Jimmy Page wanted to create a faithful recreation of Link Wray’s iconic instrumental song “Rumble” for his surprise performance at the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony on November 3, the two musicians who performed with Page on stage tell LedZepNews.
Page’s surprise performance at the ceremony, his first time on stage since 2015, shocked fans despite the plans being leaked online days earlier.
To recreate Wray’s song “Rumble” for the show, Page recruited jazz bass player Tim Givens and drummer Anton Fig who previously performed and recorded with Wray and is also known for performing in the house band on David Letterman’s late night shows.
Speaking to LedZepNews the day after the much-discussed performance, both men said that they joined the temporary band via Perry Margouleff, a music producer, guitarist and guitar collector who is a long term associate of Page and played a key role in reuniting Page with his lost “Black Beauty” guitar.
Givens knew Margouleff through jazz pianist and composer Cecilia Coleman, he explains. “Perry needed an upright bass for this as he and Jimmy really wanted a faithful recreation of the original ‘Rumble’ recording which was done on upright bass,” Givens says.
Margouleff “was instrumental in getting me involved in honouring Link at the awards ceremony,” Fig tells LedZepNews.
Performing alongside Fig gave Page a direct link to Wray, as the two men had performed and recorded together. “I played a lot with Link in the seventies and early eighties, both with Robert Gordon’s band and on his solo projects. I did two albums with him, Bullshot and Live at the Paradiso, and wrote some songs with him. We were also good friends,” Fig says.
According to Fig, “Link was a life force and so instrumental in influencing other guitarists. His raw style and distortion paved the way for the sound that came beyond him.”
Planning the surprise performance
Givens and Fig rehearsed together “a couple of times”, Givens says, before they rehearsed with Page in New York before the ceremony.
“We met with Jimmy a few days ago and ran through it a few times,” Givens says. “Jimmy really brought it at the performance and it was obvious in talking to him what this meant to him.”
Much speculation has taken place about Page’s choice of a Gibson EDS-1275 doubleneck guitar for the performance, especially as he only used the 12-string neck on stage. Was the choice of guitar for aesthetic reasons? After all, it did lead to one fan at the ceremony shouting “doubleneck, doubleneck, doubleneck” in a video shot from the crowd.
Givens was unsure why Page chose that guitar, saying: “All I was told was he wanted to do it on 12 string.”
For Givens, an accomplished jazz performer, the biggest task was delivering the “faithful recreation” of the song that Page wanted to create.
“I originally wanted to play something in the flavour of the original line but the more I got into it, the more I came around to doing it as more of an exact note for note. And once I did that it really came together,” he says.
“One point that Perry made, I think along with Jimmy, was how important this quirky, nasty original bass line was, and I agree,” Givens continues. “The performance I did was very, very close note for note to the original bass line.”
Givens worked with bass player Tony Garnier to figure out the bass part for the performance. “He worked with Link, I think along with Anton, back in the day and if he wasn’t playing with Bob Dylan he would have been doing this performance,” he says. “We traded some transcribed bass lines back and forth a couple times.”
Fig’s drum part was also designed to be close to the original single. “Jimmy wanted us to stick closely to the original,” he says. “The bass drum part did not have a uniform pattern so I had to learn that, as Jimmy felt that all the nuances had to be respected in our performance.”
For Fig, who knew Wray and performed with him, honouring him through the performance alongside Page was a special opportunity. “It was an honour to play with Jimmy and to be involved in inducting Link Wray into the Hall of Fame,” he says.