Skip to main content

Led Zeppelin followed The Rolling Stones and The Beatles as the kings of English music. But why stop at English music? Those three bands were huge in the United States, too. The Beatles led the British invasion, but four of Led Zeppelin’s best selling-albums sold more than 10 million copies (John, Paul, George, and Ringo did it three times). Music fans wouldn’t mix Zeppelin’s bluesy rock with The Beatles’ brand of pop music, but Zep guitarist Jimmy Page once shared his connection to how The Beatles got their name.

Led Zeppelin guitarist Jimmy Page performs at a 1983 benefit concert. Page once explained that playing guitar for a poet was his connection to how The Beatles got their name.
Led Zeppelin guitarist Jimmy Page performs at a 1983 benefit concert | Ross Marino/Getty Images

Jimmy Page was no stranger to The Beatles when he formed Led Zeppelin

Led Zeppelin’s career didn’t overlap with The Beatles’ all that much. The Fab Four started to disintegrate by the time Zeppelin took off (no pun intended). Page had his own thing going with The Yardbirds and Led Zeppelin, but as a working musician, he was familiar with The Beatles.

Page once said the early Beatles’ albums weren’t anything special, but he admitted their craftsmanship and melding of styles influenced musicians to come. Still, as the Fab Four grew during their career, their influence reached Page. 

Page paid homage to George Harrison’s song “Something” from Abbey Road on Zep’s “The Rain Song.” The guitarist played on the A Hard Day’s Night soundtrack in his pre-Zeppelin days, too, but Page’s ties to The Beatles extend to how they got their name in the early 1960s.

Page’s connection to how The Beatles got their name

Before he was a hard rock guitar legend, the leader of the Yardbirds, or an ace studio musician, Page was a young up-and-coming guitarist looking to play anywhere he could. That included playing back up to a poet.

He wouldn’t have been in the room when it happened, but Page revealed his one degree of separation from The Silver Beetles becoming The Beatles during a 2017 talk at Oxford University (via YouTube):

“I was actually here before when I was 16 years old. There was a poet called Royston Ellis who was actually hanging out with The Beatles at some point. As he was sort of a beat poet … from over here, he encouraged The Beatles to change their [name] — they were The Silver Beetles at one time, with two Es — and he said, ‘Why don’t you make it like the beat poets?’

“Basically, he was a poet, and he came here to give a talk, and I was accompanying him on guitar for a couple of his poems. So it’s very interesting that here I am after all of these years.”

Jimmy Page on his connection to how The Beatles got their name

How The Beatles got their name comes with several conflicting theories, but Page’s is as good as any of them. Page, born in January 1944, turned 16 in early 1960. The band that became The Beatles experienced several name changes, including using The Silver Beetles for a time. It’s possible Ellis influenced the change to The Beatles. More than 60 years later, the exact details might be lost to history, but if Page’s story is true, then he was tangentially involved in how The Beatles got their name.

Jimmy Page and Led Zeppelin became the juggernauts of rock music


What Jimmy Page Said Separated Led Zeppelin From The Beatles and Other Bands

The late 1960s were a great time to be a fan of English rock music. The Beatles released The White Album, Abbey Road, and Let it Be before they disintegrated. The Rolling Stones were at the top of their game with Beggars Banquet and Let it Bleed. And Jimmy Page went from The Yardbirds to Led Zeppelin in a matter of weeks. 

Page, Robert Plant, John Paul Jones, and John Bonham quickly went from rehearsing to cutting their first album to receiving the biggest advance ever from Atlantic Records. 

Zeppelin released its first four albums within three years. When The Beatles split, Led Zeppelin tossed its hat in the ring for the biggest band on the planet. A few years later, when Led Zeppelin began eclipsing the Beatles’ box-office milestones, it would be hard to argue they didn’t succeed.

For more on the entertainment world and exclusive interviews, subscribe to Showbiz Cheat Sheet’s YouTube channel.