Today in 2009 a 1962 handwritten letter from Jimmy Page to his American pen pal Ronnie Kellerman (at the time, head of the Jerry Lee Lewis fan club and Page’s frequent correspondent) sold at a Christie’s Rock & Roll auction for $12,500. Page was 18 years old at the time it was written, and it would be another 6 years before he would form Led Zeppelin. In the letter Page talked about living on next to nothing as he was trying to pay off his guitar and amp, going to art school, and a new local band called The Beatles. Full text of the letter is below, unedited:
“Dear Ronnie, I’m sorry for the lapse in correspondence but there has been a very good reason. When I last wrote to you I told you the discs would be ready in a couple of days, but when I went to collect them I found that they had messed up the transcription and had to have them done again and in the circumstances I couldn’t write to you in case you thought I was stalling and had ruined the tapes or something. Anyway you’ve got them now, I hope the recording is what you wanted.
In the package I’ve included an L.P. of a show that was on T.V. over here in 1961 called Drumbeat, it has some lousy tracks but it also has good ones, ie the Roy Young’s and John Barry’s.
Have you heard from Sutch lately; his record didn’t get anywhere over here, probably not enough publicity.
I wonder if Sun are going to release any more Jerry Lee tracks now his contract has nearly expired. I know “Cajun Style of Lovin” was never released.
Liverpool groups seem to have swamped the scene over here, but the Beatles are the only ones any good. I expect you’ve heard of them.
In September I am going to Art School which will probably come as a surprise to you. But the truth of the matter is that lately all I want to do is paint and make sculptures so I want to further my education in Art.
I submitted some of my work to the authorities and they are trying to get me a grant which amounts to about $12 a week spending money after your fares, fees and meals are paid, so I’m pretty pleased about it at the moment. However I’m living on next to nothing at the moment as I’m feverishly trying to pay off my guitar and amp which are on hire purchase. You can imagine how much of a struggle it is when I tell you that it was spread over two years and I’m trying to pay it off in 6 months!!!
I did a recording for a radio broadcast with a group (not ours) and I’ll send you a copy; there are 5 numbers.
Another surprise: I am now having a bash at classical guitar and I’m finding it fascinating.
Regarding your questions – I wasn’t on Scarlet O’Hara as Jer and Tony formed their own group after the success of Diamonds and they used their own guitarist, but he doesn’t get much of a hearing till the very end on the fade out.
How’s your group coming along? O.K. I hope, and that you’ve got lots of bookings. I’d still like to hear you playing if you could send me a tape.
I wonder if you could send me an L.P. in payment of the transcription as I think that should be just about equal. Anyhow the L.P. is a new release called Chuck Berry On Stage on Chess Records.
You can send whatever you like for the L.P. With this package I am also going to post some papers; I hope you’ll enjoy looking at them too as well as these enclosed.
Anyhow Ronnie I hope everything is O.K. now, I really must apologise for the gaps before but you know how busy it gets at times.
Hope to here (sic) from you soon.
Your Pal, Jim
P.S. Could you send me any cuttings on modern sculpture and art in the U.S.A. Don’t worry if you can’t.”