Why Jimmy Page’s Guitar-Playing Is ‘The Toughest to Copy,’ According to Joe Bonamassa

Jimmy Page remains a guitar icon years after Led Zeppelin’s demise. Zep never had a No. 1 single, but the band influenced countless musicians that followed them. Dave Grohl of Foo Fighters fame spent years mimicking Led Zeppelin songs in his bedroom, but guitar maestro Joe Bonamassa praised Page by saying his guitar-playing style is impossible to copy.

Led Zeppelin guitarist Jimmy Page plays during a 1975 concert in London. Page's guitar-playing style is so unique it's almost impossible to copy, according to guitar wizard Joe Bonamassa.
Led Zeppelin guitarist Jimmy Page | Michael Putland/Getty Images

Jimmy Page and Led Zeppelin found success throughout their career

Just as The Beatles started to disintegrate, Led Zeppelin rose to prominence and joined the Rolling Stones as one of the dominant bands in English rock. Zeppelin never had a No. 1 single (perhaps because the band refused to trim down “Stairway to Heaven” to single-length), but you can’t argue they weren’t successful. 

Zep placed three singles in the top 20 of the Billboard hot 100 and sent five albums to No. 1. The band could have had five consecutive No. 1 albums (Led Zeppelin II through Physical Graffiti) if not for two albums that prevented Led Zeppelin IV from reaching the top spot. (In Through the Out Door hit No. 1 in 1979).

Page didn’t self-identify as the greatest guitar player ever (he nominated another classic rock icon), so others had to do it for him. Joe Bonamassa, who is no slouch on guitar himself, said Page’s reputation as an inaccurate guitar player is unwarranted and that his style is almost impossible to copy.

Joe Bonamassa said Jimmy Page is almost impossible to copy

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If you listen carefully (we strongly recommend headphones) to many Led Zeppelin songs, you can hear some mistakes come through the speakers. You can’t really call them mistakes since Page, who was also Zep’s recording engineer, didn’t mind leaving them in.

Perhaps because of his willingness to keep the flaws alongside the gems, Page earned a reputation as an inaccurate guitar player. Fellow guitar wizard Joe Bonamassa said nothing could be further from the truth. According to Bonamassa (via YouTube), Page’s style is so unique that it sounds sloppy, but it’s actually impossible to copy:

“Page arguably is the toughest to kind of copy the sound [because] he had these kind of wacky slurs and things that he would do. In some circles, it’s argued he’s not a very accurate player. I disagree. He’s intrinsically very consistent, so that’s not a question of accuracy. That’s just how he plays. And one of the hardest things to do is copy those idiosyncrasies in his playing, so much so that I’m not going to bother attempting it.”

Joe Bonamassa on why Led Zeppelin’s Jimmy Page is impossible to copy

Sure, any skilled guitarist could copy the chords, but Jimmy Page has such a personal guitar style that copying his playing is nearly impossible.

What is Page’s favorite Led Zeppelin song?

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For some Led Zeppelin fans, Page’s guitar work reached its apex with the solo from “Stairway to Heaven.” The centerpiece track from Led Zeppelin IV contains what many call his signature guitar solo. He once said “Stairway” has a quality that makes it a powerful and everlasting piece, but Page has a different favorite Led Zeppelin song.

That honor goes to “Kashmir,” the centerpiece of the double-LP Physical Graffiti. It has one of Page’s most identifiable riffs, and both he and singer Robert Plant agreed “Kashmir” is the definitive Led Zeppelin song. Page and Plant weren’t alone in their “Kashmir” love. Multi-instrumentalist John Paul Jones put it on the short list of his favorite Led Zeppelin songs.

Jimmy Page’s guitar playing is nearly impossible to copy, on signature Zep track “Kashmir” and elsewhere in the band’s storied catalog.

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