The guitarists Eric Clapton and Jimmy Page were born just a few years apart at the same area in England back in the 40s. Both musicians were hugely influenced by the Blues when they were going and they ended up during different eras being part of The Yardbirds, that was one of the most influential bands from the country in the 60s.
Clapton left the group to play the Blues with John Mayall and then formed Cream, mixing that music genre with a heavier sound alongside Jack Bruce and Ginger Baker. Meanwhile, Page took things to another level, when he formed The New Yardbirds that was later renamed Led Zeppelin. Both bands were crucial for the evolution of music, especially Hard Rock and Heavy Metal.
Over the decades Eric Clapton gave his opinion about many of his peers, including Led Zeppelin.
What is Eric Clapton’s opinion on Led Zeppelin
By the time Led Zeppelin released their self-titled debut album in 1969, Cream had already performed their farewell concert a few months ago in 1968. The group led by Jimmy Page was compared a lot with Cream and Jeff Beck‘s Group at the time, but they ended up being the most successful group of that genre in the 70s. Even though Eric Clapton and Jimmy Page always had a mutual respect for each other, the Cream guitarist always gave his real opinion on Zeppelin over the years.
In Led Zeppelin’s “The Definitive Biography” book, Clapton was quoted as saying that: “They were very loud. I thought it was unnecessarily loud. I liked some of it; I really did like some of it. But a lot of it was just too much. They overemphasized whatever point they were making, I thought.”
Eric Clapton believes that Led Zeppelin filled the void left by Cream but didn’t like the way they went
Since Cream mixed the Blues with Rock and Roll and made the music a little heavier for it’s time, Clapton belives that Led Zeppelin continued what they started. But as he told Uncut in 2012, he wasn’t happy with the path that Zeppelin chose.
“There was a band called Blue Cheer, who I think were probably the originators of Heavy Metal. Because they didn’t really have traditional roots in the Blues. They didn’t have a mission. It was just about being loud.”
Eric Clapton continued:
“Cream were very loud, too. We got caught up in having huge banks of Marshall amps just for the hell of it. But we had a really strong foundation in blues and jazz. Led Zeppelin took up our legacy. But then they took it somewhere else that I didn’t really have a great deal of admiration for,” Eric Clapton said.
He said a similar thing in an interview in 1991 for the Cream documentary “Strange Brew” (Transcribed by Rock and Roll Garage).
“I think (Cream) was one of the early Heavy Metal bands probably, without knowing it. Because when we disbanded Cream and we weren’t around anymore, Led Zeppelin filled that void. They became the first kind of official Heavy Metal band. So maybe Cream was forerunner of that,” Eric Clapton said.
Jimmy Page said that Eric Clapton is a very “tasteful player” and a master of the Blues guitar
Jimmy Page was very busy at the time and didn’t had the chance to see Clapton with the groups he had at that time. In an interview with Ritchie Yorke in 1969, quoted on the band’s “The Definitive Biography” book, Page talked about not being able to see him. “He’s a very tasteful player. I haven’t seen him play since the John Mayall days. I didn’t see Cream, I didn’t see Blind Faith shows. That day is over, isn’t it? Everybody says so.”
However, Page was able to see Clapton performing with John Mayall in the mid-60s and even had the chance to hang out with him after the show. The musician recalled that experience on a post on his social networks in 2020.
“On this day in 1965, I went to see John Mayall & the Bluesbreakers at the Pontiac Club in Putney, London. It showcased Eric Clapton’s magnificent mastery of the blues guitar. Eric came to stay at my home in Epsom that night. I had told him about the recordings and guitar sound I was getting from my Simon recorder.”
Jimmy Page continued:
“We played together and tracks surfaced on the ‘Blues Anytime’ series on Immediate Records. I went on to produce ‘I’m Your Witchdoctor’ and ‘Telephone Blues’ with Mayall and Clapton. As well as ‘Sitting on Top of the World’ and ‘Double Crossing Time,’” Jimmy Page said.
He also admired what Clapton had done in The Yardbirds, as he told Cameron Crowe in 2000. He said that the musician set a “heavy precedent” to the band, that was really hard to follow. The group made history creating classic songs such as “Heart Full of Soul” and “For Your Love”.