Once described by Jimmy Page as both his "mistress and wife...except it doesn't ask for alimony," his "Number One" Gibson Les Paul is—without question—one of the most iconic guitars in the history of rock.
The guitar, which he purchased from Joe Walsh (who was in the James Gang at the time) in 1969 during one of Led Zeppelin's early U.S. tours, has been closely associated with Page for decades. It was heavily featured on the majority of Led Zeppelin records and live shows.
In the May 2012 issue of Guitar World, Walsh spoke about the transaction: "I laid it on him and said, 'Try this out'. He really liked it, so I gave him a good deal, about $1,200. I had to hand-carry it; plus I flew there and everything. So whatever my expenses were, that's what I charged him... I just thought he should have a Les Paul, for godsakes!"
Due to a refinishing job commissioned by Walsh, the serial number on the guitar was removed, which has led to many a debate over the guitar's year of manufacture. However, due to the neck profile, most experts concur that it is likely to be a late 1959 model, or an early 1960.
In the 2003 footage below, Page gives us an up-close look at this special guitar—just before it was spirited away by Gibson to be copied by the company's custom shop.
Jonathan Graham is an ACM UK graduate based in London studying under the likes of Guthrie Govan and Pete Friesen. He is the creator of ForgottenGuitar.com, a classic-guitar media website, and is completing his debut album, Protagonist, due for release in 2016. Updates also can be found at Graham's YouTube channel.