Jimmy Page and Neil Young
With the announcement yesterday of next year's inductees into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame (major congratulations to inductee Graham Nash & The Hollies!!!), we thought it would be nice to rewind to one of the most epic post-ceremony jams of all time.
If you have not seen this clip of Jimmy Page and Neil Young dueling on Led Zeppelin's "When The Levee's Gonna Break" you must really do so. A bit of history was made on the evening that Neil Young was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame on January 13, 1995. After the induction ceremony, Young joined Led Zeppelin onstage for an all out guitar showdown with Jimmy Page. Performing a 10 minute "When The Levee's Gonna Break", Page and Young traded licks in what turned out to be a remarkable moment in TV rock. Even jaded guitar masters were slack jawed.
Robert Plant segues into the Buffalo Springfield classic "For What It's Worth" at one point (6:35). Not to be outdone, Robert Plant picked up a guitar and began to jam with the guitar greats and seemed to be having the time of his life hopping and twirling about.
Towards the end at about 7:30, after seemingly endless jamming and soloing between the two guitar legends, a clearly exhausted Jimmy Page drops his hands from his guitar as if to concede defeat by Young. At the conclusion of the song, Page and Plant hugged Young as they left the stage. Just before the camera cuts, one can see Page patting Neil's amplifier as if to say, "You've got a hell of a sound from your equipment."
Later in 1995, Neil Young wrote the song "Downtown" (on the "Mirror Ball" album) about that historic night in New York City. From the lyrics "Downtown":
- Jimi's playin' in the back room
Led Zeppelin on stage
There's a mirror ball twirlin'
And a note from Page
Like a water-washed diamond
In a river of sin
Goin' down like a whirlpool
When you get sucked in
Let's go downtown
In Jimmy McDonough's biography of Neil Young "Shakey", Neil said of Page's work: "I'm a hack compared to him. He can really play." No word yet on what Robert Plant and Jimmy Page thought of the night.
But McDonough continues in the biography "Shakey" to let Neil know of his displeasure with the pairing. From MOG: These Amps Go To 12 by Jonh Ingham:
[McDonough] couldn't understand why his hero should play with the group; from his writing he obviously thought they weren't worthy to share the stage. Which only shows the limitations of a fan. When your hero's nom-de-guitar is The Volume Dealer it would be more surprising if he didn't want to get on stage with guys he's probably studied for pointers since Page first surfaced in The Yardbirds.
Admittedly, when your hear an audio version of the meeting, it can be hard to discern just what's going on. But this video really lays it out. Neil makes all the noise while Page is happy to just crunch down on the riff and wring every last ounce of weight from it. The best bit for me is when Plant decides to join in and straps on another Les Paul and starts to create havoc with one note.
McDonough was most outraged that Plant started to sing the Buffalo Springfield song 'For What It's Worth', which all trufans know was a Stephen Stills song. I'm guessing that in the heat of the moment, '60s West Coast fan Plant wasn't thinking about who wrote what song. Or maybe he was just commenting on what was happening on stage."
Finally, on Led Zeppelin's 2004 Double DVD it is interesting to note Robert Plant's spontaneous incorporation of a few lines from Neil Young's 'Down by the River' and 'On the Way Home' during the epic song 'How Many More Times.'
Led Zeppelin & Neil Young at Rock & Roll Hall of Fame 1995
More on other musicians who have jammed with Neil Young.