Before becoming one of the most legendary rock guitarists of all time, Jimmy Page made his mark as a session musician. And he was pretty good at it. Page played on The Who’s first hit single and eventually received two invites to join the Yardbirds. He declined both invitations, but Page received his first famous guitar as a gift when he declined the second time.
Jimmy Page turned down two chances to join the Yardbirds
As a session musician, Page played guitar behind a number of notable artists including The Who and The Kinks. His playing was relatively anonymous to fans, but people in the music industry took notice.
One person who noticed Page’s chops was Giorgio Gomelsky. During a sit-down interview at the Fender guitar factory (via YouTube), the guitarist said Gomelsky, once Yardbirds manager, asked him to join the band to replace Eric Clapton. side said no.
Gomelsky offered Page a spot with the Yardbirds a second time. Page, who wanted to remain a session musician, again said no, but this time he recommended his friend Jeff Beck. When the Yardbirds landed a big deal, Beck drove home to Page in a new Corvette and repaid Page in the best way possible.
Page received his first famous guitar as a gift from Jeff Beck
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Beck’s time with the Yardbirds helped launch a career that’s still going strong. Page said Beck repaid him by giving him the guitar he would soon make famous.
“So what happens when Jeff is with the Yardbirds, I still live with my parents in Epsom. I hear this car roar and when I look out the window I see a Corvette Stingray outside,” Page said during the Fender interview. “There’s someone getting out, and of course it’s Jeff.
“And Jeff comes out holding this guitar. and [I thought]’Oh, he came to do a play,’ you know? He knocks on the door and I say, ‘Come in Jeff.’ He tells that they just made a new deal and he bought the Stingray with it. He said, “Here, this is yours,” and he gave me the Telecaster he had been using. “This is yours for bringing me to the Yardbirds.” Well obviously I was really touched because there’s a lot of love in that gesture.”
Jimmy Page describes Jeff Beck’s loving gesture of gifting him his guitar
Beck’s gift of the Fender Telecaster to Page wasn’t just a token gesture. Page played guitar when he joined the Yardbirds and used it throughout the recording of Led Zeppelin’s debut album a few years later.
Page replaced Beck with the Yardbirds before forming Led Zeppelin
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Page didn’t remain a studio musician forever. He joined Beck in the Yardbirds and played bass when the band was still a quintet. Beck and Page played co-lead guitars for a time, but Page took over as the sole six-string slinger when Beck left the band in 1966.
When the Yardbirds splintered in 1968, Page formed Led Zeppelin by recruiting Robert Plant, who brought in drummer John Bonham and former session ace John Paul Jones. Led Zeppelin Iwith Page on guitar, which he got from Beck, landed in early 1969, and the rest is history.
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