Jimmy Page took to the stage for his first live performance in nine years this weekend, playing a cover of Link Wray’s Rumble at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction ceremony on Friday (November 3).
The appearance represents Page’s first live performance in eight years, following his impromptu cameo at Seattle’s Experience Music Project (aka the Museum of Pop Culture) during their star-studded 2015 Founder’s Award show. That show saw Page hop onstage with a borrowed Gibson Les Paul.
This time, though, the Led Zeppelin man appeared holding his iconic Gibson ES-1275 doubleneck (famously used on Stairway to Heaven) and performed the full two minutes and 25 seconds of the track on the 12-string neck.
“I was asked to induct Link Wray into the Rock n Roll Hall of Fame; a guitarist, instrumentalist and songwriter that I’d admired from the very first taste of the Rumble,” wrote Page on social media, following the show.
“I first heard it when I was 14, roaring from a jukebox in my hometown of Epsom. As a guitar instrumental the attitude of it was totally unique in its mystery, imagination and execution – it had a profound effect on me.
“Link Wray and Rumble stand alone at the pinnacle in the world of instrumentals and I was thrilled to stand on stage in New York with drummer Anton Fig and bassist Tim Givens at the Rock n Roll Hall of Fame last night to induct one of my heroes.”
As noted in GW’s recent piece on the legacy of Link Wray’s Rumble, the track was famous for its aggressive distortion tone (achieved when Wray poked holes into the speaker of his Premier guitar amp with a pencil), combined with an unhinged vibrato effect.
Page also counted Rumble among his most important early influences in the 2010 film, It Might Get Loud.
“The first time I heard the Rumble… that was something that had so much profound attitude to it,” says Page in the documentary, as he plays the track back.
“[Throughout, he starts] to increase vibrato on his amplifier and it gets more and more intense.
“Most of my day was spent going through these records listening to sounds or playing guitar with the sounds. I was pulled into those speakers by this wonderful guitar playing, [I thought] ‘I gotta get to grips with that.’”
The track was also a major inspiration for Page‘s fellow Yardbird, Jeff Beck, who covered the track shortly before his death in a promo for Fender‘s American Vintage II range.
Regardless of the motivation (and we must admit it's a good one), Page’s live appearance has been a long time coming. Let’s hope it’s the first step towards some of those “multiple” new projects Page hinted at back in 2022 seeing the light of day.