Richness of Content: David Williams might not be a familiar name to most individuals in The Music community, but his claim to fame is a fairly intriguing one. After all, he spent his formative years with Jimmy Page and eventually befriended such iconic musicians as Brian Jones, Mick Jagger, and Keith Richards. Williams' book The First Time We Met The Blues doesn't delve too heavily into the day-to-day life of Page or the guitarist's time with Led Zeppelin, but it does provide an interesting overview of how the blues genre united a group of young lads from Britain.
The First Time We Met The Blues doesn't necessarily have the smoothest transitions and Williams prefaces the book by saying he doesn't claim to be a tried and true biographer but the book does have a variety of anecdotes that probably haven't popped up in many Led Zeppelin biographies. From the early days when Williams and Page would sit in a living room dissecting rare blues records and drool over their dream guitar (the Fender Stratocaster) to the moment when Williams first heard a Zeppelin album, you do gain plenty of insight into where Page received his initial musical inspiration.
The highlight of the book arrives when Williams describes how he and his friends (including Page, Mick Jagger, Brian Jones, and Keith Richards) all crammed into a van to see what was essentially the first American blues festival in England. The way Williams describes the excitement leading up to the event (Page almost missed the show due to a booked gig) and their reaction to beholding the likes of John Lee Hooker, T-Bone Walker, and Willie Dixon is certainly a unique read. One particularly fun story involves Jagger and Richards, who apparently cornered the bluesman Shakey Jake onstage. Williams describes, Just imagine it for a moment, here were the Rolling Stones mobbing someone else! // 8
Style: As was mentioned earlier, Williams never proclaims himself to be a seasoned biographer. There is a certain disjointed nature to his anecdotes, but the chronological nature of the bulk of the stories keeps things pretty cohesive. In a way, the rough-around-the-edges style works for relaying stories from his early years, and you almost feel like you're there with him as he discovers a completely new form of music: the blues. It's obvious that Williams still feels excited about his childhood and teenage years, particularly reading about moments when he and Page would treasure any new blues record from Howlin' Wolf or Jimmy Reed that they came across. // 7
Overall Impression: If you're looking for an all-encompassing look at Page or any other British rock icons, you'll probably want to look into a more comprehensive biography. But Williams' book is as much of a homage to blues musicians and their impact on young British kids in general, regardless if they went on to launch successful musical careers. The moments when Williams delivers side stories about his own personal teenage jobs or a car he received as gift are not the most enthralling, but his storytelling style is interesting enough that you can let it pass. At 121 pages, The First Time We Met The Blues is a pretty breezy read, and anyone who is interested in knowing how Page developed into a guitar god should find the book entertaining. // 7