Photo by Dina Regine. Image source: Wikimedia Commons
The rock musician, Jimmy Page, is probably one of Epsom's most famous sons of modern times, although he was not born there, but he did spend his formative years in the town.
James Patrick 'Jimmy' Page OBE was born on 9 January 1944 in Heston, Middlesex, the only child of James, an industrial personnel manager, and Patricia Elizabeth (nee Gaffikin), a doctor's secretary. James and Patricia were married at Epsom Register Office on 22 April 1941, at which point James was living at 138 Reigate Road, Ewell. The family's move to Epsom, when Jimmy was eight years old, was allegedly motivated by a desire to escape the aircraft noise from Heathrow Airport. Contrary to statements on Wikipedia and other internet sources, he was not related to the family that founded Page Motors
. Jimmy's forbears came from Grimsbury, Northamptonshire (very near to Banbury, Oxfordshire) and his paternal grandfather, Herbert Miller Page, was a nurseryman.
Jimmy attended Pound Lane School
in Epsom and then Danetree School. He and his parents lived at 34 Miles Road, Epsom (immortalised in the song 'Miles Road' that he recorded with Eric Clapton in 1965 - Jimmy had a home studio there). He left school at the age of 14 to pursue a musical career as a guitarist - largely self-taught - and joined 'The Crusaders'. That group is forgotten now, but it was the launch-pad for several well-known artistes, including Chris Farlowe ('Out of Time') and Ritchie Blackmore of 'Deep Purple': the group was fronted by vocalist Neil Christian, consigned to pop history as a one-hit wonder (the hit being 1966's 'That's Nice' - I really liked that song, which was mostly talked, and actually owned a copy of it at the time).
34 Miles Road, Epsom (the house with the white fence).
Image courtesy of Clive Gilbert © 2012
Jimmy Page during his schooldays
Image courtesy of Bourne Hall Museum
Not to be reproduced without prior written permission
Whilst he was with 'The Crusaders' Jimmy had a severe bout of glandular fever, which led him to give up music and enrol at Sutton Art College. However, he was soon back in the pop business as a studio guitarist for Decca Records and he played on such huge hits as 'Diamonds' (Jet Harris and Tony Meehan, 1963), 'As Tears Go By' (Marianne Faithfull, 1964), 'Tobacco Road' (The Nashville Teens, 1964) and 'The Crying Game' (Dave Berry, 1964). In 1965 he was signed up by Andrew Loog Oldham, manager of 'The Rolling Stones', to be a house producer and A&R man for Immediate Records, whose performers included 'The Small Faces' and 'Fleetwood Mac'.
In 1966 Jimmy played on 'Beck's Bolero' and joined 'The Yardbirds' (Jeff Beck was a group member at the time). This was, however, after the group had had its more well-known hits like 'Heart Full of Soul' and 'Shapes of Things'. Jimmy preferred 'heavy' material, whilst the other members did not and the group split up in 1968.
Jimmy Page (second right) as a member of 'The Yardbirds'.
Image source not known.
Jimmy then recruited Robert Plant (vocals), John Bonham (drums) and John Paul Jones (bass and keyboards) to form a new group. Initially they were called 'the New Yardbirds' but swiftly became 'Led Zeppelin' and pursued Jimmy's preference for heavy metal/hard rock. This was a hugely influential outfit, two of its most famous tracks being 'Whole Lotta Love' and 'Stairway to Heaven'.
The Zeppelin era lasted around 12 years, accompanied by tales of drugs - Jimmy has admitted to past heroin use - and wild behaviour (probably par for the supergroup course at the time), and ended in 1980 when Bonham, aged only 32, died at Jimmy's house in Clewer, Berkshire, having, it is said, consumed 40 shots of vodka in the preceding 24 hours.
The grave at Rushock Parish Church, Worcestershire where John Bonham's ashes are interred.
Photo by Ebbskihare. Image source Wikimedia Commons
Following Bonham's death the group issued a statement, which said 'We wish it to be known that the loss of our dear friend and the deep respect we have for his family, together with the sense of undivided harmony felt by ourselves and our manager, have led us to decide that we could not continue as we were.' (As an aside, Bonham's mother, who died in 2011, was a lead vocalist for 'The Zimmers', reputed to be the most elderly band in the world.) That was the end of Led Zeppelin.
It seems incredible that it is more than 30 years since the group disbanded, but Jimmy has not been idle in the meantime. In between musical ventures he became involved with a charity called Task Brasil, which helps the street children of Rio de Janeiro, and donated the money to build a residential care home for them, known as 'Casa Jimmy'. In recognition of this work he was made an honorary citizen of Rio and was awarded the OBE in 2005.
Accurate details concerning Jimmy's private life are hard to find, but it is known that he had a relationship with a lady called Charlotte Martin and that they had a daughter, Scarlet Lilith Eleida, born in 1971: she is a professional photographer (see http://www.scarletpage.com/).
In 1986 Jimmy married New Orleans waitress Patricia Ecker, with whom he had a son, James Patrick Junior (born 1988). The couple were divorced in 1995. He subsequently married Jimena Gomez-Paratcha, who was born in San Francisco of Argentinian parents. They have two children of their own, Zofia Jade (1997) and Ashen Josan (1999), plus Jimena's daughter Jana (1994), whom Jimmy adopted. They are said to have divorced in 2008.
Jimmy Page in 2008.
Photo by Simon Fernandez. Image source Wikimedia Commons
Linda Jackson November 2012