PHOTO: Michael Ochs Archives | Getty Images: Jimmy Page in 1970.
Back before Led Zeppelin existed, Jimmy Page owned a 1960 Gibson “Black Beauty” Les Paul that sported a Bigsby B7 trem. He played the guitar through the Sixties on numerous studio sessions and continued using it into Zeppelin’s early years. The Black Beauty made a rare appearance when the group played the Royal Albert Hall in January 1970, and a photo of Page with the guitar was on the cover of the CD Jimmy Page and His Heavy Friends: Hip Young Guitar Slinger.
Three months later, it was gone. The guitar was stolen from an airport that April and presumed lost, much like Peter Frampton’s own Black Beauty was thought to be gone forever after a plane carrying it and other gear crashed in Caracas, Venezuela, in November 1980. (It was plucked from the burning wreckage and sold to a musician and eventually returned to Frampton in late 2011.)
Bigsby.com reported in early April that the guitar was rumored to have been found and returned to Page with the help of guitar collector Perry Margouleff.
The report has not been verified by former Led Zeppelin roadie Henry “the Horse” Smith, who confirmed the news on Facebook.
“Glad to announce the Black Beauty is now back in the hands of Jimmy thanks in part to Perry Margouleff,” Smith wrote. “This happened just a few months ago. It was a happy day for me to see Jimmy get this back.”
Page owned other Bigsby-loaded Black Beauties over the years. There’s no telling if this is the one with which he found fame, but if it is, this is a very special reunion. Here’s hoping Page releases a video of him playing the guitar.
In the meantime, here’s a classic video of Led Zeppelin at the Royal Albert Hall. Page not demonstrates his mastery of Bigsby, he does while paying homage to Eddie Cochran, another hero in the Bigsby world.