music community were beside themselves when he passed, even those who weren’t friendly with him like Led Zeppelin, who were stricken with grief.
Just four years before his death, Hendrix took up the offer from The Animals’ bassist and moved to the swinging scene in London, where he signed a management and production contract with him and Animals manager Michael Jeffery. Chandler immediately began recruiting members for a band that would get the best out of Hendrix’s insane ability, and the Jimi Hendrix Experience was born.
Hendrix’s sharp rise to fame led to an even fiercer escalation in personal problems, and his life would tragically end in 1970 after choking on his own vomit. Despite only having a handful of years as a known talent, Hendrix conquered more in that time of note than most artists do in their lifetime, but his life is a warning sign about the gruesome side of fame.
Everybody who’d ever listened to a Hendrix record entered a state of mourning when they heard the news that he’d passed away. However, moments after Zeppelin discovered Hendrix died, Robert Plant and Jimmy Page had to deal with a roomful of media who didn’t seem overwhelmed by the occasion.
“Well, I didn’t know anything about it until half an hour ago, and I’m still stumbling around trying to believe that it happened,” a visibly shocked Robert Plant replies when asked at a press conference for his thoughts on Hendrix’s passing. “It’s a tragedy,” Jimmy Page added.
There was a severe lack of empathy in the room, and remembering Hendrix for his talent wasn’t the first thing on the media’s agenda. The hyenas surrounding Plant and Page probed them on whether their songs advocate using drugs after it had been rumoured narcotics played a part in the guitarist’s death. However, one journalist got meta by asking how the duo views the media’s condemnation of drug culture and how they often revelled in premature deaths of stars such as Hendrix. “That’s been put in people’s minds from media that get through to a lot of people through press, and television, and things like that,” Page mused.
“As soon as one person on the rock scene makes an example out of himself, I think the usual thing from everybody is to attach that to everybody else in the business. Therefore, the whole thing becomes quite warped,” the singer thought-provokingly added.
Page then intervenes, “I’d like to say, what about Judy Garland or Edith Piaf? Or people like that, who are supposed to appeal to the older generation? I’m sure there’s some tie-up there with drugs, isn’t there?” the guitarist chuckled.
The same journalist again then finally asks about their memories of Hendrix and what he meant to the pair. “Brilliant,” Plant says with a smile. “He was completely fresh when he came along. ‘Hey Joe’ was the first record I ever heard, and the atmosphere on the record is something that you can rarely capture on wax. It was an incredible sound.”
The interview is, at points, invasive, but Led Zeppelin handled the situation admirably despite clearly struggling to cope with the news of the greatest guitarist ever to live passing away in such tragic circumstances.
It’s a testament to both Robert Plant and Jimmy Page that they successfully managed to deliver a poignant tribute to Hendrix when the media in the room are baying for their blood in an attempt to paint rock music as the mortal enemy of society. Page’s point regarding the widespread use of drugs in other entertainment areas is a valid point that beautifully silenced rock music critics in the room.
Hendrix is a talent that will simply never be replaced, and even Jimmy Page has later gone on record to describe him as “the greatest” guitarist ever. Seeing the Led Zeppelin duo’s immediate reaction to his death shows just how much his death was felt by everybody who’d even shared the briefest encounter with Hendrix.