Jimmy Page Made 2 Major Changes Before Recording ‘Led Zeppelin II’ and He Was Clearly Inspired by Them

Things happened quickly when Jimmy Page put Led Zeppelin together in the back half of 1968. Their first concerts — billed as the New Yardbirds — happened within weeks. They recorded their debut album in an astonishing amount of time and put it on shelves in early 1969. The band’s second album hit shelves less than a year after the first, despite Page making two major changes before recording Led Zeppelin II.

Jimmy Page, who made two big changes before recording 'Led Zeppelin II,' performs with Led Zeppelin around 1970.
Jimmy Page with his Gibson Les Paul | Larry Hulst/Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

The first guitar Jimmy Page used in Led Zeppelin was a gift

Page formed Led Zeppelin when his previous band, the Yardbirds, dissolved. That band’s manager asked Page for the group before the guitarist joined, but he initially declined and recommended his friend, Jeff Beck. 

Page didn’t take the job in the Yardbirds, but he didn’t walk away empty-handed. Beck gifted Page his Fender Telecaster guitar, which Page used to record Led Zeppelin’s debut album.

Unfortunately for Page, a handsy housekeeper left Page wanting to do a Pete Townshend and smash the guitar on his housesitter’s head. He didn’t get violent, but Page didn’t feel the same about the guitar after the redesign.

Page made two major changes before recording ‘Led Zeppelin II,’ and one happened because of Joe Walsh 

He became famous for playing a Les Paul and custom double-necked Gibson, but the Telecaster was the first guitar Page used in Led Zeppelin. After his housesitter repainted the Fender, though, Page desired a change.

Enter Joe Walsh. When Page retired the desecrated Telecaster, he bought the Les Paul from Walsh, who suggested it to him.

“It was the guitar I was meant to have,” Page said, per Centennial Media’s Legends of Music Spotlight: Led Zeppelin. “Joe Walsh told me I should buy the guitar. He was right. It became my wife and mistress — without the alimony.”

Page was clearly inspired by the new guitar. “Whole Lotta Love” starts the album with a classic, heavy, sinister riff. “Heartbreaker” and the incendiary solo Page played without his bandmates was the first time he used the Les Paul on record, according to Rhino Records. The band needed just one live take to put “The Lemon Song” together (though Page overdubbed his solo later).

In addition to using a new instrument, Page made another major change before recording Led Zeppelin II. He switched to using Marshall amps (JMP Super Leads, per the Marshall website), which he found more reliable.

“It was state-of-the-art reliability,” Page said, per the Legends of Music Spotlight. “They sounded great and were dependable on the road. I was always having problems with amps–fuses blowing and whatnot.”

‘Led Zeppelin II’ was one of the band’s most successful albums

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Page making two major changes to his gear had little effect on his recording process or the success of Led Zeppelin II.

The album went gold in less than three weeks, gave Led Zeppelin its lone Billboard top-10 single for “Whole Lotta Love,” and had longevity to boot. Led Zeppelin II spent 117 weeks on the Billboard albums chart, No. 3 among Zep releases behind Mothership and Led Zeppelin IV. It sat at the top of the charts for seven weeks, tied with In Through the Out Door as the longest-tenured No. 1 album.

Jimmy Page made two huge changes to his equipment before making Led Zeppelin II. They clearly didn’t affect him or the album’s success.

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