"It's the sort of stuff that can't be taught" – Jimmy Page performs onstage for the first time in eight years with tribute to Link Wray

Jimmy Page performs onstage during 38th Annual Rock & Roll Hall Of Fame Induction Ceremony at Barclays Center on November 03, 2023 in New York City
(Image credit: Mike Coppola/WireImage)

The Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame may divide opinion but surely we can all agree it's great to see Jimmy Page back onstage playing guitar again. This year's induction ceremony saw the Led Zeppelin legend step into the spotlight with his EDS-1275 for the first time in eights years to pay tribute to Link Wray with a performance of his groundbreaking instrumental, Rumble.

It was  Jimmy Page’s first first public guitar performance since he joined al all-star band at end of the Founders Award ceremony at the EMP Museum in Seattle on 17th November 2015.

"I first heard Link Wray's music via the Rumble and it was when I was 14 years old," Page said in a video introduction during the Link Wray tribute at the November 3 ceremony at New York City's Barclays Center to give him the Musical Influence Award. "It wasn't necessarily the sort of music that was being played on BBC radio, but I heard it on a jukebox.

"The first time I heard it I remember listening with such awe because I thought, what is this?! In those days there were many guitar instruments but as a 14-year-old kid who barely played the guitar, it really had an effect on me.

It's the essence of cool

"The vigour in it… the power in it, and you know something else, it was fearless," marvelled Page in his speech inducting his hero. "It was just phenomenal. It's the essence of cool. It's just a masterpiece that melted its way into the fibres of my body and my consciousness as far as the drama that you can set up with six strings. It's the sort of stuff that can't be taught. It's the sort of stuff that you feel and you can take onboard if you're lucky." 

After the video, the lights came up to reveal Page and his Gibson EDS-1275 strumming Rumble's menacing opening chords, with the 12-string guitar half adding gravitas with the Rock Hall house band of the evening. 

Elsewhere at the ceremony, Rage Against The Machine's induction was notable for 3/4 of the band declining to attend, leaving only Tom Morello to represent the four-piece. Following Ice-T's opening speech inducting the band, Morello took the stage. 

Like most bands, we have differing perspectives on a lot of things, including being inducted into the Rock Hall

"My name is Tom Morello, and I am one-quarter of Rage Against the Machine. I am deeply grateful for the musical chemistry I’ve had the good fortune to share with Brad Wilk, Tim Commerford, and Zach de la Rocha," Morello began in his induction speech. 

"Like most bands, we have differing perspectives on a lot of things, including being inducted into the Rock Hall. My perspective is that tonight is a great opportunity to celebrate the music and the mission of the band—to celebrate the fifth member of the band, which is Rage Against the Machine’s incredible fans. The only reason we are here and the best way to celebrate this music is for you to carry on that mission and that message."

Later in the speech Morello called upon those watching for action – to take up the baton the Rage carried to push for positive changes.

"Rage is not here, but you are," said Morello. "The job we set out to do is not over. Now you are the ones who must testify. If you've got a boss, join a union. If you're a student, start an underground paper. If you're an anarchist for a brick, if you're a soldier or a cop, follow your conscience, not your orders. If you're bummed out, you didn't get to see Rage Against the Machine, then form your own band and let's hear what you have to say. If you're a human being, stand up for your planet before it's too late.

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Tom Morello

(Image credit: Joby Sessions / Future)

Tom Morello shows us his Rage Against The Machine guitars

"So tomorrow, crank up some Rage and head out and confront injustice," added Morello. "Wherever it rears its ugly head, it's time to change the world, brothers and sisters, or at a bare minimum to stir up a shit load of trouble. And finally, special thanks to my mom, Mary Morello, a retired public high school teacher, a proud Rage Against the Machine fan and a lifelong radical who turned 100 years old a couple of weeks ago. She's watching at home tonight, but she asked me to tell you this: History, like music is not something that happens. It's something you make. Thank you very much."

Other inductees for 2023 included Missy Elliott, Sheryl Crow, George Michael, Willie Nelson and The Spinners. The latter vocal group saw an electrifying performance from New Edition performing a medley of their hits. Chaka Khan, Al Kooper, and Elton John lyricist Bernie Taupin received the Musical Excellence Awards, while DJ Cool Herc also received a Musical Influence Award alongside Wray. 

Nelson, 90, was inducted by Dave Matthews and performed his song Whiskey River with Chris Stapleton during the ceremony on his trusty old acoustic guitar, Trigger. 

Stapleton returned to perform a tribute to the late Robbie Robertson alongside Elton John, Brittany Howard and inductee Sheryl Crow with a performance of The Weight by The Band. Elton had earlier paid tribute to his longtime songwriting collaborator, Taupin. 

Kate Bush didn't attend the ceremony but St Vincent took up the challenge of performing her vocally challenging 1985 hit Running Up That Hill. 

Fresh from her star turn with the Foo Fighters on Saturday Night Live, H.E.R joined Chaka Khan for a duet on Sweet Thing - and this time her Blue Marlin Fender signature Strat was very much present and correct. 

Rob Laing
Guitars Editor, MusicRadar

I'm the Guitars Editor for MusicRadar, handling news, reviews, features, tuition, advice for the strings side of the site and everything in between. Before MusicRadar I worked on guitar magazines for 15 years, including Editor of Total Guitar in the UK. When I'm not rejigging pedalboards I'm usually thinking about rejigging pedalboards.