Saturday, May 10, 2014

Berklee College of Music President Roger H. Brown's speech honoring Jimmy Page

Check out the Steve Vai quote in the third paragraph!

May 10, 2014
Roger H. Brown:

Jimmy Page, the founder of Led Zeppelin, is one of the most celebrated guitarists in all of rock history. He got his start as a guitarist in the 1960s, working on hit records with many well-known acts. He later become a member of The Yardbirds, the group remembered as the training ground for the triumvirate of British guitar heroes: Jimmy Page, Eric Clapton and Jeff Beck.

1968: Jimmy Page formed Led Zeppelin and shook the world with ten studio albums and more than a dozen years of international touring. The band’s sound was fueled by Jimmy’s ingenious and multi-faceted guitar playing, songwriting and studio production. Robert Plant’s inimitable vocals — although I think we did a pretty good job last night — John Bonham’s thundering drumming style and John Paul Jones’ multi-instrumental skills. For decades, Jimmy has ranked in the upper reaches of countless lists of best guitarists. His guitar style has been imitated by six-stringers across the globe, and a few twelve-stringers. I can say with reasonable confidence, that at this very moment, there is at least one guitarist somewhere in the world, in a music store, playing Stairway To Heaven.
Jimmy’s influence on two generations of guitarists is immeasurable. Nigel Tufnel, lead guitarist for Spinal Tap, sounding a bit dazed and confused when asked for a quote, said “Jimmy who?” Meanwhile, Nigel’s acquaintance, Berklee trustee Christopher Guest asserted “There is no way to exaggerate the impact Jimmy Page has had on rock and roll. Every guitar player since owes him a debt of gratitude. A sublime player and a worthy icon.” Fellow guitar hero and Berklee alumnus Steve Vai says that Jimmy, quote, get ready for this one, “In the physical universe there are objects that include suns, planets, all life and matter and all dimensions. And then there’s the space where all these things exist. That space is the vital element. For virtually every kid since 1968 who picked up a guitar to find his voice on the instrument, Jimmy Page has been the space that enables all our notes to be played.”

Aerosmith bassist and local rock hero Tom Hamilton adds “I’ll never forget the first time I heard that first Zeppelin album. It sounded so powerful. Every instrument came roaring out of the speakers with thickness and clarity. Jimmy’s combination of blues and celtic folk gave birth to the two-headed snake that has been injecting us with his delicious venom for decades.”

Upon learning that Jimmy would be with us here today, Wayne Sermon, a recent Berklee graduate who is the guitarist for the Grammy-winning band Imagine Dragons, said “I can think of no-one more deserving of this honour than Jimmy Page. He has shaped the landscape of rock more than any guitarist on the planet. He will forever be a legend.”

Jimmy has the distinction of being inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame twice: In 1992 for his work with The Yardbirds and ’95 with Led Zeppelin. In 2005 Jimmy was named to the Order of the British Empire by Queen Elizabeth II for his charitable work on behalf of impoverished children in Brazil. Jimmy and Led Zeppelin have been recognised with numerous prestigious awards, including America’s Kennnedy Center Honors in 2011.

And so, with the massive impact of his musical contributions for the direction of rock and roll, I’m pleased to present Berklee’s honorary doctorate of music degree to the man the British magazine Uncut has called “rock’s greatest and most mysterious guitar hero” Jimmy Page.

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