Harrogate Chris Salewicz's new Led Zeppelin book

A Harrogate-born writer who made his name in the golden age of the British music press has published the ultimate insider's book about Led Zeppelin's Jimmy Page.

Friday, 3rd August 2018, 3:11 pm
Updated Friday, 3rd August 2018, 3:18 pm
Definitive new book about Jimmy Page - Led Zeppelin pictured on stage at their peak in the 1970s.

Published by HarperCollins, Jimmy Page: The Definitive Biography is only the latest music blockbuster written by Chris Salewicz but looks like being his most successful yet.

Like his acclaimed biographies of Joe Strummer: Redemption Song and Bob Marley: The Untold Story, Salewicz relies as much on his own face-to-face interviews as copious research to write an entertaining and comprehensive account of guitar legend, songwriter and producer Page’s life and career.

Chris said: "The arc of my book traces Jimmy's career as a session musician, and the countless hits on which he played.

"But it also of course concerns how in the mid-1970s people were actually frightened of JP, largely because of his alleged dabbling with the dark arts."

Formed in London in 1968, Led Zeppelin went on to sell 300 million albums under the leadership of Page and lead singer Robert Plant.

Despite huge success, the band quickly acquired a notorious reputation for sex, drugs and rock n roll – and worse, black magic.It was a trap Page himself went to great lengths to escape eventually.

Chris said: “In the 1970s, people were afraid not just of Zeppelin’s manager Peter Grant but Page himself.

“Taking into account his assiduous efforts to come off all manner of bad drugs, he has achieved a considerable redemption.

“People aren’t frightened of him now and he is revered as the greatest ever English rock star.”

As for where the inspiration for the new book, Chris says it happened when he was sleeping.

Chris said: “I got the idea to do the book in a dream. I as staying with my son in LA, which is very much a Led Zeppelin town.

“I was dreaming one night and a voice told me “write the Jimmy Page book! So I decided I’d better do that!”

It’s been an amazing career for Chris himself since he left Harrogate after being a pupil at West End School, Ashville College and King James’s Grammar School.His love of rock music started early.

Chris said: "When I discovered Elvis Presley in 1958 my life changed utterly. The first group I saw was The Beatles at Leeds Queens Hall, when From Me to You had just come out. "I then went to Leeds University to study English where there was always a host of great acts on. I first saw Led Zeppelin live in January or February 1970.

Writing for the likes of the NME at their peak, over the years Chris has counted many famous names as friends.

But he retains a great love for the town that formed him.

He said: “I was mates with actor Jim Carter at Ashville and with another great actor Tom Wilkinson at Knaresborough Grammar.

“I still have relatives in Harrogate and have a great fondness for the town.

Jimmy Page: The Definitive Biography by Chris Salewicz is on sale in hardback now on HarperCollins.

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