LED ZEPPELIN legend Jimmy Page spoke to the Associated Press about his involvement in the first major exhibition in an art museum dedicated entirely to the iconic instruments of rock and roll. “Play It Loud: Instruments of Rock & Roll” will go on view at The Metropolitan Museum of Art beginning April 8 and will display more than 130 instruments, including guitars played by Page, Eddie Van Halen, METALLICA‘s James Hetfield, and others. It is co-organized by Jayson Kerr Dobney, Frederick P. Rose Curator in Charge of the Department of Musical Instruments at The Met, and Craig J. Inciardi, Curator and Director of Acquisitions of the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame.
“Jason and Craig came to my house in London — I invited them to my house to get some idea of what it was that they planned,” Page said (see video below). “And they had like a floorplan of how they wanted to display things. And they said, ‘You approach the gallery through Greco-Roman statues, and then the first thing you see is Chuck Berry‘s guitar.’ I said, ‘What, the original one? The blonde one?’ They said, ‘Yes.’ I said, ‘What would you like? Just tell me what you want to help this along, and you can have whatever it is that you want.'”
Speaking about his contribution to the exhibition, Page said: “I’ve loaned my harmony guitar, which was a harmony six-string acoustic. That guitar I had way back in the early ’60s, and it was with me all the way through to the point that I used it as a writing tool. And that particular guitar is the vehicle whereby the first album of LED ZEPPELIN is written, the second album is written, the third album is written, and the fourth album is written. And it’s the guitar that actually culminates in playing ‘Stairway To Heaven’.”
Dating from 1939 to 2017, the exhibit also contains instruments played by Chuck Berry, Eric Clapton, Sheryl Crow, Bob Dylan, Don Felder, Kim Gordon, Jimi Hendrix, Wanda Jackson, Joan Jett, Lady Gaga, Steve Miller, Joni Mitchell, Kate Pierson, Elvis Presley, Prince, Keith Richards, Patti Smith, Bruce Springsteen, Ringo Starr, Stevie Ray Vaughan, St. Vincent, Tina Weymouth, Nancy Wilson and more.
Met director Max Hollein said that the exhibit celebrates a “formative chapter in 20th-century art and culture, and the extraordinary objects featured in this presentation convey the innovation, experimentation, passion, and rebellion at the heart of rock and roll.”
Organized thematically, “Play It Loud” will explore how musicians embraced and advanced emerging technologies; the phenomenon of the “Guitar Gods”; the crafting of a visual identity through the use of instruments; and the destruction of instruments in some live performances, one of rock’s most defining gestures.
By displaying several rigs used in live performances and sound recordings, the exhibition will also demonstrate how artists created their own individual sounds. Meanwhile, some 40 vintage posters, costumes, and performance videos will illustrate key components of the musical movement’s visual style and impact.