Teenage Jimmy Page and Jeff Beck Would Pore Over Elvis Presley Records to Pick out Who Played What

Led Zeppelin guitarist Jimmy Page developed a passion for music at a young age. While growing up, Page partially learned to play guitar by emulating what he heard on other artists’ albums. In an interview with Rolling Stone, Page discussed how he and his friend Jeff Beck would practice music together.

A black-and-white-photo of Jimmy Page playing guitar
Jimmy Page | Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

Jimmy Page was interested in music from a young age

Bob Spitz’s 2021 biography Led Zeppelin: The Biography goes into detail about how Page first became interested in music.

To practice guitar solos, Page would practice for hours on end, over and over again.

“Solos which affected me could send a shiver up my spine,” Page said in Led Zeppelin: The Biography, “and I’d spend hours, and in some cases days, trying to get them [down]. The first ones were Buddy Holly chord solos, like ‘Peggy Sue, but the next step was definitely James Burton on Ricky Nelson records, which was when it started to get difficult.”

The biography also revealed that Page would go to watch live music and then try and replicate what he saw onstage on his own guitar.

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Jimmy Page and Jeff Beck practiced music together

In 2020, Page was interviewed by Rolling Stone about his expansive career. During the interview, Page was asked how he and Beck “learned who played what on Elvis Presley’s and Gene Vincent’s records.”

Page then expanded on how he and Beck worked on music in similar ways.

“The very first time I met Jeff, I said, ‘What’s your version of [Little Walter’s] “My Babe”?’ to see how he played it. And I said, ‘Yeah, well, I’ve been doing it like this.’ He just had an instant rapport with me,” the guitarist said.

Page continued, “He had a homemade guitar at the time, and I’m sure he’d be very proud to say that. We were just two kids. We’d heard rock & roll. We’d heard these guitarists, and there was no turning back. Even at that age, in our teens, that’s it. We’re committed.”

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The two guitarists used other artists as inspiration

Speaking with Rolling Stone, Page explained how he and Beck attempted to copy what they heard from records that were released as they were growing up.

“As each release came, with the Gene Vincent stuff, it was really challenging to even attempt to play it. But once you had a solid-body guitar, as opposed to a cello body, it became more doable. Nevertheless, you were fueled to do the best you could, and it’s quite right,” Page said.

He continued, “I mean, one of the records that stopped you in your tracks was [1956’s] Johnny Burnette and the Rock n’ Roll Trio. The musical glue of that record is just absolutely phenomenal, and the guitar playing was so abstract to anything else that I’d ever heard.”

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