Today in 1982 Jimmy Page’s first post-Zeppelin work was released: the soundtrack to the film Death Wish II.
It’s Page’s only solo material to appear on Led Zeppelin’s record label Swan Song Records. The soundtrack features Dave Mattacks from Fairport Convention, former Pretty Things keyboards player Gordon Edwards, and veteran singer Chris Farlowe (who also later appeared on Page’s 1988 solo album Outrider).
Jimmy tells it:
“Around July 1981, I was contacted by director Michael Winner to view a rough cut of his latest film, Death Wish II; the second film in what was to become a popular series of cult thrillers. When I viewed this film the required music sections had been identified; it was ninety minutes long and would need forty-five minutes of music, from pieces barely a few seconds in length through to the longest piece – a chase section lasting five minutes and fifty seconds. Michael asked me if I would like to compose the soundtrack. At this time I had my own studio, The Sol, and saw this as being an exciting challenge.”
Director Michael Winner tells it:
“I’d lived next door to Jimmy for many years. It was a very bad time for him – the drummer (John Bonham of Led Zeppelin) had died several months prior, and he was in a very inactive period. (Led Zeppelin manager) Peter Grant and I made arrangements for Jimmy to do the Death Wish II score, for which he wasn’t actually paid, because Grant wanted to restore Jimmy back to creativity. Jimmy rang the doorbell, and I thought if the wind blew he’d fall over; he looked so frail. He saw the film, we spotted where the music was to go, and then he said to me “I’m going to my studio. I don’t want you anywhere near me, I’m going to do it all on my own.” My editing staff said this was bloody dangerous! Anyway, we gave him the film, we gave him the timings, and he did it all on his own. Everything hit the button totally! I’ve never seen a more professional score in my life.”