"Here comes Joe the Jammer," is what Robert Plant and Jimmy Page used to say when they saw Page's guitar tech Joe Wright coming their way.
Wright got his start playing rock 'n' roll at the legendary Windy City concert haunt The Kinetic Playground on Clark Street near Lawrence.
Wright organized the venue's Tuesday night jam sessions and owner Aaron Russo would let him in to see the concerts for free.
That's how he met Led Zeppelin backstage, before they played their first Chicago concert on Feb. 7, 1969, when they were booked as the opening act for Vanilla Fudge.
"No one had really heard of Led Zeppelin yet, but it featured Jimmy Page from the Yardbirds, and I was a big fan of the Yardbirds," Wright said.
right eventually signed on with the rising British rock group as a roadie and later became Page's guitar tech.
As his friendship with Page grew, Wright would often jam with him in his dressing room before a gig. Sometimes he was invited on stage, introduced by his new moniker "Joe Jammer."
Eventually, he went to England by Zep's manager, Peter Grant, who hooked the young American axe man up with renown British producer Mickey Most.
After forming The Joe Jammer Band, songs were recorded and he opened for Zeppelin, including the prestigious Festival Of Bath in June 1970.
Jammer later went on to play guitar for European singer Maggie Bell, the opening act on Bad Company's 1975 world tour.
Albums were made, tours were done, and Jammer did some elbow rubbing with major rock stars of the day, including Jeff Beck and Eric Clapton.
After spending most of the 1980s in Canada, Wright returned to Chicago in the late 1990s and has been active in area clubs and recording studios. A few years ago, Jammer wrote a tribute to his favorite sports team, "The White Sox Victory Song."
Though Joe Jammer never attained the fame and fortune of many his early European cohorts, the decades of blood, sweat, tears and hard work he invested are woven into the fabric of every note he plays in his live performances.
A typical show these days finds Jammer with his guitar in hand, ripping through a blend of classic cover songs (many with great stories attached) and his own original songs.
Joe Jammer never became a household name, but his name and reputation is renown and respected in the Chicagoland music community.
Jammer is talented, entertaining, and full of great rock 'n' roll war stories from the road.