GWYNEDD, WALES—Calling it the planet's last, best hope for saving rock music, the Guardians of the Protectorate of Rock announced Monday that they would take the extraordinary step of unleashing a never-before-heard Jimmy Page riff, hidden for decades in a mythic, impenetrable vault.
"We who believe in the immortality of rock took a vow 30 years ago that we would never release this incredibly powerful force unless we faced a Day of Reckoning—and that day has come," said Black Sabbath guitarist Tony Iommi, one of the chosen few who helped forge the Secret Vault to Save Rock and Roll, at a press conference in the Welsh highlands. "Just look at the pop charts, and you shall know I speak the truth."
"Let's give rock and roll its fucking balls back," he added.
The Guardians said recent developments in the music world, such as the unaccountable popularity of the Dixie Chicks and Sufjan Stevens, have created a "perfect storm of lameness" from which rock might never recover. While Iommi refused to say when the vault would be opened, hard rock sources believe it will take place just prior to next month's Fall Out Boy–Honda Civic tour, which many fear will suck the remaining lifeblood from all that still rocks.
"Citizens of Rock, we refuse to stand idly by any longer," ZZ Top founder and Protectorate High Elder Billy Gibbons said. "When a puss like James Blunt is allowed to rule the airwaves, we must respond by exposing this monster riff, and blowing minds into the stratosphere."
The Protectorate, devoted to the preservation of badass jams and blistering guitar solos, was reportedly formed in the 1970s during the rise of adult contemporary music. According to legend, the riff, played only once by Page and recorded on a special cobalt record, contains the raw power, mind-blowing skill, and unbridled passion of all the Guardians combined. Recently translated parchments from the era describe it as a soul-searing power-chord progression faintly resembling a cross between "Smoke On The Water" and "Living Loving Maid," but "basically defying all description."
It is believed that, upon the riff's release, even those who claim that the genre is dead will have no choice but to pump their fists, bang their heads, and bow down to the gods of rock for all eternity.
"May God have mercy on our souls for what we are going to set loose upon the world," proclaimed Queen guitarist Brian May, dressed in druidic robes and bathed in the rising blue smoke of a nearby fog machine. "Will it save rock or destroy mankind? We have no way of knowing—yet we have no other choice."
Members of the Protectorate were each given only partial information about the location of the vault, which they were instructed to open in unison only in the event of a total Rockopalypse. While some believed the vault was buried in Boston, Chicago, Kansas, Europe, or Asia, others claimed it could be found in the Court of the Crimson King.
However, after piecing together clues hidden in Yes album covers and Pink Floyd liner notes, rock historians now believe the riff is locked away deep beneath the Welsh countryside house known as Bron-Yr-Aur, at rock-grid coordinates SH735026. British weather satellites have also photographed an enormous cloud, shaped like a hybrid of an upside-down question mark and cross, forming above these exact coordinates.
The vault's Key, regarded as too staggering a burden for any one man to bear, was divided in two parts, with half entrusted to Eddie Van Halen and half to David Lee Roth, shortly after Roth left the rock supergroup Van Halen. The two men, who have refused to work together for 20 years, recently announced plans for a historic reunion tour.
"Before we shake Heaven and Earth with the vicious power of this riff, we of the High Council of Elders of the Guardians of the Protectorate of Rock ask you: Are you about to rock?" AC/DC guitarist Angus Young said. "If so, we salute you."
When asked to comment on the possible dangers of using the riff, Sir Paul McCartney seemed surprised.
"There's a secret vault to save rock and roll?" McCartney said. "This is the first I've heard of it."