This is the classic Led Zeppelin riff that Jimmy Page did not write
Jimmy Page is one of the most masterful and inventive guitar players of all time. The musician, with his innovation, would go on to change the way that the instrument would be played in the future. However, even Page was guilty of a little creative borrowing over the years and one prominent Led Zeppelin riff lasts as the perfect example.
Page’s Les Paul playing skills remain nothing short of iconic. His legendary solos would shame the rest of the rock community into trying to step up to his level and, admittedly, most other guitarists were not even fit to lace up the Led Zeppelin man’s boots.
Having recently focused on the guitarists best 10 riffs, we’re focusing on more detail at the entry occupying the number two spot on the list which is the glorious ‘Black Dog’. Despite Page’s expert playing, the iconic riff was actually written by Page’s bandmate John Paul Jones.
The description that we gave of Page’s powerful performance on the track reads: “This is Led Zeppelin at their 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.”
However, this genius was largely John Paul Jones’ creation, rather than Page. The guitarist was busier on production duties during the making of this track but without this smattering of erudite flair on Jones’ behalf who knows if we would still be discussing the track in such detail almost 50 years on.
John Paul Jones was said to be inspired in writing this riff by Muddy Waters’ controversial 1968 album Electric Mud. He added a winding riff and complex rhythm changes, that biographer Keith Shadwick describes as a “clever pattern that turns back on itself more than once, crossing between time signatures as it does.”
Page would later somewhat try to debunk these claims that Jones was the mastermind behind ‘Black Dog’ some years on whilst he was in conversation withAll The Songs, stating: “We were always trying to encourage him to come up with bits and pieces, so to speak. Because that’s what they usually were — he never came up with a complete song or anything.”
Listen to ‘Black Dog’ below which catches Zeppelin firing on all cylinders.