Jimmy Page hits high note on Peace Concert

By Chen Nan (China Daily)
Updated: 2010-01-19 09:22
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Jimmy Page hits high note on Peace Concert

Legendary guitarist Jimmy Page was in Beijing last week, with the late Michael Jackson's guitarist Orianthi Panagaris, to promote the first annual Show of Peace Concert, a globally televised event that will take place on April 17 in front of Beijing's Bird's Nest.

Joe Perry, of Aerosmith, also pledged support via video. Other names confirmed for the show included Black Eyed Peas, 50 Cent and Lady Gaga.

Returning to Beijing after his first appearance during the Closing Ceremony of the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games, Page says the Peace Concert will be an occasion for audiences to observe and feel the spirit of music.

"It's such a noble concert, for peace. When you hear of something like this, you sure want to be part of it," he says.

The former Led Zeppelin founder is 66 but still cuts a dash in his black suits. "I am just a musician and a guitarist at this concert," he says humbly.

"As a child, I was fascinated with the guitar because it can be played in different ways on any occasion," he says. "But I didn't focus on one particular style, and I tried to interpret guitar-playing in my own way."

The documentary, It Might Get Loud, directed by Davis Guggenheim, gathers Page, U2's The Edge, and Jack White of The White Stripes.

Page, who was an associate producer of the documentary, says the film tells the story of three, self-taught guitarists, as well as exploring the idea of the guitar as a symbol of peace.

"Now, music is a fashionable thing. But a long, long way back, when I did music 40 years ago, the musical delivery was a communication among people. I think that is also the energy of this concert: for peace is to talk with people via music," he says.

On his second visit to Beijing, Page says he wants to hear more local, live music.

"I prefer real, dynamic music rather than the sound made by computer," he says.

The multi-media music event, produced by Rick Garson, will be a celebrity-filled extravaganza along the lines of Live 8 and Live Aid, and is part of the "peace is green" awareness campaign, which will run for 365 days, from its launch in Beijing, in January.

Garson, who has been executive producer of the Billboard Music Awards and the World Music Awards, didn't reveal detailed information about the concert, but he said he was confident the big names would show up. The all-day event is scheduled to be held in front of the iconic Bird's Nest.

"The concert will see people from every walk of life going wild, and wow," Garson says.

"Peace and the environment are totally connected - one cannot happen without the other," says the producer, who visited China during the Olympics.

"After The Show of Peace Concert in April, we will produce a series of other events during the following year. The Show of Peace campaign will give the public the opportunity to show their passion for these vital causes, and will keep reminding politicians around the world about the public hunger for change."

Garson's experience of the Beijing Olympics gave him the idea to stage The Show of Peace concert in China.

"The passion and attitude of the Chinese people, and the dynamism and potential of this country, made me realize that this was the right place to stage an event as we watch the transformation of Red China to 'Green China' right before our eyes."

The concert is expected to entertain a crowd of 50,000. Because the open area around the stage is limited, many concertgoers will watch the stage from screens placed around the grounds. The potential worldwide TV audience, Garson says, will run into the billions.