Following in the footsteps of (among many other flower-children) Stephen Stills, Bonnie Raitt, Chrissie Hynde, Jimmy Buffet, and Carole King (who in 2002 serenaded Fidel Castro with a personal “You’ve Got a Friend”), guitar legend Jimmy Page made the pilgrimage to Fidel Castro’s fiefdom this week.
To Led Zeppelin’s former guitarist the visit probably seemed, not only fitting, but long overdue. Cuba was, after all, the first nation ruled by bearded long-hairs. Jean Paul Sartre, after all, hailed Cuba’s Stalinist rulers as “les Enfants au Pouvoir" (the children in power). Fidel Castro, after all, spoke at Harvard in 1959 on the same bill as pioneer beatnik Allen Ginsberg.
Remove the wispy beard and beret from the (late, thanks to Fidel Castro) revolutionary icon on those posters and t-shirts and you’ve got Jim Morrison of The Doors. Remove the cowboy hat from the (late, thanks to Fidel Castro) Revolutionary icon Camilo Cienfuegos and you’ve got Grateful Dead’s Gerry Garcia. Circa 1959, Raul Castro with his blond shoulder-length locks was a ringer for Joe Walsh circa Hotel California. These Cuban Stalinists were on the cutting edge of fashion. They pre-empted the Haight Ashbury look by a decade.
Castro’s (literally!) captive media reports that Jimmy Page’s visit “included tours of historic sites and purchases of souvenirs such as the famous photograph of Che Guevara.”
In an interview with the BBC last year, Oscar and Cannes-winner Benicio del Toro explained the painstaking intellectual exertion that inspired his Che-mania: “I hear of this guy, and he’s got a cool name, Che Guevara! Groovy name, groovy man, groovy politics! So I came across a picture of Che, smiling, in fatigues, I thought, ‘Dammit, this guy is cool-looking!’”
In all likelihood, similar intellectual toil inspired Jimmy Page’s recent souvenir shopping spree in Havana.
For his role as Che Guevara in Steven Soderbergh’s movie Che, Benicio del Toro was recently honored by the peace-loving crowd in Hollywood and Cannes. For headlining their Concert for Peace. Jimmy Page was recently honored with the “Global Peace Award" from the United Nations’ Pathway to Peace organization.
Humberto Fontova holds an M.A. in Latin American Studies from Tulane University and is the author of four books including his latest, The Longest Romance; The Mainstream Media and Fidel Castro. For more information and for video clips of his Television and college speaking appearances please visit www.hfontova.com.