How Paul Rodgers Got Jimmy Page to Play Guitar Again
via The Howard Stern Show / Youtube
When Paul Rodgers and Mick Ralphs plunged into the journey of forming a band, little did they anticipate the pivotal role Peter Grant, the esteemed manager of Led Zeppelin, would play in their story.
What’s more, Rodgers himself will never foresee how this connection will help reignite the fire of one of the greatest guitar players to ever live.
The unforeseen and sudden death of Led Zeppelin drummer John Bonham due to accidental suffocation from vomit proved to be a challenging reality for guitarist Jimmy Page to come to terms with.
“I thought, well, the best way for anybody to bring them out of a depression like that deep mourning is to do the thing you love,” Rodgers shared recently with Howard Stern.
Led Zeppelin’s impact on Bad Company’s career
A friend with connections to Led Zeppelin suggested reaching out to Grant, prompting Rodgers to make the call.
Despite initial skepticism about whether the manager of the world’s biggest band would be interested, Grant not only expressed interest in Rodgers but in the entire band they had named Bad Company.
Undeterred by Grant’s reservations about the name, Rodgers and Ralphs stood firm, and with that, Peter Grant became the manager that would guide Bad Company’s trajectory.
“He said, ‘Well, I don’t know about the name’. Mick and I were determined it was going to be called Bad Company. We thought it was like, you know, the perfect name for a band. So we stuck to our guns and Peter became our manager. He brought us to America and actually Led Zeppelin themselves were very, very good to us, I must say,” Rodgers recalled.
Led Zeppelin introduced Bad Company to America
Under the seasoned guidance of Peter Grant, Bad Company secured a contract with the now-defunct Swan Song Records, a record label Led Zeppelin themselves launched.
The collaboration between the two bands went beyond managerial support. Led Zeppelin, then a colossal force in rock and roll, played a critical role in introducing Bad Company, a relatively unknown entity at the time, to the American audience.
“It was just so great because we were we were kind of nobody at that point. And it was so great to have somebody so monstrous, monstrously big in rock and roll introduce us to the to the American people, you know,” Rodgers shared.
This endorsement and introduction from the hard rock titans not only validated Bad Company’s presence in the industry but also marked a defining moment in their early careers.
The pause in Bad Company and Jimmy Page’s resurgence
The untimely demise of Bonham, a very important cog of the well-oiled hard-hitting machine that was Led Zeppelin, brought about a profound shift in the dynamics of both Bad Company and Led Zeppelin.
In response to this tragedy, Rodgers chose to step back from touring with Bad Company, and Led Zeppelin, too, entered a hiatus as Page grappled with the loss, abstaining from playing for two years.
“At that point, I decided I didn’t want to tour with Bad Company anymore. And I sat back from that and Led Zeppelin basically stopped working at that point,” the frontman remembered.
However, a significant turning point occurred when Page, still mourning the loss of his dear friend, reached out to Rodgers. Despite the cautionary advice not to ask Page to play, Rodgers extended an invitation to jam at the studio.
The healing power of music for Jimmy Page
Rodgers went on. “Jimmy called me up and said, I’m going to come over what you’re doing. You know, I said, yeah, you know, come over. It’d be great. And everybody when Jimmy was coming around, all the people that are around him, you know, his roadie and his driver and all everybody just said, whatever you do, don’t ask him to play guitar when he gets to your studio.”
Rodgers, a believer of the rock and roll spirit himself, did not heed their advice. For the rock singer, the act of playing the guitar became Page’s therapeutic channel to cope with the profound loss and find solace.
“As soon as he got to the studio, I said, ‘Hi, Jimmy, did you bring your guitar? Let’s have a jam, you know?’ And they all went, oh, my God, don’t do that. But by the end of the evening, I have to say he was playing and he was playing brilliantly.
This little help from a friend helped Page shake off the dust and go back to being the great guitar maestro himself. Staring at the ruins of Led Zeppelin and Bad Company, the duo decided to form a band, which became the supergroup called The Firm.
Listen to the snipper of the Howard Stern interview below: