“In snowbound Tokamachi, Japan, teenaged Akio Sakurai took refuge in his room, escaping to another world with a pair of headphones and a pile of Led Zeppelin records,” reads the blurb accompanying the trailer’s release. “Moving to Tokyo, Akio worked as a kimono salesman by day, but by night became ‘Mr. Jimmy,’ adopting the guitar chops and persona of Jimmy Page.”
Akio would go on to play the role of Jimmy Page for 30 years, performing uncannily accurate Led Zeppelin covers in Tokyo clubs. And one evening, while in Tokyo to promote the Celebration Day film, the Zeppelin man himself stopped by the Gigabar Club to watch him perform.
“He said to me after the show, ‘You take me back to that time. You remind me what I did on the stage,’” Akio told the South China Morning Post in 2019.
Page’s enthusiasm for Akio’s performance inspired him to quit his job and join a Led Zeppelin tribute act in Los Angeles. The film goes on to reveal how Akio struggled in his new home, before Jason Bonham – son of original Led Zeppelin drummer John – offered him an audition to join his own tribute show, John Bonham’s Led Zeppelin Evening,
“There is only one Mr. Jimmy Page: virtuoso musician, visionary producer, iconic onstage performer, and a composer whose works will last as long as those of Beethoven and Bach,” Mr Jimmy director Peter Michael Dowd, who spent eight years putting the project together, told Deadline. “Every rock’n’roll fan knows the feeling of ‘I want to be Jimmy Page!’
“Akio Sakurai has transformed that feeling into a lifelong homage to Mr. Page, and after forty years of performing as ‘Mr. Jimmy,’ the world is finally witnessing the fruits of his hard work, while once again realising the singularity of Mr. Jimmy Page. It’s been an eight-year journey making this film, made with blood, sweat, and credit card debt, and I couldn’t be more proud.”
My Jimmy is screening from September 1. For show times, visit the official website.