Jimmy Page Keeps It Short at Berklee College of Music’s Commencement
Talk about keeping it short and sweet. At Berklee College of Music’s commencement ceremony on Saturday, Led Zeppelin guitarist Jimmy Page gave an address at Agganis Arena that lasted only a couple of minutes.
The legendary musician did have a different speech prepared, but decided to speak from the heart after attending Berklee’s commencement concert the night before, where students performed tributes including Led Zeppelin’s “Kashmir” and a medley of “Stairway to Heaven,” “Dazed and Confused,” and “Whole Lotta Love.”
“After the experience of listening to the concert last night, this speech is rendered useless,” Page said. “So here I am—a busking musician trying to busk my speech.”
The phrase “quality over quantity” can certainly be applied here. While many commencement addresses clock in anywhere from 10 to 30 minutes, Page’s joins a list of brief yet memorable graduation speeches in history. See: Winston Churchill’s “Never Give In” from 1941.
Page shared several nuggets of wisdom with Berklee’s graduating class, including what life was like pre-Led Zeppelin and what it was like being a self-taught guitarist:
There were serious competitors there. Everyone was fluent with their music reading. I had to come on very, very quickly in leaps and bounds, and it was quite a sort of pressurized moment. … I just wanted to give you that little bit of empathy and understanding, how music reading is a major part of it. Once you can read, you can write it down, and for me, that was really quite an asset.
After being presented his honorary music doctorate, Page left Berklee’s graduating class of 2014 with one final thought:
Music has so much power across so many avenues, but to be in a position where you’ve done the thing that you’re pretty much best at, which is making music, and bringing joy and pleasure to other people… it can’t really be much better than that, can it? I pass that on to all of you.
Here, watch Jimmy Page’s brief yet endearing address to Berklee’s class of 2014: