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15 Years Ago: Jimmy Page Wins ‘Satanist’ Libel Lawsuit

Jimmy Page
Marc S. Canter, Getty Images

In March of 2000, one of the uglier stories to surface in the wake of John Bonham‘s death ended in a legal victory for Jimmy Page.

The report in question, published by Ministry Magazine in August of 1999, used the fact that Bonham died in his Led Zeppelin bandmate’s home as the basis for accusing Page of having “selfishly and stupidly caused or contributed” to Bonham’s death on Sept. 25, 1980, alleging that Page was more worried about keeping Bonham’s vomit off his bed than helping him survive — and imagining a weird and insulting fantasy scenario in which Page donned “Satanist robes” and attempted to cast a spell over his dying friend.

The article added undue insult and injury to an incident that had already cast a profound pall over Page — not only personally, but professionally, as Led Zeppelin decided to break up mere months after Bonham’s passing, bringing an end to one of rock’s most exciting bands. Not willing to let Ministry’s gaffe pass without punishment, he took the magazine to to court.

The case ended with a quick vindication for Page. According to the BBC, publishers Ministry Magazines Ltd. and editor Scott Manson “expressed their sincere apologies for the distress and embarrassment caused and had agreed to pay Page substantial damages, as well as his legal costs.”

In the end, some good came out of the ugly untruths. Page’s attorney, Norman Chapman, told reporters that Page would be taking the settlement — which remained undisclosed — and donating it to his favorite charity, the Action for Brazil’s Children Trust, an organization dedicated to bringing education and basic health services to youth in that country’s most densely populated slums.

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