How Keith Richards Started a Rumor About a Jimmy Page Solo Album in 1974
Guitar legends Jimmy Page and Keith Richards go back a ways. As Page recalls it, the two met long before Led Zeppelin formed — and even before the Rolling Stones existed. In those days, Page was getting his start as a session guitar player in London.
Once the Stones had officially formed, Page joined Richards and the band at a ’64 session for “Heart of Stone,” an early hit from the Richards-Mick Jagger catalog. But Page and the Stones cut a demo that day, so it wasn’t pegged for official release. (Allen Klein put it out anyway in the ’70s.)
After Page formed Led Zeppelin in ’68, his days of session work had ended. But that didn’t mean he was completely done playing with other bands. So in ’74, when he got an invite to play with Richards and Jagger, Page jumped in and played on “Scarlet,” a track finally released in July 2020.
When word leaked about the recording date, it got people wondering what these heavyweights from different bands were doing playing together. And a joke by Richards threw everyone off the scent.
Keith Richards’ joke about a Rolling Stones session with Jimmy Page sparked rumors
In 1975, Led Zeppelin was on top of the rock world and about to embark on a tour in support of Physical Graffiti. Speaking with Cameron Crowe for a Rolling Stone interview around that time, Page spoke admiringly of the Stones (and Jagger in particular).
Page also said he didn’t feel like there was competition between Zep and the Stones. They were friends, after all, and though Page didn’t mention it at first he’d just played a session with Richards and Jagger a few months earlier.
Shortly after, Crowe asked about the rumor that he was working on a solo album. “Chalk that off to Keith Richards’ sense of humor,” Page replied, before describing the “Scarlet” session. “[Richards] took the tapes to Switzerland and someone found out about them. Keith told people that it was a track from my album.”
Page couldn’t have known that the track would sit around in the vaults for another 45 years. (At the time, he thought it might come out as a Stones B-side.) But he also addressed what was at the heart of the rumor: that members of Zep might be feeling restless seven years into the ride.
Page said no member of Zeppelin needed to do a solo album
While Page always seemed to enjoy Richards’ sense of humor, he took Crowe’s inquiry as an opportunity to speak about Zep’s unity. “I don’t need to do a solo album and neither does anybody else in the band,” he said. In Page’s eyes, it came down to Zep’s band members each bringing something essential to the table.
“The chemistry is such that there’s nobody in the background who’s so frustrated that he has to bring out his own LPs,” he told Crowe. “I don’t really like doing that Townshend number of telling everybody [in The Who] exactly what to play. A group’s a group after all, isn’t it?”
Page was correct, of course. Robert Plant didn’t pull a Roger Daltrey (or John Entwistle) and make a solo album in the Zep years. Neither did John Bonham or John Paul Jones. Zep started strong in ’68 and rode it out together until the tragic end arrived in 1980.