Jack White is arguably the most outstanding guitar technician of the modern age — a creative who has been on a one-man mission to keep the rock ‘n’ roll dream alive. It’s been over 20 years since The White Stripes released their debut album, a moment that allowed White to live out his childhood dream of being a rock star.
Another moment that we bet set his soul on fire was being talked through how to play ‘Kashmir’ alongside Led Zeppelin’s guitar wizard Jimmy Page and U2’s The Edge. It has to be a highlight for White’s entire career, if not his entire life.
“They are an immovable force in music,” Jack White once said while professing his love for Led Zeppelin. “I don’t trust anyone who doesn’t like them.” In 2019, the former White Stripes man even shared a playlist of his ten favourite Zeppelin songs that he filled with the deepest cuts. His playlist includes alternate mixes of ‘Two Ones Are Won (Achilles Last Stand)’ and ‘St. Tristan’s Sword’, as well as ‘The Girl I Love She Got Long Black Wavy Hair’ and ‘Traveling Riverside Blues’, taken from sessions that Zep carried out for the BBC.
Surprisingly, ‘Kashmir’ didn’t get on the playlist. Considering how starry-eyed Jack White seemed in Jimmy Page’s company, it really does defy belief. As Page talked him and The Edge through how he created the riff for the song, White looks like a kid in a candy store. Page speaks about how the tuning was the key and how he almost tuned the instrument as you would with a sitar, providing a thrilling insight for the instrument’s purists.
Page also explains to the duo how the riff was born out of the ashes of the final seconds of ‘Swan Song’, which he decided to experiment with and eventually led to the creation of that mighty riff. It is firmly placed in the pantheon of rock’s most luxurious moments and rightly puts Page at the top of the rock guitar pile.
Speaking to Rolling Stone in 2012, Page confirmed that ‘Kashmir’ is Led Zeppelin’s greatest riff which few sane people could disagree with. Page, famed for his evolving blues-rock sound, said that ‘Kashmir’ “has to be the one.”
“We were doing some rehearsals, we were doing an album actually with Led Zeppelin,” Page explains to White and The Edge in the clip. “John Bonham was there, the others I don’t know where they were, they weren’t actually at the house this was at Headley Grange. I said I’d got this riff, so now I’ve turned it round, starting with the first bit first and he lays on the rhythm,” Page says before delivering a rendition of the track.
Led Zeppelin fans don’t get much bigger than Jack White, who wouldn’t be the same person he is today if it wasn’t for being inspired into the world of rock ‘n’ roll thanks to Jimmy Page, Robert Plant, John Bonham and John Paul Jones. However, not many Led Zeppelin super fans can say that they’ve performed live with Robert Plant and has had the privilege of jamming to ‘Kashmir’ with Jimmy Page, but Jack White can.