Jimmy Page’s influence on classic rock music goes beyond his exceptional guitar solos. As the founder and guitarist of Led Zeppelin, he put together a band of equally talented musicians. Page’s approach to producing also revolutionized the way hard rock albums were made in the 1970s. However, Page’s music career could have ended before it even began when his friend and fellow Yardbirds bandmate Chris Dreja nearly killed him in his sleep.
Jimmy Page, the renowned guitarist and member of the English rock band Led Zeppelin, was involved in a near-fatal accident with his friend and fellow Yardbirds bandmate Chris Dreja. Since Page didn’t drive, he frequently relied on Dreja to transport him to gigs. On one late-night ride home from a concert, Dreja was behind the wheel while Page rested. However, Dreja’s driving became reckless and almost resulted in a tragic accident that could have claimed Page’s life. As Dreja shared in Brad Tolinski’s book Light & Shade: Conversations With Jimmy Page, the incident was a close call for the guitarist.
“I owned a Mini Cooper S, which was so light and so ridiculously overpowered. Stupid car — but what a drive! We’d come back from gigs late at night, and back then, there were hardly any [highways]. You’d have to drive miles through country lanes.
“Jimmy doesn’t know that I nearly killed him. I never told him this story, but I was coming around this corner out of a village at eighty or ninety miles an hour, and there was a f****** donkey in the road. He’s asleep. I missed this donkey by this much. We would have been legends in our own death.”
According to Dreja’s account in the book Light & Shade: Conversations With Jimmy Page, he used to swerve the car back and forth to make Page’s head bang and see how much he could do it before Page woke up. The reckless driving of Dreja had put both their lives in danger, and Page was fortunate to have survived long enough to form Led Zeppelin.
Although Led Zeppelin members Jimmy Page and John Bonham had their fair share of car experiences, it was actually singer Robert Plant who had the worst luck with cars. During a vacation in Greece in 1975, Plant, his wife, and children were severely injured when their car went off the road. Plant wrote from a wheelchair while the band worked on their album Presence. In 1970, Plant had another car crash that almost ended Led Zeppelin, leaving him with memory loss due to the injuries. Despite Page’s close call with Dreja’s reckless driving, they both avoided hitting a donkey and went on to achieve success with Led Zeppelin, with Dreja contributing to the back cover photo on their debut album.