Jimmy Page: Led Zeppelin reissues proof band was an 'awesome foursome'

Legendary guitar player Jimmy Page talked about Led Zeppelin's reissue campaign in New York City on...

Legendary guitar player Jimmy Page talked about Led Zeppelin's reissue campaign in New York City on Wednesday May 14, 2014. Craig Robertson/QMI Agency

John Kryk, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 4:37 PM ET

NEW YORK - None of the members of Led Zeppelin ever has been shy about reinforcing the band's place in rock history.

Singer Robert Plant in 1975 famously opined, "It's not only that we think we're the best group in the world, it's just that in our minds we're so much better than whoever is No. 2."

In an interview on Wednesday morning with QMI Agency in a lower Manhattan hotel, guitarist Jimmy Page time and again paid homage to the Mighty Zep, almost as a disassociated admirer would.

"It is an awesome foursome -- that's what it is," Page said while discussing reissues of the band's first three of nine studio albums, which go on sale June 3.

"You get that all the way through these releases."

Deluxe editions of Led Zeppelin I, II and III will contain a companion disc boasting alternate versions and, in the case of III, a newly discovered unreleased track: an ad-hoc acoustic blues number.

In addition to CD, Atlanta/Swan Song also is releasing these dual offerings on vinyl and digital download. A "Super Deluxe Boxed Set" of each will contain all sonic formats plus a hardbound, 70-plus page commemorative photo book of the band circa the album's release, plus a print of the album cover.

Page was the one who formed the band in summer 1968, after the dissolution of the last incarnation of the Yardbirds, in which he was a key figure. Page had a specific aim, and sound, in mind with the new band tentatively dubbed The New Yardbirds.

"I knew I was trying to get a vehicle whereby I could really do all this showcase guitaring," Page said.

For decades Page has said that the four members -- Page, Plant, bassist/keyboardist John Paul Jones and late drummer John Bonham -- knew almost instantaneously the first time they played together in August 1968 that they'd hit on something special. Something dynamic beyond any of their expectations.

Page had invited Jones to join, as both were long-time fellow session musician on the London scene. Then Page found Plant out in the English hicks, and it was Plant who suggested his old friend, Bonham, as drummer.

"I can tell you right now," Page said, "that even from that first rehearsal -- we only had, like, half an hour to rehearse in this place -- we just knew straight away that that was it … It was the opportunity for everybody to really flex their muscles, musically, in such a way that we could play in a band as well."

Each of the four Zeppelinites is remembered as one of the most dynamic at his craft in rock history. No one more so than Bonham, who died of asphyxiation in 1980, after a night of drinking shortly before an autumn tour of the United States.

Prior to joining Led Zeppelin, "Bonzo" had never been in a popular band -- mostly just wanna-be bands in the Midlands. His precision pounding, foot-pedal proficiency and creativity on Led Zeppelin I astounded aficionados.

"John Bonham had never had a chance to play like that in any band that he'd been in before," said Page, now 70.

The band broke up three months after Bonham's death, as the three survivors knew there was no way they would ever be the same without Bonham's integral percussion.

In reference to the new, sizzling, alternate take of the Led Zeppelin III blues-belter Since I've Been Loving You, Page said: "This is just sheer energy. And it's just the four of us together.

"It's just undeniable, isn't it? The energy and passion on it."

Twitter: @JohnKryk

john.kryk@sunmedia.ca


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