Jimmy Page is not sure what powers will be bestowed by his honorary doctorate from the Berklee College of Music. “I can’t flirt with it, can I?” Page asks with a smile.
The Led Zeppelin guitar legend and two-time Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee, of course, was touched by the honor, which puts him in a rarefied group of previously awarded artists that include idols like B.B. King and George Martin. “I know there’s some serious, illustrious company that I’m keeping with this and it’s superb.”
In addition to receiving his degree alongside his three fellow honorees — Songwriters Hall of Fame songwriter Valerie Simpson of Ashford & Simpson, lauded jazz pianist Geri Allen, and Grammy-winning trumpeter-composer Thara Memory — Page will deliver the commencement address at the venerable music school’s graduation ceremony Saturday at the Agganis Arena. Friday he was preparing to hear some of Berklee’s finest pay tribute to him in the annual commencement concert at the venue.
“It’s such a thrill,” says Page of the students learning his songs. “That’s what it’s about as a musician — especially one who’s gone through a few decades — because if you’re passing the music on that’s superb.”
No doubt many in the Berklee Class of 2014 listened to Zeppelin records as kids, and fans will hear those albums anew as the group rolls out a slate of reissues of its entire catalog, featuring companion discs of bonus tracks, starting in June.
Page was the main curator of the massive project and says it was nothing but fun sorting through the hundreds of hours of analog tape. “It was so good to hear everybody playing,” he says.
Now that the archival project is complete, Page, 70, hopes to start playing new music, saying he’s amassed many new songs. “The writing’s on the wall, and the guitar now can be woken up.”