On Saturday in Boston, Jimmy Page, former guitarist of the legendary rock group Led Zeppelin, was presented an honorary doctoral degree from the Berklee College of Music. He also spoke, giving the commencement address at the private college to the practically 900 graduates there.
Also on Saturday, Berklee College gave honorary doctoral degrees to musical educator and jazz pianist Geri Alen, Valerie Simpson (Motown R&B songwriter), and Thara Memory, the youth jazz orchestra founder of the American Music Program.
Before Jimmy Page joined Led Zeppelin, he was a guitarist for another legendary English rock band, The Yardbirds. He’d been offered the job a few times previously to when he joined the group, but he suggested, instead, his friend Jeff Beck would be perfect for them. When he did join The Yardbirds in the late 1960s, Page started off playing electric bass, then he shared twin lead guitar duties with with Jeff Beck before he eventually joined Led Zeppelin.
Led Zeppelin, still much beloved by its fans, combined elements of R&B, the blues, and rock ‘n’ roll for a blend that was classified by some people as being heavy metal. While Led Zeppelin could definitely rock out, however, their style of music wasn’t what most people today would probably think of as being heavy metal. Known for such iconic rock songs as “Stairway to Heaven”, “No Quarter,” “Dazed and Confused,” “Whole Lotta Love,” “You Shook Me,” “Moby Dick,” “The Song Remains the Same,” “Kashmir,” and “Black Dog,” Led Zeppelin disbanded in 1980 following the untimely death of their drummer, John Boham. Bonham’s son, Jason, has played drums for them when they have reunited for one-of appearances or performances, like in London in 2007.
While there have been numerous rumors as to the surviving Led Zeppelin band members reuniting and going on a world tour, either Robert Plant, the group’s lead singer, has nixed the idea or there have been other reasons which have gotten in the way of Led Zeppelin reuniting and touring.
Most recently, for example, Robert Plant squashed the suggestion from reporters by saying that tours meant that there would always be people with “vested interests,” involved. Though there were some good things to be said about “stadium rock,” as he called it in an interview with Rolling Stone magazine, there were also “sh***y,” things about it that he didn’t want any part of, at least for the time being.
Jimmy Page, however, has remained open to the possibility of Led Zeppelin going on tour again, and he had believed the group would tour following the London O2 concert in 2007. Page thought that Robert Plant was agreeable about touring following the show, also. In the interview, Jimmy Page told Rolling Stone magazine “You’ll have to ask Robert why he changed his mind.”
Many versions of Led Zeppelin’s albums have been released over the years, like remastered ones. This June 3, 2014, Led Zeppelin will release deluxe versions of the band’s first three albums, Led Zeppelin (Jan. 1969 in the U.S.), Led Zeppelin II (Oct. 1969), and Led Zeppelin III (Oct. 1970).
Jimmy Page has been a musical force and inspiration to countless rock guitarists for decades. He was named the 3rd best guitarist in rock history by Rolling Stone magazine, and he was named #2 on Gibson’s “Top 50 Guitarists of All Time,” list (2010). The honorary doctoral degree he was awarded by Berklee College of Music is the most recent accolade this iconic rock guitar god has received, but it doubtless won’t be the last.
Written by: Douglas Cobb