Jeff Beck Cried When Jimmy Page Played Led Zeppelin’s Version of ‘You Shook Me,’ and it May Have Been Because Zep’s Version Is Far Better

Jimmy Page helped write the book on classic rock with Led Zeppelin. Between his guitar playing, John Bonham’s drumming, Robert Plant’s distinct vocals, and John Paul Jones’ underrated instrumentation, Led Zeppelin albums were essential for rock fans of the 1960s and beyond. Zep’s founding guitarist had a plan on Led Zeppelin I, but making Jeff Beck cry when Page played the record for him might not have been part of it. Still, we can see why Beck shed tears when he heard Led Zeppelin’s version of “You Shook Me” — Page’s band thoroughly upstaged Beck’s version of the tune in every way.

Jeff Beck (from left) and Led Zeppelin's Robert Plant and Jimmy Page at an event in 1983.
(l-r) Jeff Beck and Led Zeppelin’s Robert Plant and Jimmy Page | Dave Hogan/Getty Images

Jeff Beck cried when Jimmy Page played him Led Zeppelin’s version of ‘You Shook Me’

Once upon a time, Page recommended his friend Beck for the Yardbirds (and received a gift for not taking the job). That was in 1965. Fast forward to 1968, and Beck’s solo career started taking flight as Page looked to form a new band after his stint playing guitar in the Yardbirds ended when the band broke up. 

Willie Dixon’s “You Shook Me” regularly appeared in Beck’s live set. It became one of his earliest signature songs. Rod Stewart sang while Beck played precision blues licks underneath the vocals. His version was a fan favorite that allowed Beck to showcase his guitar skills. The song was also one of the blues staples Led Zeppelin turned to as it recorded their first album. 

As he shopped the album around to record labels, Page played a rough cut of the album for his friend when they crossed paths in New York. According to C.M. Kushins, author of the Bonham biography Beast, Beck cried when he heard Led Zeppelin’s version:

“I looked at him and said, ‘Jim, what?’ And the tears were coming out with anger.”

Jeff Beck

Beck cried with anger when Page played Led Zeppelin’s version of “You Shook Me.” We can see why he shed tears, and it’s not just because he was seeing red.

Led Zeppelin did ‘You Shook Me’ much better than Page’s friend did

Beck cried in anger when he first heard it, but perhaps he later realized the truth — Led Zeppelin did “You Shook Me” much better than he ever did.

Plant’s vocals and Page’s guitar match notes during the first two minutes of the Zep song, and that’s about as close as the two versions come to matching. From there, the version Page played for Beck goes off in its own direction.

Jones comes in with an electric organ solo that somehow blends blues and gospel music. Beck’s take has a piano backing track on the studio cut, but nothing like what Jones adds to the Led Zeppelin version. 

Then Plant plays a harmonica solo (yes, he wasn’t only a singer), which helps give it a delta blues feel. But the moment where Led Zeppelin bests Beck in the battle of the best “You Shook Me” is Page’s guitar solo.

Not only does the song feature one of Page’s best guitar solos, but then Bonham, who more or less plays a steady shuffle beat for most of the song, launches into a drum fill that grabs part of the spotlight from his guitarist. You won’t find that on Beck’s version.

Beck’s version of the song stays closer to the original

Dixon’s “You Shook Me” is a straightforward slow-paced tune. Beck’s version hews close to the original, and there’s something noble about maintaining the purity and essence of the original. 

The vocals are the closest similarity between Beck’s take on the song and the version Page played for him. Rod Stewart and Robert Plant possess similar deliveries, even down to their scratchy-throat singing styles. Beck displays some guitar heroics a la Page, but not nearly to the same extent. (Credit where credit is department: Beck’s version of Dixon’s “I Ain’t Superstitious” is an excellent showcase of his guitar skills, especially his delicate control of his wah-wah pedal).

Page and Led Zeppelin use the original “You Shook Me” as inspiration, but then they raise the bar several notches. Each band member has a chance to shine on the Zep song, and each one does. 

Beck cried tears of anger when Page played him Zep’s version of “You Shook Me,” but they might as well have been tears of jealousy. His friend’s band took one of the songs he loved performing and blew it out of the water.

There were no grudges between the guitar-playing friends


Jimmy Page Once Brutally Called Out the Famous Artists He Worked With

Even though Page and Led Zeppelin took a signature Beck tune to the next level, it seems he didn’t hold a grudge.

Beck and Page shared the stage during the Action into Research for Multiple Sclerosis (ARMS) benefit concert in 1983. What was initially supposed to be a one-off show turned into a mini tour with Beck and Page performing together at each stop, according to Guitar World.

Nearly three decades later, Page inducted Beck into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame as a solo artist. The 2009 honor was the second induction for Beck. Both guitarists entered the hall as members of the Yardbirds in 1992.

Jeff Beck cried when Jimmy Page played Led Zeppelin’s take on “You Shook Me” because he was so angry. Beck’s version hewed closer to the blues original, but Zep took the song to a whole new level. Still, any bad blood between the two guitar legends didn’t last long.

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