The press agent in London was getting the same question all day: Which finger was it?
The digit in question belonged to Jimmy Page, guitar magus of Led Zeppelin. And according to a statement issued Thursday afternoon, it had been fractured the previous weekend, forcing the group to delay its megaticket reunion concert in London by two weeks, to Dec. 10.
"Led Zeppelin have always set very high standards for ourselves," Page said in the statement, "and we feel that this postponement will enable my injury to properly heal, and permit us to perform at the level that both the band and our fans have always been accustomed to."
But the announcement did not say which finger, on which hand, was affected. Nor did it explain the circumstances of the injury.
Right on cue, blogs and message boards caught fire with speculation, parsing the language of the release and debating whether the injury was real. Was it a sign that rehearsals were not going well? Was Robert Plant, the singer, spending too much time promoting his new album with Alison Krauss? "I can just sense the conspiracy theories already spreading," read one entry on the ledzeppelin.com forum.
Despite the efforts of the international press corps, neither the band nor the organizers of the concert -- a benefit tribute to Ahmet Ertegun, a founder of Led Zeppelin's label, Atlantic -- were offering any further details.
"Everyone wants to know about Jimmy's finger," said the concert's publicist, Chris Goodman, with a chuckle. "I've never had so much interest in fingers."
Page is to make a public appearance today at the Classic Rock Roll of Honour in London, where he is to receive a Living Legend award. The telephoto lenses, presumably, will be focused on his hands.
On Friday, it was not just Page's finger fans were worried about. More than a million people around the world had entered a lottery for a chance to buy one of the 20,000 tickets (125 pounds each, or $260, plus fees) for the Nov. 26 concert at the O2 Arena, and fans commiserated over airline ticket-exchange fees, tricky hotel reservations or worse.
Andrew Welder, a 28-year-old sommelier in Manhattan, had bought a $600 airline ticket Thursday morning, just hours before the announcement of the date change. He won't be able to get the time off to go to the rescheduled show, he said.
Online, fans analyzed Zeppelin history carefully for any clues about what might be going on behind the scenes. Among the topics was Page's recent habit of canceling concerts because of sometimes-vague medical conditions.
One blogger noted an irony from Led Zeppelin's glory days. In early 1975, just as the band was about to begin a big tour, Page broke the ring finger of his left hand -- "the most important finger for a guitarist," he said at the time, the blogger wrote.
The tour was deemed too important to postpone, and Page played anyway.