Jimmy Page Recalls Early Led Zeppelin Critics

Writers who criticised their early albums motivated the band to carry on and prove them wrong, according to an exclusive new interview.

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Jimmy Page has looked back at his career as Led Zeppelin guitarist in an eight-hour interview with Rolling Stone.

An excerpt from the interview discuss early negative reviews of the band, and how it motivated them to carry on.

"There was a certain amount of acid poured on us," Page recalls. "I could see it as venomous then. How I see it now? It went over their heads. I will give the reviewers the benefit of the doubt each album was so different to the others."

Page remembers critics saying "Led Zeppelin III" was their attempt to do "a Crosby, Stills and Nash," even though their first album had plenty of acoustic guitar.

Negative comments didn't upset the band. "It made me more determined. I knew what we had. We obliterated them in San Francisco on the first tour. By the time we were moving on, through these other territories, everybody wanted to see what had come from the ashes of the Yardbirds."

He also talked about how Led Zeppelin was essentially his band, especially in the early days.

"At that time, absolutely. I'm the one presenting the material and giving the ideas, how these things should be done. But the ruthless efficiency everybody went into the first album with that. Everybody knew how good we were. And we were strict in that if we were writing something and it sounded like something else we'd done, we'd immediately drop it."

Do you agree that Page was the band leader, or was their success thanks to the talent of each member? Share your opinion in the comments.

21 comments sorted by best / new / date

    "There was a certain amount of acid poured on us"...double entendre at it's finest Mr. Page
    Ironic seeing as how Rolling Stone magazine hated Zeppelin when they were around. Zeppelin got big in spite of magazines like the Rolling Stone, not because of.
    Actually, if you say that something is bad it interests people a little more than when you say something's good. So, when critics said that Led Zeppelin was bad that inspired people to check them out to see how bad they really were. When they found out that the band was actually good, it inspired them to get into the band. Case in point, Justin Bieber. Everybody feels the need to express the opinion that he sucks on every single youtube video in the world. Because of this publicity, he's the biggest star in the world. Of course, with a critical ear I could understand why critics would dismiss Zeppelin back in the day. Page has always been fairly sloppy at guitar, Robert Plant's vocals annoy me at times and at the time John Bonham's drumming style hadn't been heard of in rock n roll.
    And Jimmy Page tended to 'borrow' guitar parts from less-famous bands. A famous example would be the intro riff to Stairway To heaven.
    Oh shut up. I doubt anyone had that thought when reviewing the albums. And we need not go into this as its always mentioned.
    This kinda proves that music critics are morons. not that thats new news, but how can you criticize Zep 1 and 2..
    Yeah its always blown my mind too. The only thing I could ever think of was Plant's voice that turned off the critics. Its a bit of an acquired taste, and easily my least favorite element of Zeppelin. I even read that Plant thought he was going to be fired after Zep I cause Page wasnt satisfied. You can't deny his vocal talent though. That always was what made me at least appreciate it even when the high-pitchedness wasn't my cup of tea at times.
    I think that when Rolling Stone bashed Led Zeppelin's first album people were more open minded and wanted to hear what was so bad about them (only to find they were one of the best bands around). From what I've read the live shows had some pretty scathing reviews as well. They would say the band was "too loud" "out of control" and "neanderthal-like". Which also garnered more attention from people interested to experience it. So the lesson of the day is: don't trust the critics and be open minded. Big-time critics usually get paid off to give a good review.
    I wouldnt agree that Page was leader of the pack for 12 years - for the start yes but during III and especially Zoso,Houses of the Holy, PG they became one cohesive unit. Jones started to involve in song-writing process a lot more and Bonzo made his presence even louder.
    I always thought that Led Zeppelin III sounds a lot like Crosby, Stills and Nash... not that Led Zeppelin were wannabes or anything, just nice to know I'm not the only one.
    Page was the man early on, and certainly remained among the absolute leaders of the band...but John Paul Jones apparently had to take on more responsibility when Page had his worst heroin issues. The truth is that regardless who led, the band was made of singularly fantastic talents and would end up influencing the entire rock world.
    "it's like cream, except worse!" - rolling stone's review of Black Sabbath **** critics
    Page was the experienced one in terms of fame, respect etc. So he had more authority maybe, but Jonesy was experienced from his session days, and the raw, naiive energy that Plant and Bonham brought were just as key, 4 very different ingredients...
    wow i posted something like this one a youtube comment and everybody hated me for it but now since jimmy page says it, everybody believes it
    I have a hard time listening to PG for some reason, i just doesnt stick for me, not like the first five anyway, actually not a big fan of anything after houses album
    After all these years, I don't really listen to Zeppelin I,II,III, and even IV anymore. Not that they aren't amazing, its just that Houses of the Holy and Physical Grafiti set the bar even a step higher that hadn't seemed possible. They NEVER get old no matter how many copies I wear out.
    I have a hard time listening to PG at all, actually i cant listen to anything from thiis album or after, i can do the first five but thats it, Houses is the best IMO.
    Although I like Physical Graffiti, it's not an album I can play all the way through. I quite often skip a few songs when i'm listening to it. But I will agree that Houses of The Holy is a great Led Zeppelin album, and it is probably their most consistent release. My step-mom showed me the title track when she got the Mothership disc and it instantly got me hooked on Zeppelin.
    Just curious what tracks you tend to skip on Physical Graffiti? I think its something we all tend to do on even our favorite albums, whether we admit it or not. I often skip by Boogie with Stu, just because its the lone turd buried in a full pack of gems.