Jimmy Page Recalls the First Time He Met Jeff Beck
The pair encountered each other as they began their musical careers, and went on to spend a brief period together in the Yardbirds, after Page had recommended him for the position.
“I was part of a whole generation of people who were seduced by the sounds of rock ’n’ roll,” Page said in a new video released by Fender. “There weren’t many guitarists in the area at that point. You’d hear of other guitarists, you’d meet other guitarists, but nobody was in really close proximity to me. There was an art college at Epsom; Jeff Beck’s sister was attending that art college.”
You can watch the video below.
Page recounted how Beck was trying to learn guitar by playing along to records, but that he had only a homemade instrument to play on. Someone told his sister that there was another guitarist named Jimmy Page in the area. “Well, I think they cooked it up – ‘Maybe we should get these two together,'” he recalled. “There was a knock on the door, and there was Jeff’s sister, and there was Jeff holding his homemade guitar. We just bonded immediately.”
Soon Page had begun his career as a session musician, which he called a “very interesting” time. He was approached to join the Yardbirds but noted that he "didn’t feel very comfortable about it, because I knew Eric [Clapton] didn’t know, and I said no.” He was asked again later. "By that time I was a producer. I’d worked my way up. When I had this second request to join I said, ‘I know somebody who’d be really good for this, and it’s Jeff.’ And of course he went in there and did some amazing work.”
When the band signed a major new record deal, Beck decided to offer Page some thanks. “I’m still living with my parents at the time in Epsom and I hear this car roll up," Page recalled. "I looked out the window and I saw a Corvette Stingray outside.” Beck got out, carrying a Fender Telecaster, presented it to Page and told him, “This is yours for getting me in the Yardbirds.”
Page went on to remember how he wound up joining the band himself. “I happened to be with Jeff one night at a concert where there was a bit of a fuss onstage … what could only be described as a punk performance," he said. "It was fantastic, actually. I went to the dressing room to congratulate him. This massive row [was] going on. Paul Samwell-Smith, the bass player, quit the band. … It was a pretty odd situation to have to sort of witness. … I said, ‘Well, I’ll play then.’ Jeff and I had spoken before about playing together, so here was an opportunity to do it. But I started on bass. … There was a bit of mix and matching in the early days.”
The Telecaster went through a period of what Page described as “consecration,” including the addition of mirrors so he could reflect stage lights in a “kinetic” manner, and then the addition of dragon artwork to make it “psychedelic.” Then, Page recalled, “I wanted to start my own band, and I could see which way it ought to go.”
The result was Led Zeppelin's debut record. “The Telecaster is employed all the way through that album,” he said.