Jimmy Page Tells the Story of “Kashmir”

One of the most orig­i­nal and dis­tinc­tive songs Led Zep­pelin ever record­ed was the exot­ic, eight-and-a-half minute “Kash­mir,” from the 1975 album Phys­i­cal Graf­fi­ti. In this clip from Davis Guggen­heim’s film It Might Get Loud (2009), Jim­my Page explains the ori­gins of the song to fel­low gui­tarists Jack White and The Edge. Then Page demon­strates it by pick­ing up an old mod­i­fied Dan­elec­tro 59DC Dou­ble Cut­away Stan­dard gui­tar that he played the song with on some of Led Zep­pelin’s tours. (Watch Kash­mir live here.)

In 1973, Page had been exper­i­ment­ing with an alter­na­tive D modal, or DADGAD, tun­ing often used on stringed instru­ments in the Mid­dle East, when he hit upon the hyp­not­ic, ris­ing and falling riff. The song came togeth­er over a peri­od of a cou­ple of years. John Bon­ham added his dis­tinc­tive, over­pow­er­ing drums dur­ing a two-man record­ing ses­sion with Page at Headley Grange. Singer Robert Plant wrote the lyrics while he and Page were dri­ving through the Sahara Desert in South­ern Moroc­co. (Nei­ther Page nor Plant had ever vis­it­ed Kash­mir, in the Himalayas.) Bassist and key­board play­er John Paul Jones added the string and horn arrange­ments the fol­low­ing year. In a 1995 radio inter­view with Aus­tralian jour­nal­ist Richard Kingsmill, Plant recalled his expe­ri­ence with “Kash­mir”:

It was an amaz­ing piece of music to write to, and an incred­i­ble chal­lenge for me. Because of the time sig­na­ture, the whole deal of the song is…not grandiose, but pow­er­ful. It required some kind of epi­thet, or abstract lyri­cal set­ting about the whole idea of life being an adven­ture and being a series of illu­mi­nat­ed moments. But every­thing is not what you see. It was quite a task, because I could­n’t sing it. It was like the song was big­ger than me.

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Relat­ed Con­tent:

Led Zep­pelin Plays One of Its Ear­li­est Con­certs (Dan­ish TV, 1969)

Thir­teen-Year-Old Jim­my Page Makes his BBC Tele­vi­sion Debut in 1957

Hear Led Zeppelin’s Mind-Blow­ing First Record­ed Con­cert Ever (1968)

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Comments (16)
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  • David says:

    love the fan­boy geek-out on white’s face

  • Juliann White says:

    When Page reworked his epic Kash­mir into a song called Come With Me with Puff Dad­dy, lis­ten­ers were new­ly enthralled with the song.

    I wrote two biogra­phies about Jim­my Page, the world’s great­est gui­tar play­er.

  • Bob says:

    Why did you write two biogra­phies? Were they each from dif­fer­ent peri­ods of his life? Just curi­ous.

  • Eddie Lee says:

    Jack & Edge do a good job of keep­ing cool speak­ing with Pagey. I’d be cry­ing when he start­ed doo­dling on that Rick!

  • pooky says:


  • pooky says:


  • mieiri says:

    As I said to a friend, this is a great record, but it is clear by the mid­dle of the ses­sion: they are two giants… and one at the ‘edge’

  • Boleslaw Bierut says:

    is this music at all? same sounds I hear every time a trash col­lec­tor comes around.

    • Anonymoose says:

      1) Yes it is music. Crit­i­cal­ly acclaimed and shiz. By peo­ple far smarter and more rel­e­vant than you.n2) You’re com­plete­ly tone-deaf. Good luck with that.

  • Roger Landes says:

    “…or DADGAD, tun­ing often used on stringed instru­ments in the Mid­dle East…” Ummm.… No, it was­n’t. If the author had actu­al­ly read the Wikipedia arti­cle he linked here he would have known that the tun­ing was cre­at­ed by Eng­lish gui­tarist Dav­ey Gra­ham — tak­ing inspi­ra­tion from hav­ing heard a Moroc­can oud play­er, and that it was used by many folk gui­tarists includ­ing Bert Jan­sch, from whom Mr. Page ‘derived’ a lot of inspi­ra­tion. But no, it was not ‘often used on stringed instru­ments of the Mid­dle East.’

  • Matt Janovic says:

    Yes, and Page & his lawyers ruined Abel Fer­rara’s Bad Lt. by hav­ing it removed from all sub­se­quent ver­sions, all for dol­lars. Con­sid­er­ing what a musi­cal thief Page is, it’s pret­ty hyp­o­crit­i­cal.

  • Pulakit Singh says:

    Some­one please help explain why the name “Kash­mir” was cho­sen??? I can’t find any­thing online to explain this…

  • Matt says:

    They had recent­ly trav­elled there.

  • Mick says:

    In my younger years, I worked as a steam loco­mo­tive fire­man on a tourist rail­road. The engi­neers were retired from ‘real’ rail­roads, and they would say that the ryth­mic chug­ging of the engine made them think of the big band tunes of their youth. For me, it was always “Kash­mir”!

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