The Day I Met Jimmy Page
by Alex Freiman
Everyone I know claims to be the biggest Jimmy Page Fan—but the truth is I am!
It all started back when I was just a boy and didn’t know much about music, let alone Rock’n Roll. I was all about skateboarding and video games.
One morning, the phone rang. It was my buddy, P.A.
The conversation went something like this:
P.A: “Alex, I’ve been thinking… The time has come, you’re about that age (we’re 12)—you should really start thinking about your future.”
Me (thinking, ‘Here we go…’): “Yes, P.A, I know just what you mean…”
P.A: “Come on, Alex, be serious a minute. Skateboarding is cool and all, but it just ain’t going to cut it a couple years from now. The girls… man think about it… SKATEBOARDING! You know what you need?”
Me: “What do I need?”
P.A: “A guitar. You need to play the guitar.”
This conversation must have stayed with me because, soon after, there was this blue electric guitar and me trying to make it sing—and then the day I heard Jimmy Page for the first time. Early on, I knew I wanted to be a professional musician and Jimmy Page quickly became my teacher. I was copying his solos from the records, learning his tunes and mimicking his moves. Led Zeppelin was MY band.
Later, I got into jazz and started playing professionally, but although my music and tastes have evolved since those first years with my blue guitar, Zeppelin and Page have stayed with me and remain one of my main inspirations.
Needless to say, when Laura (our events manager) told me that Jimmy Page was planning an event at Shakespeare and Company for his new autobiography, my jaw dropped to the ground. Since I started working here, the bookshop has surprised me in so many ways and I’ve had the privilege to meet so many incredible people… yet this just seemed too big to be true.
But it was.
The whole Shakespeare and Company team was stoked by the idea and the days leading up to the event buzzed with excitement and anticipation.
As I arrived to open the shop on the big day, a crowd had already gathered. Some particularly eager fans had bought three copies of the book already and were waiting by the door with coffee, sandwiches, chairs and Led Zeppelin t-shirts. The queue grew bigger and bigger until the line stretched all the way around the block. So many people hoping to meet their hero.
At 12:30 on the dot, a black car pulled up. You could hear a pin drop—everyone was holding their breath as if something truly extraordinary was about to happen. The air was electric.
Jimmy Page got out of the car. Black pants, black shirt, black jacket, black scarf and white hair. Tall, handsome, beautiful smile. Mysterious and charismatic, but just a man. Why was I surprised?
During the Q&A, we were all blown away by Jimmy’s warmth, charm and honesty. He talked about his early days, his music with the Yardbirds and Led Zeppelin and his favorite guitars. Meanwhile I’m thinking to myself, “This exceedingly elegant and inspiring human being, who happened to write one of the most important pages of rock history, is sitting here surrounded by our book collection.” This was up there with the greatest moments I’d experienced at our bookshop. Pure magic. But the best was yet to come…
After he’d stamped books for legions of fans, Jimmy Page and the staff stayed a while in the empty shop, chatting. I’ll never forget this exchange…
Sylvia: “Mr. Page, I’d like to introduce you to our two staff member musicians—Ben and Alex.”
Jimmy Page (shaking my hand): “Oh! So you’re a musician?”
Me: “Yes, and so delighted to meet you… uuhh… you know it’s your fault I’m playing all these gigs in dive bars, right?”
Jimmy Page (laughs): “Hmm, I guess it’s therapeutic…”
Melody [staff member]: “And he has a gig tonight!”
Jimmy Page: “Is that right?”
Me: “Yeah! You should come by and jam!”
Jimmy page: (…)