Jimmy Page is one of the most influential and inventive guitar players in the history of music and his musical journey started in a mysterious and interesting way. At the age of 12, when his family moved to a new house at Miles Road in Surrey, England the place was empty but there was a Spanish guitar left behind probably by the previous residents and that changed not only Page’s life but the music.
He took a few lessons nearby but he learned most of it by himself over the years and of course, not much after he became one of the most famous session guitarists in London. With his experience and talent he achieved fame as a member of The Yardbirds and then a real guitar hero as the guitarist and producer of Led Zeppelin.
Over the decades the musician talked about many other incredible artists from his generation and he even mentioned a singer as phenomenal.
The singer that Jimmy Page said is phenomenal
During his career as a studio musician in the 60s, Jimmy Page had the opportunity to work with countless incredible artists like Donovan and The Who. In bands he first worked with two incredible vocalists which were Keith Relf (The Yardbirds) and Robert Plant in Led Zeppelin. However, he later also played with another singer which was Paul Rodgers, who Page said was phenomenal.
Rodgers is five years younger than Page and was born in Middlesbrough, England in 1949. He started his musical career in 1968, the year Led Zeppelin was formed. He first achieved fame as a member of Free and then with Bad Company. Page also was part of the supergroup The Firm alongside Jimmy Page in the 80s. In the last decades he also toured and recorded for a few years with Queen‘s Brian May and Roger Taylor.
In an interview with Uncut magazine in 2017, Page talked about the famous record label Swan Song, created by Led Zeppelin. Bad Company, which had Rodgers as the vocalist and was part of the label. So Jimmy talked about the band and praised him as a phenomenal singer.
“Bad Company… Bad Company was more Peter Grant’s (Led Zeppelin’s manager) thing, Peter had the Bad Company thing and put that together. That was really a great band to have on there because of Paul Rodgers, he’s phenomenal. He was then and still is,” Jimmy Page said.
Page said Paul Rodgers hasn’t lost his magic and Bad Company’s performance was “high class”
Although he is an influential singer, Paul Rodgers still wasn’t inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Free and Bad Company are still out of it. Page and Rodgers continue to be good friends and Page recalled in his social networks seeing Bad Company’s reunion show at Wembley in 2010.
“I saw Bad Company at Wembley and I went with original drummer Simon Kirk and guitarist Mick Ralphs. It was really good to hear those guys going through their paces and Paul Rodgers’ performance was high class. He hasn’t lost his magic,” Jimmy Page said.
How Paul Rodgers convinced Jimmy Page to play guitar again
After Led Zeppelin came to an end in 1980 due to John Bonham’s tragic death at the age of 32, Jimmy Page focused on other things like movie scores. But in 1984, he was convinced by Paul Rodgers to play the guitar again. They eventually formed the supergroup The Firm, which besides the two legendary musicians also had the drummer Chris Slade (Tom Jones, David Gilmour, AC/DC) and bassist Tony Franklin (Roy Harper, Whitesnake, Kate Bush).
In an interview with Howard Stern (Transcribed by Rock and Roll Garage) in 2023, Paul Rodgers recalled how he convinced Page to get back in the studio and stage again. “When Mick (Ralphs) and I decided that the band was going to be called Bad Company and we had a bunch of songs together, a friend of mine worked with Led Zeppelin. He came around to visit me in my cottage in the country. He said ‘You guys should call Peter Grant’. So I sad ‘Well, ok. I mean, I don’t think that the manager of the biggest band in the world is going to want to talk to me. But I’ll give him a call.”
“So I called him up and I said ‘Hello Peter, I got a band here. Are you interested?’ He said: ‘Well, I’m interested in you’. So I said to him: ‘Well, there’s four of us and we are called Bad Company, that’s like it. He said: ‘Well, I don’t know about the name’ (laughs). Mick and I were determined that was going to be called Bad Company. We thought it was like the perfect name for a band. So we stuck to our guns and Peter became our manager.”
“He brought us to America and actually Led Zeppelin themselves were very, very good to us, I must say. We were the first ones (to be signed) on the new label Swan Song. They introduced us formally actually to America. It was just so great because we were kind of nobody at that point. It was just so great to have somebody so monstrous, monstrously big in the world of Rock and Roll to introduce us to the American people.”
“When John Bonham, very sadly, he died. It was a real shock to the system. At that point I decided I didn’t want to tour with Bad Company anymore and I sat back from that. Led Zeppelin basically stopped working because Jimmy just didn’t wanna play. He didn’t play for two years. After that Jimmy called me up and said (I’m going there to see you). When Jimmy was coming around all the people that are around him you know, his roadie and his driver and everybody just said ‘Whatever you do, don’t ask him to play the guitar when he gets in the studio. So as soon as he got to the studio I said: ‘Hi Jimmy, did you bring your guitar? Let’s have jam (laughs)’.”
Paul Rodgers continued:
“And they all went ‘Oh my God, shush. Don’t do that!’. But by the end of the evening I have to say he was playing and he was playing brilliantly. I think that because he was in deep mourning actually about the loss of a good friend. A great drummer and somebody that he deeply loved, he was just mourning. I thought, well the best for anybody to bring them out of a depression like that deep mourning is to do the thing you love,” Paul Rodgers said.
The Firm was active for only two years, from 1984 to 1986, releasing their self-titled album in 1985. That record had their most famous track “Radioactive”, written by Page and Rodgers. In the following year their final album “Mean Business” was released. Besides once again being produced by Jimmy and Paul, they also had the help of Julian Mendelsohn, who would in the following years with many other famous artists. Some of them were Pet Shop Boys, Liza Minelli, Dusty Springfield and Paul McCartney.