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January 9, 2024

Rarely Seen Polaroid Shots of a Young Jimmy Page From the Late 1960s

Before he became the father of hard rock, Led Zep legend Jimmy Page was one of the most prolific session guitarists of the 1960s –  and of special note was his impact across evolving rock‘n’roll.

Like many six-string heroes of his generation, it was Scotty Moore who first inspired Jimmy Page to pick up the guitar. At the age of 12, the future Led Zeppelin founder’s world was turned upside down when he heard Moore playing “Baby Let’s Play House” with Elvis. Before long, Page joined a skiffle band led by his school chemistry teacher and a year later in April 1957 was featured on BBC talent show All Your Own.

Interviewed by Huw Wheldon, the youngster said he planned to go to university to become a research chemist in biology – and that he aimed to find a cure for cancer. By the next decade, however, his career calling clearly lay elsewhere. In the late summer of 1968, Page would famously form the legendary Led Zeppelin. Before that – and ahead of his Yardbirds years – he packed a whole lotta rocking in his more anonymous guise of super session guitarist on London’s buzzing 60s studio circuit. 

His skills on predominantly a 1960 Gibson Les Paul Custom and a Danelectro 3021 can be heard across literally hundreds of recordings: so prodigious was he, that, according to Rolling Stone, “the full scale of Page’s session discography may never really be known.”

Cross-genre, his repertoire knew no bounds. He contributed to anthemic tracks by The Kinks, The Who, The Rolling Stones, to incidental music for The Beatles’ movie A Hard Day’s Night, via Donovan, Rod Stewart, Paul Anka, Jeff Beck, Tom Jones and many more. 

He also worked with an array of female artists: from Nico to Brenda Lee; on Shirley Bassey’s iconic “Goldfinger”, to Marianne Faithfull’s “As Tears Go By”; Top 10 hits of Kathy Kirby’s sassy revamp of “Secret Love”, Lulu’s signature “Shout” and Petula Clark’s Billboard Hot 100 No.1 “Downtown”. 

Given his later hard rock style, it’s intriguing to find out how Page’s formative session time influenced the era’s rock‘n’roll output. While still a student at Sutton Art College in Surrey, Page was talent-spotted at a gig at London’s Marquee Club. Alongside the likes of Jeff Beck and Eric Clapton, he was already honing his craft with bands such as Cyril Davies’ All Stars and Alexis Korner’s Blues Incorporated. Offers of recording work quickly ensued. He cut a dazzling debut with the Duane Eddy-style instrumental “Diamonds”, a No.1 for three weeks.

Penned by Jerry Lordan, the songwriter behind The Shadows’ worldwide hit “Apache”, it was performed by the ex-Shads duo of guitar ace Jet Harris – the first British musician to use the electric bass in 1958 – and drummer Tony Meehan. The crackling collaboration showed real chemistry between Harris’ de-tuned Fender Jaguar electric guitar parts and Page’s rhythmic filler on acoustic. It was 1963 and Page was yet to turn 20. Thereafter frequently booked as a top ‘guitar team’ together with Big Jim Sullivan, Page was already one of the most sought-after session musicians in Britain.


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