Led Zeppelin’s Jimmy Page pays tribute to the influence of Lonnie Donegan on his career

Zeppelin guitarist raves about Donegan's 'Rock Island Line' in new book

Led Zeppelin guitarist Jimmy Page has revealed a surprising early influence, raving about skiffle star Lonnie Donegan in an extract from a new book.

In the book ‘Your Song Changed My Life’ by Bob Boilen, musicians talk about the tracks that impacted on them the most in their early years playing music, with Rolling Stone premiering an extract from the section on Page today.

“I wanted to have my own approach to what I did,” Page says. “I didn’t want to … do a carbon copy of B.B. King, but I really love the blues. The blues had so much effect on me and I just wanted to make my own contribution in my own way.”


Donegan’s 1955 hit ‘Rock Island Line’ led, indirectly, to Page first picking up a guitar in anger.

“He really understood all that stuff, Lonnie Donegan,” Page explained. “But this is the way that he sort of, should we say, jazzed it up or skiffled it up. By the time you get to the end of this he’s really spitting it out … he keeps singing ‘Rock Island line, Rock Island’ [and] you really get this whole staccato aspect of it. It’s fantastic stuff! So many guitarists from the Sixties will all say Lonnie Donegan was [their] influence.”

Listen to the Donegan track via YouTube, below:

Boilen told Rolling Stone of his angle on the connection, explaining “so many Brits of that age talk about skiffle music [and] Donegan was king. But it wasn’t till I began to think of how Donegan changed the blues and ‘skiffled it up’ that I made the connection to how Jimmy Page took Donegan and electrified it to shocking and long-lasting effects.”

Zepellin, meanwhile, faced a different kind of nostalgia this week as a judge found that parts of their smash hit ‘Stairway To Heaven’ may have been plagiarised, with the case set to go to a full trial.


The band will face a jury trial to determine whether they plagiarised the opening section of the 1971 track.

The case was originally brought against the band by Michael Skidmore, a trustee for the late Randy California (real name Randy Wolfe), who played guitar in Spirit. Skidmore argues that Wolfe should be given a writing credit on the track ‘Stairway To Heaven’ as it resembles his band’s 1968 song ‘Taurus’. The two bands toured together in 1968 and 1969.