How Jimmy Page’s Double-Neck Guitar Opened Up Possibilities on the ‘Houses of the Holy’ Tour
If you needed one image to sum up Led Zeppelin in all its ’70s glory (or excess), a photo of Jimmy Page in a dragon suit playing a red double-neck guitar should work. By 1973, Page had his custom stage outfits and his custom Gibson EDS-1275 guitar to match.
The double neck was more than a showpiece (though that was part of it). Page ordered the custom Gibson to accommodate the six- and 12-string guitar parts on “Stairway to Heaven” in a live setting. So after the release of Led Zeppelin IV (1971), it became a fixture of Zeppelin performances.
When he spoke to Total Guitar about the iconic double neck in late ’20, Page noted how the instrument opened things up for Zep’s follow-up album and tour. With the double neck in his possession, Page didn’t have to fret about performing the opening tracks to Houses of the Holy (1973) live.
Jimmy Page could perform ‘The Rain Song’ and ‘The Song Remains the Same’ on his double neck
Page first broke out the EDS-1275 on stage in March ’71. After he returned home and began work on the next Zep album, he had the guitar in mind. “On [Houses of the Holy], there’s what was originally called ‘The Overture,’ but it becomes ‘The Song Remains The Same,'” Page told Total Guitar.
“And then [came] ‘The Rain Song,’ and I did those because I figured I would be able to do those on the double neck,” he continued. “So I was actually thinking of the double neck, and being able to have those two numbers the way they appear on the album.”
In other words, once you get a showpiece guitar like the EDS-1275, you find a way to work it into other parts of the act. “I was thinking about how to really be able to use it, rather than just maybe for one or two songs,” Page told Total Guitar. “So it became an active part of the overall show.”
Indeed, when the Zep took off on its ’73 tour, the band seemed particularly energized in its performances of “The Song Remains the Same” followed by “The Rain Song.” Their MSG performances of those tracks remain a highlight of The Song Remains the Same film.
Page also used the Gibson double neck for ‘Celebration Day’
Though he was looking forward to using the double neck for new Houses of the Holy tracks, Page also put the guitar into service in performances of a song from Led Zeppelin III (1970) on tour.
“In a live situation, I would play ‘Celebration Day’ primarily on the 12-string neck,” Page told Genesis Publications in November ’20. “But I would swap over from the drive of the 12-string to the six-string to enable me to play the melodic guitar solo and then back to the 12-string to complete the song.”
If you caught the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Play it Loud exhibit in ’19, you would have seen Page’s famous double neck. But if not, you can still see him play it in The Song Remains the Same and other Led Zeppelin performances preserved on video. It’s a sight to behold.