From the Archive: Jimmy Page Discusses Tour and Album with The Black Crowes
Here's an interview with Jimmy Page and Chris and Rich Robinson of The Black Crowes from the July 2000 issue of Guitar World. To see the complete cover, and all the GW covers from 2000, click here.
Chris Robinson of the Black Crowes loves being a rock and roll lead singer. Onstage and off, he plays the role to the hilt. During a photo session at a loft in Manhattan's Soho district, Robinson sashays across the floor as if in concert, shaking his impossibly slender, leather-clad hips and flailing skinny arms swathed in the billowing sleeves of a frilly shirt.
"We're trying to keep our cool here," he cries out. "It's hard sometimes. This is Jimmy Page, man!"
True enough. The guitar legend is off in one corner with Crowes guitarist Rich Robinson. The duo is quietly examining a vintage Gibson Firebird that belongs to Rich. Page is in New York to be photographed with the Robinson brothers. It's all to promote their new, internet-only album, Jimmy Page and the Black Crowes: Live at the Greek, and their current tour in tandem with the Who.
Jimmy Page looks cheerful, dapper and fit, with short-cropped hair that emphasizes the squareness of his jaw. Veteran Page watchers say the master is in exceptionally good spirits these days. This Black Crowes collaboration seems to have revivified him. While they're no spring chickens themselves, the Crowes bring more freshness and youthful zeal to the classic Zep repertoire than a full-on Led Zeppelin reunion could probably generate at this point. The group certainly brings out the best in Page. His guitar playing on Live at the Greek reaches levels of fire and fury that it hasn't attained in years.
"It's very musical, isn't it?" says Page of the project. "The Crowes are really known for jamming and ad-libbing. And that's what I've been doing ever since I've been playing. So it's complementary. And I know people respect the fact that there are musicians trying every night to put themselves right on the edge."
The combination seemed improbable at first: Jimmy Page, the Black Crowes and the internet? But great rock music is often born of strange encounters at the crossroad of culture and commerce. Although Page and the Crowes belong to different rock generations and come from opposite sides of the Atlantic they share a profound love of the blues and the other musical traditions that form rock's roots. Given that common heritage, it made perfect sense for them to team up for a series of live shows last year. What was more puzzling, for many observers, was why they decided to release their concert recordings exclusively on the internet, through musicmaker.com. But the wisdom of this move ceased to be questioned when Page and the Crowes became the first artists ever to crack the Top 10 with an internet-only single, a rendition of Led Zeppelin's "What Is and What Should Never Be" from Live at the Greek.
"Everyone gives David Bowie the credit for having gone on the internet with his [Hours] album," says Page. "But he just put it up there for two weeks or something. It was more publicity than anything else. But here we've gone and done it for real."
All this summer, Page and the Crowes will be on the road, touring America alongside the Who, whose new live CD, The Blues to the Bush, is also being distributed exclusively on the internet through musicmaker.com. The concerts will be presented in a unique new way: the tour will roll into town, the Who will play one night, Page and the Crowes will perform the following night (or vice versa). This not only skirts the issue of who's opening for whom, it also allows the two bands to share P.A. equipment, lighting rigs and other expenses of touring. These savings will be passed onto fans in the form of discount rates on lawn seats if you purchase tickets for both shows. The whole thing was masterminded by Bill Curbishley, who manages both Jimmy Page and the Who.
"The way the touring business is going, I think a lot of people might have to do it this way in the future," says Curbishley. "Get two bands, tour together and go back to back, sharing the costs. Because, for some unbelievable reason, the general public or the media seem to feel that concerts should be cheaper than football, basketball or hockey games."
PART 1: LET'S PLAY TOGETHER
All these innovations in rock presentation might not have taken place if Jimmy Page hadn't found himself in need of a pickup band one night about a year ago. He was asked to act as music director for a concert to benefit two of his favorite charities: SCREAM (Supporting Children through Re-Education and Music) and the ABC (Action for Brazil's Children) Trust.