Akio Sakurai is Mr. Jimmy. A Japanese son of a Kimono designer, Akio became entranced with Led Zeppelin at the age of 19 after seeing The Song Remains the Same. Specifically smitten with the great Jimmy Page. In the last 35 years, Sakurai has set out to go beyond being a tributary to Jimmy Page’s musician styling. He has instead attempted to transcend into being the rock legend, well as close to that as humanly possible.
By obtaining bootlegs over time, Mr. Sakurai can not only play all of the various studio tracks, he can play live performances and variations of each track down to the era, year, or even month they were performed. Mr. Jimmy is not content to just emulating the sound, but it goes deeper for him. From the specific guitars used, to the caps or components that are soldered onto the amp, to even the pickup guards, or volume adjustment knobs, everything must be perfect. He even has a seamstress who has developed costume replicas of outfits worn by Jimmy Page live that has been designed from photos and video footage of said live performances.
Playing around Japan for many years with a tribute band, that may have been the end for Mr. Jimmy, but in 2012 Jimmy Page actually went to go see him play for two hours and after that his wife implored him to get out of Japan and go bigger with Mr. Jimmy. That led him to California and the states. He started playing with a band Led Zep again. Things were going great for a while, his band-mates were encouraged to be better at their craft based on Akio’s dedication. Unfortunately, that didn’t have the same kind of last effect, as they are not searching for perfection. Eventually they became frustrated and disenfranchised with his never ending need to be better and to improve. They played over 250 shows together before he left the band. From there he has joined other bands and now even tried out and was asked to tour with Jason Bonham (son of Led Zeppelin drummer John Bonham).
It’s hard to know what Mr. Jimmy’ s end goal is, but his commitment and dedication is so impressive it’s somewhere between insanity and ingenious. There’s a point in the documentary where a friend of Akio is comparing American’s or British folks to Japanese. Where American’s have showmanship and presence, Japanese must make up for in accuracy. Also what Akio or Mr. Jimmy is trying to attain is “very Japanese”. Jimmy Page himself, probably doesn’t consider all of the particulars and pieces to become perfect, that’s where Mr. Jimmy self-admittedly understands his perfection may have turned into obsession. He truly believes, this is what he was born to do and so if it’s fatalistic, can you tell an incredible guitar player to just be something else?