‘Not really sure where we got that tag’: Jimmy Page says Led Zeppelin isn’t a heavy metal band

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Led Zeppelin has often been credited as a foundational group in the early days of heavy metal. But actually being a heavy metal band? Jimmy Page, a died-in-the-wool blues guy, begs to differ.

“I’m not really sure where we got that tag,” Page tells Classic Rock Society. “There’s no denying that the elements of what became known as heavy metal is definitely there within Led Zeppelin. But the reality of it is that this is riff music, and riff music goes back to the blues — the electric blues of the ’50s and what was going on down there in Chicago.”

Page will get an argument from the New York Times, which has called Page and Co. a “seminal heavy metal band.” AllMusic’s Stephen Erlewine went so far as to dub Led Zeppelin the “definitive heavy metal band.”

Meanwhile authors like Steve Waksman, in his 2001 book Instruments of Desire, simply credited Led Zeppelin’s 1969 release II as having been “the musical starting point for heavy metal.”

Over time, Page reminds, Zeppelin moved past its earliest penchants for both the blues and hard rock, brilliantly combining additional elements of folk and world music before breaking up in 1980.

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