Watch Jimmy Page Play Chopin at 1983 ARMS Concert

Jimmy Page has demonstrated his guitar talents in a range of musical styles over the course of his career, from hard rock to folk. And for one celebrated event, he dabbled ever so briefly in classical, when he adapted Frédéric Chopin’s Prelude in E minor (Op. 28, No. 4) for electric guitar.

The occasion was the ARMS Charity Concert at the Royal Albert Hall on September 20, 1983. The star-studded event was the kickoff for a series of rock concerts to support Action into Research for Multiple Sclerosis. The project was the brainchild of Faces bassist Ronnie Lane, who suffered from multiple sclerosis.

In addition to Page, the premier concert featured Eric Clapton and Jeff Beck, making it notable as the first occasion at which the three former Yardbirds guitarists performed together onstage. Other artists who performed included Clapton’s Blind Faith bandmate (and Traffic member) Steve Winwood, the Rolling Stones’ Bill Wyman and Charlie Watts, and former Faces and Who drummer Kenney Jones.

Clapton, Beck and Page each had their own segments, as did Clapton and Winwood, before everyone joined together for the concluding tunes “Tulsa Time” (recorded by Clapton on his 1978 Backless album), Derek and the Dominos’ “Layla” and the Lead Belly standard “Goodnight, Irene.”

While Clapton and Beck served up an assortment of their better-known cuts, Page focused on tracks from his soundtrack for the 1982 movie Death Wish II, including the Chopin-composed “Prelude,” “Who’s to Blame” and “City Sirens,” the last two featuring singer Paul Rodgers. His set concluded with the Led Zeppelin hit “Stairway to Heaven,” performed instrumentally with Page, Beck and Clapton each sharing lead guitar duties.

For this performance of the prelude, Page (with cigarette dangling from his mouth) uses his Telecaster with Parsons/White B-Bender. His adaptation of the Chopin piano piece is for the most part true to form, with his guitar playing the right-hand melody. But his expressive playing, extensive use of the B-Bender and melodic embellishments transform the song into a bluesy instrumental. The prelude is one of 24 that Chopin composed and is marked by a strong sense of despair (Chopin requested to have it played at his funeral, along with Mozart’s Requiem), but in Page’s hands it became a modern and compelling film noir set piece.

Thank you for reading 5 articles this month**

Join now for unlimited access

US pricing $3.99 per month or $39.00 per year

UK pricing £2.99 per month or £29.00 per year 

Europe pricing €3.49 per month or €34.00 per year

*Read 5 free articles per month without a subscription

Join now for unlimited access

Prices from £2.99/$3.99/€3.49

Christopher Scapelliti

Christopher Scapelliti is editor-in-chief of Guitar Player magazine, the world’s longest-running guitar magazine, founded in 1967. In his extensive career, he has authored in-depth interviews with such guitarists as Pete Townshend, Slash, Billy Corgan, Jack White, Elvis Costello and Todd Rundgren, and audio professionals including Beatles engineers Geoff Emerick and Ken Scott. He is the co-author of Guitar Aficionado: The Collections: The Most Famous, Rare, and Valuable Guitars in the World, a founding editor of Guitar Aficionado magazine, and a former editor with Guitar WorldGuitar for the Practicing Musician and Maximum Guitar. Apart from guitars, he maintains a collection of more than 30 vintage analog synthesizers.