Dr. James Patrick Page Gives 2014 Berklee Commencement Speech
"Absolutely so elating! To feel all of the energy coming from you graduates. Congratulations to you and the families as well. " Jimmy Page.
Page took the stage with a friendly giggle and his gentleman's British accent saying, "Well, Good Morning, I had to check my watch there to make sure it was the morning." He quickly relaxed the crowd who laughed along with him.
It was the student tribute performance that Page noted as the inspiration for his commencement speech. He was so impressed with the concert from the students the night before, that he put aside his prepared talk as "rendered useless," in order to share the true moment with the Berklee community. He humbly called himself a "busking musician, trying to busk my speech."
"The quality of the musicianship last night was really moving, right across the whole of the different genres that were being played and thank you so much for the interpretation of my music, that was really touching."
His review of Valerie Simpson's performance as "superb," brought cheers from the crowd. He was also impressed with the brass sections, "so powerful, so precise and so punchy - and everything about what a good brass section should be about - fantastic soloist there - it was just moving across from the whole of the evening's event."
Page was honest with the audience about being a self-taught session musician who learned from listening to records of his own guitar heroes. He could not read music, but could read the chord charts. Page acknowledged that he had to know "quite a wide variety of music," a full range of styles, instruments and fields. He talked about not being "the stylist in your own sort of field" but he had to have techniques "evolve."
Acoustic, folk picking, and slide guitar, were among the many skills he had to learn on his own to be able to fit in with any band assigned during his session work. He shared with students seriously, about how it was a "closed shop" in session music back then, and how you had to have "discipline" to play, because if you made even one mistake, "you wouldn't be seen again." The two and a half year studio role exposed Page to TV jingles, movie soundtracks such as Goldfinger, The Kinks among other projects, all of which Page indicates was "wonderful and colorful."
He shared with the audience that one day, the notes were passed out and he had to learn to read music in a very serious way to keep up with competitors. He closed his talk with reverence and honor to the students and their families for their diligence to music and inspirations along the way.