I first became acquainted with rock music when I was a kid and I would hear the sweet sounds blasting out of my father’s radio. He has a good ear for solid tunes, and his musical vocabulary is quite broad. In my house, music was and still is a religion. We don’t go anywhere without it.
Growing up, I heard all of the classics: Fleetwood Mac, Tom Petty, the Rolling Stones, Eric Clapton.
As I became older and more understanding of the mature themes in some songs, I began to listen to music that is more complex. I had listened to most every classic rock band out there by the time I reached my early teens, but there is one band that I heard a lot about but wasn’t familiar with — Led Zeppelin.
The band was together only 10 years yet they are one of the all time best-selling acts. They even broke a concert attendance record previously set by the Beatles. There have been much bigger shows since then, but that was a big deal in the mid-1970s considering the popularity of the Beatles.
My father told me about Zeppelin, and how an old friend of his would obsess over learning the mystical guitar licks of Jimmy Page, the band’s lead guitarist.
Even though my father does not play an instrument, he’s very much in tune with the popular guitars on the market. He would tell me about how his friend saved every penny to buy a Gibson Les Paul like the one Jimmy played. I heard about that for years, and when the time was right, I received my first Zeppelin album.
The excitement was hard to hide as I slid the CD into the deck. The sound was unbelievable. It was the most amazing thing I had ever heard in terms of the mixing, the guitar playing and just the overall feel of the different tracks.
There was no denying I had a bug after that. That year’s Christmas list included a new guitar because I was ready to jam like Jimmy. I wanted a Les Paul, too, but what I didn’t realize was how much they cost and the calibre of playing required for a guitar like that.
I was willing to work my way up the scale. I settled for a starter model, understandably, and played it day and night. That went on for a few years until eventually I would invite my father into the jam space to show him how I could shred the Zeppelin tunes. He was happy about his investment, and the fact I actually took the time to dedicate myself to something.
Playing guitar was something I took quite seriously, and I figured I was ready for a Les Paul of my own. In fact, I dreamed about it and everyone knew about my obsession.
My father used to travel back and forth Ontario to work, and it was always exciting when he would return, but one year in particular stands out. I ran outside to meet him as he neared the front door. I asked if he wanted help with anything and all he said was, “There’s a couple things left on the backseat.”
My heart must have skipped 20 beats when I saw the Gibson USA logo on the side of the case. It was, indeed, a Gibson Les Paul. I couldn’t believe it.
It was a very special moment for me. It wasn’t just a guitar — it was a sign of something I had accomplished, the sacrifices my parents made, and it just makes me happy.