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Never one for a big media blitz, Led Zeppelin guitarist Jimmy Page has probably done more interviews in the last six weeks promoting the Zeppelin remasters and his new book, Jimmy Page On Jimmy Page, than he did throughout the entirety of the '70s. Last night, Page put the finishing touches on the promotional campaign with a private dinner at the iconic Sunset Marquis hotel, a place that has seen more rock and roll gatherings than maybe any other hotel. The evening featured so much guitar power that before we all sat down for the four-course meal, Metallica's Kirk Hammett told Billboard, "I'm one of the luckiest motherf--kers in the guitar slinger's universe."
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If ever there was an event to just sit and be a fan, it was in this intimate setting for 45 or so friends and associates of Page and the hotel. Observing the conversations as Page, Joe Perry and Chris Cornell sat side-by-side during the dinner left any music lover awestruck. At one point during a champagne reception prior to the sit-down meal Page, Hammett, Perry, Ringo Starr and Joe Walsh posed for photos together. That's like the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame all-star class. Even Hammett, who had to stop during our brief interview to take greetings from Perry, was in awe. "It's insane. I was thinking earlier, ‘How fucking lucky am I?' I really did my time in my bedroom listening to Jimmy Page on vinyl sitting there with my guitar."
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We had to get his Zeppelin memories, like the first record he picked up from the band. "I can't remember if it's Song Remains The Same or Physical Graffiti, 'cause they came out relatively the same time, in my mind," he said. "I think it was Physical Graffiti, I remember hearing it and it was incredibly different than anything else I was listening to. This was different from Elton John. That album, along with Thin Lizzy Jailbreak, ZZ Top Fandango, Lynyrd Skynyrd, One More For The Road." After the champagne reception, everyone sat down for the dinner, which began with a performance by Tyler Bryant and Graham Whitford (son of Aerosmith's Brad Whitford). Faced with the monumental task of playing an acoustic medley of Zeppelin hits in front of the man himself, the two -- who normally perform as Tyler Bryant & The Shakedown -- did an admirable job, drawing praise from Page himself.
After the dinner, Whitford and Bryant told Billboard that Page complimented their medley, which included "Stairway To Heaven" and "Nobody's Fault But Mine," among others, and asked them for a record.
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Walsh rhapsodized about Page to the room at one point. "I first met Jimmy around 1968, I would go see the Yardbirds every chance I got," he recalled. "We would see each other every now and then and talk shop. I had two Gibson Les Paul's at the time and Jimmy couldn't get one. I told him, 'I have two. I'll give you one to try out and if you like it it's yours. And that opened a big old can of whoop ass. He came back with a new band a year later and proceeded to change history." He then spoke for every musician in the room when he said, "Thank you for all the music, from all of us. Thank you for showing us how to do it." Page seemed moved by the affection in the room. "I feel totally overwhelmed, it's really touching," he said. "We're all here tonight and it's a result of Genesis Publications. They've been going 40 years and I've been going a lot longer."
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But he kept it very brief. "If I stop talking you all can eat, so I should stop talking." For fans of Zeppelin, or the Beatles, or Aerosmith, or ZZ Top, or Soundgarden, or just rock and roll, it was enough to sit in the room and soak up the history.
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