Before Jimmy Page became one of the most legendary rock guitarists of all time, he cut his teeth as a session musician. And he was pretty good at it. Page performed on The Who’s first hit single, and he eventually earned two invites to join the Yardbirds. He declined both invitations, but Page received his first famed guitar as a gift when he declined the second time around.
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 took notice.
One person who noticed Page’s chops was Giorgio Gomelsky. During an interview at the Fender Guitar Factory (via YouTube), the guitarist said that Gomelsky, at one point the manager of the Yardbirds, 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, again said no, but this time he recommended his friend, Jeff Beck. When the Yardbirds signed a big contract, Beck drove to Page in a new Corvette and paid Page back in the best way possible.
Page received his first famous guitar as a gift from Jeff Beck
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Beck’s time in the Yardbirds helped launch a career that’s still going strong. Page said Beck rewarded him with the guitar he would soon make famous.
“So what about the fact that Jeff is in the Yardbirds, I still live with my parents in Epsom. I hear that car roar, and I look out the window and saw that it was a Corvette Stingray on the outside,” Page said during the Fender interview. “There’s someone coming out, and of course it’s Jeff.
“And Jeff comes out and he’s holding this guitar. And [I thought], ‘Oh, he came to play’, you know? He knocks on the door and I say, ‘Come in, Jeff.’ He says they just made a new deal and he bought the Stingray with it. He said, ‘Here, this is yours’, and he gave me the Telecaster he was using. “You got me into the Yardbirds.” Well, of course, I was very moved, because there is a lot of love in this gesture.
Jimmy Page Describes Jeff Beck’s Loving Gesture of Giving Him His Guitar
Beck gifting Page the Fender Telecaster wasn’t just a token gesture. Page played 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
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Page didn’t stay a session 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 only six-string slinger when Beck left the band in 1966.
When the Yardbirds broke up in 1968, Page formed Led Zeppelin recruiting Robert Plant, who brought in drummer John Bonham, and former session ace John Paul Jones. Led Zeppelin IIwith Page playing the guitar he received from Beck, landed in early 1969, and the rest is history.
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