The Led Zeppelin Song Jack White Said Featured ‘Some of the Greatest Guitar Notes Ever Played’
Debates about the best Led Zeppelin moments never seem to end, and it’s easy to understand why. Whether you’re talking about the finest Jimmy Page guitar solo, the ultimate John Bonham drum part, or the greatest work of Robert Plant and John Paul Jones, you have a lot of options.
The subject of Page’s guitar solos has always been a particularly fun one to dive into. On several occasions, rock fans have named his work at the close of “Stairway to Heaven” the greatest
Page rock solo of all time. But Page doesn’t agree with that take.
Page has said that, while “Stairway” is obviously a gem, he prefers his solos on other Zeppelin tracks. (Though he didn’t name one specifically, “Achilles Last Stand” is clearly on his list.) Several industry heavyweights have agreed that Page topped his “Stairway” solo on different occasions.
For Terry Manning, an engineer on Led Zeppelin III, Page’s work on “Since I’ve Been Loving You” was the greatest rock solo ever recorded. And for modern guitar hero Jack White, Page’s work on a Led Zeppelin II track represented the finest moment in the history of the instrument.
Jack White thought no guitarist ever topped Jimmy Page’s solo on Led Zeppelin’s ‘Whole Lotta Love’
If you watched the 2008 documentary It Might Get Loud, you’re familiar with White’s reverence for the “Whole Lotta Love” riff. When Page tears into his iconic lick, White looks over at The Edge with a look that seems to say, “Holy sh*t!”
But White may hold Page’s “Whole Lotta Love” solo in even higher esteem. In an interview with Barney Hoskyns that appeared in Led Zeppelin: The Oral History of the World’s Greatest Rock Band (2012), the former White Stripes axeman put that 17 seconds of the track in a class of its own.
White was referring the solo section that closes out the middle-part “freakout” of “Whole Lotta Love,” which starts at 2:22 and runs to 2:39. “I still think that break is probably some of the greatest guitar notes ever played, if not the greatest,” White told Hoskyns.
White made it clear that he didn’t just come to that conclusion in the middle of his own sparkling career in music; he basically felt it from the first time he heard “Whole Lotta Love” in the early ’80s.
White listened to the ‘Whole Lotta Love’ solo so much as a child he damaged his friend’s tape
When describing to Hoskyns his admiration for Page’s “Whole Lotta Love” solo, White recalled the first times he heard the classic Zep track. He said a girl down the street had a tape with the song on it, and that he’d go to her house to listen to it.
“I rewound it so many times that there was a f*ckup on the tape before the guitar solo,” White said in Hoskyns’ oral history. “Just that little section is so powerful, and it was powerful to me when I was five years old.”
Indeed, that explosion out of the “Whole Lotta Love” middle section has to rank among Page’s finest moments. Led Zeppelin II had more to come, of course. If you like pure swagger, the opening to “Heartbreaker” is magic. Then there’s the spectacular unaccompanied solo on that track, too.