Before Jimmy Page became one of the most legendary rock guitarists ever, he cut his teeth as a session musician. And he was pretty good at it. Page played on The Who’s first hit single, and he eventually garnered two invitations to join the Yardbirds. He turned both invites down, 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 noticed.
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, at one time the Yardbirds manager, asked him to join the band to replace Eric Clapton. Page said no.
Gomelsky offered Page a spot in the Yardbirds a second time. Page, wanting to remain a session musician, said no again, but this time, he recommended his friend, Jeff Beck. When the Yardbirds scored a big contract, Beck went to Page’s house in a new Corvette and repaid Page in the best way possible.
Page received his first famous guitar as a gift from Jeff Beck
Beck’s time in the Yardbirds helped launch a career that is still going strong. Page said Beck repaid him by giving him the guitar he’d soon make famous.
“So what happens as a result of Jeff being in the Yardbirds, I’m still living with my parents in Epsom. I hear this car roar up, and I look out the window and I saw it was a Corvette Stingray outside,” Page said during the Fender interview. “There’s somebody getting out, and of course it’s Jeff.
“And Jeff’s coming out and he’s holding this guitar. And [I thought], ‘Oh, he’s come to have a play,’ you know? He knocks on the door and I say, ‘Come in, Jeff.’ He’s saying about how they’ve just done a new deal and he bought the Stingray with it. He said, ‘Here, this is yours,’ and he gave me the Telecaster he’d been using. ‘This is yours for getting me in the Yardbirds.’ Well, obviously, I was really moved, because there’s a lot of love in that gesture.”Jimmy Page describe’s Jeff Beck’s loving gesture of gifting him his guitar
Beck gifting Page the Fender Telecaster wasn’t just a symbolic gesture. Page played the 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 in the Yardbirds before forming Led Zeppelin
Page didn’t stay a studio musician forever. He joined Beck in the Yardbirds and played bass when the band was 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 I, with Page playing the guitar he got from Beck, landed in early 1969, and the rest is history.
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