You may know Jimmy Page for his work with Led Zeppelin, you may know him for his session work with Petula Clark, or you may even know him for the songs he wrote with Whitesnake’s David Coverdale (and they were very good). But he was also, for a time, lead guitarist with The Yardbirds (well, he started off on bass, but let’s not split hairs).
And so it is that the guitarist, who commonly reflects on his life’s achievements on his Facebook page, remembered The Yardbirds’ efforts to record a jingle for radio. The guitarist put up a statement on his Facebook that read: “On this day in 1966, The Yardbirds recorded a radio commercial for Great Shakes,” Page wrote. “During the course of the recording at IBC Studios in London, I discovered what Great Shakes was all about because two American people appeared from the control room, one carrying a sachet in one hand and a glass of milk in the other.” Page elaborated on the sentiment, stating that the packets in question added to the backdrop and milieu.
“The packet was torn and dispensed what appeared to be flavoured granulated sugar,” he wrote, “and probably other ingredients. It was poured into the milk, stirred up and offered round for everyone to drink. It was essential that we did this before we continued recording; apparently this was de rigueur when it came to commercials and products.” And then ruefully, he added: “It’s a pity we hadn’t done a commercial for Mercedes.”
One might easily assume that the Mercedes Benz jingle he was referring to was Janis Joplin’s now-iconic ditty about the car brand. Not only is the tune remarkably well placed in the realm of advertorial sonic craft, making it one of the most memorable jingles of all time, but it took place just three days before Joplin’s tragic death at the age of 27. ‘Mercedez Benz’ remains a classic piece of the singer’s iconography.
Page also had a full-blooded Mercedes luxury vehicle in the 1980s, picking up the AMG-W126 shortly after the band’s final breakup. So he may have held some deeper affection for the brand than we think. However, given that he’s owned a variety of supercars, we can probably shelve that notion.
Clearly, Page’s sorry that he didn’t write a jingle for the German car company, but he’s hardly lacking, is he? It’s not like he can spend the money he’s made from Led Zeppelin, or used the connection to further his career. Indeed, there’s enough that could be written about his expansive trajectory, whether it’s as a live musician, session player or as a captain of the vessel that was later re-branded as Led Zeppelin.
He certainly doesn’t need anyone to tell him that Led Zeppelin were a stunning band, considering the wealth of acts – from Queen to The Darkness – that have aped their sound in the decades since the band’s dissolution. But not everyone shares the rosy view on Led Zeppelin: Vocalist Robert Plant seems happier steering his own solo career, and keyboardist John Paul Jones is happy working on a multitude of different projects that could take up an article of its own making, which leaves Page as the man who will speak on behalf of the best band of the 1970s.
He seems happy to stand by their colossal sound, their sense of brevity, purpose and to speak on behalf of the excitingly diverse albums that have launched from their orbit. Indeed, the guitarist has many things to be justifiably proud of, but it’s nice to know that he too has some regrets in life.