James Patrick Page was born on 8 January 1944. Until he was eight he lived on farm near Northampton, on his great-uncle's 400 acre estate. His father was an industrial personnel officer and in 1952 he moved the family to Miles Road, Epsom, a rather conservative and boring town south of London. Jimmy sang with a choir until he was thirteen and in 1957 his parents bought him a spanish guitar. Jimmy's parents encouraged his growing infatuation with rock'n'roll music and he went for half-a-dozen guitars lessons in nearby Kingston. More importantly, aa they didn't teach guitar playing at school he taught himself. Being self-taught was something he shared with John Bonham, and the unique guitar style of Page's can be put down to that.
His first electric guitar was a secondhand 1949 Les Paul, bought on hire purchase with his father as a guarantor. When Pagey completed his exams, he applied for a job as a laboratory assistant but before he got the job he accepted an offer as guitarist with a band called Neil Christian and the Crusaders. Slowly his reputation as a guitarist began to spread. Whilst gigging with Christian's Crusaders, people who saw the young guitarist and were bowled over included B.J. Wilson from Procol Harum, John Paul Jones and Jeff Beck.
He stayed with the band for several months before catching glandular fever. His delicate health didn't seem to suit the rigours of a gigging band who toured the country and slept in a van. Recovering from this bout of illness, he enrolled at art college in Sutton, Surrey.
Jeff Beck's sister went to art school and through a mutual friend who knew Page's growing obsession with the electric guitar, they became re-acquainted. Page was by this time discovering the burgeoning Blues scene at the Soho club, the Marquee. Soon he was jamming on stage. This led to him playing at the Crawdaddy Club in Richmond and at Eel Pie Island.
One night, someone asked him if he would like to play guitar on a record. This was Page's introduction to the world of studio session playing.
Soon, Jimmy was asked to play guitar on two singles for Brian Howard and the Silhouettes, who were recording for EMI. Then Tony Meechan used him, switching him from lead to rhythm guitar. Page played on the 1962 single, Diamonds, which is probaly the first number one Page played on.
To ensure more session work, Page took a crash course in reading and writing music. Work escalated.
Menawhile, he was still enrolled at art school. It was a crossroads: art versus music. Music won and after 18 months his college days were over.
When I said Diamonds was probaly the first number one Page played on, it has to be remembered that between 1963 and 1965, Page took part in hundreds of recording sessions as a guitarist and the sheer bulk of it makes it impossible to say with 100% accuracy which was the first number one. Just some of the people he worked with were: the Who, the Rolling Stones, the Kinks, Donovan, Cliff Richard, Burt Bacharach and Screaming Lord Sutch. Looking back, the variety is staggering. Moreover, if you take into account that Page was barely twenty at this time then you realise how quickly Page's reputation as an accomplished studio guitarist grew.
Gradually though, Page grew disillusioned with session work and began forming a general mistrust of the media which grew throughout his Led Zeppelin days. Session bookings became uncomfortable as the producer wanted him there as insurance while the artist didn't want him there at all. An example of this was when the producer Shel Talmy brought Page in to play on the Kinks' You Really Got Me sessions. When the media heard about Page's involvement they inferred that the band couldn't cut it musically. This was wrong and naturally made the group's mainman, Ray Davies furious.
To escape from such a negative environment, Page hung out with Eric Clapton. In 1965, Page produced four tracks for Clapton. He also went to Page's parents' home in Epsom and they jammed together. These Clapton home tapes were subsequently released by Clapton's former record label, Immediate. It is doubful whether either of them received any royalties though many held Page responsible for the release and Clapton himself has barely spoken since to his once-close friend.
Also in 1965, Page cut his first and only single for Fontana Records, She Just Satisfies. Today, Page is embarrassed by its existence and would sooner forget it. Page's equivalent to Bowie's The Laughing Gnome perhaps??
By the mid-60s it was a rather jaundiced Page who continued on the humdrum path of the session player. He featured on Joe Cocker's debut album where his playing could be found on the classic title track, With a Little Help from My Friends. But his disllusionment with session work was becoming acute. Part of the reason he had taken up session work in the first place was to preserve his fragile health from the rigours of touring. Now his session work left him feeling robotic and the rigours of being in a band were exactly what he wanted.
The Yardbirds had been formed in 1963 in Richmond and Kingston, south west of London. Eric Clapton had been a member for a time though by the time Page joined in 1966 he had left. The temperamental Jeff Beck was lead guitar and when Page joined he played bass, an instrument he had never played before!
Through management upheavals, a British show business veteran named Peter Grant had assumed control. He would be the band's manager from 1966 to their demise in 1968.
By the time of Page's inclusion, the band's recording output had become meagre and average. Indeed, the only two studio tracks that Beck and Page play on together are Happenings Ten Years Time Ago and Pyscho Daisies. They were far more successful on the road. They undertook a Australian tour and then, whilst on the US leg, Page was able to play lead guitar live when Beck couldn't make a gig (Carousel Club, San Francisco). Thereafter, the band had two lead guitars.
With both Beck and Page on lead guitars the Yardbirds were truly ahead of their time. No-one had done it before and they took the States by storm. With two large personalities (ie. two massive egos colliding) there were plenty of tantrums, but they managed to undertake a major British tour with the Rolling Stones and Ike and Tina Turner in late 1966. Then, at the end of the year they went back to the States to tour but three dates in, Beck blew up on stage, smashed his guitar and stormed off. It was Beck's way of handing in his notice to leave the band!
Rows over who wrote what on Beck's Bolero between Beck and Page contributed to the breakdown of their friendship as well as Beck's departure from the band.
Now Beck-less, Peter Grant brought in Mickie Most to produce a more commercially successful sound. The results were hopeless. The album, Little Games, (1997) was, er, crap and soulless. After this, the album The Yardbirds with Jimmy Page Live at the Anderson Theatre was released briefly in the US but not until 1971, four years after it was made, to cash in on the massive success of Led Zeppelin (an injuction was slapped on it and the label responsible, Epic Records, withdrew it).
The Yardbirds final single, Goodnight Sweet Josephine/Think About It was released in January 1968. It was desperate stuff and showed that the band really had no business being in a recording studio anymore.
Their live performances were a different story. Still, the Americans loved them. But it was too late. All of the band except Page now wanted out. They played their final concert together at the Luton School of Technology in July 1968.
Out of the ashes, in late 1968, Page reformed the Yardbirds with new band members, who, in turn, became Led Zeppelin (the biography of Led Zeppelin and Page's fascination with the occultist, Aleister Crowley, can be found by clicking here).
After the demise of Led Zeppelin, Robert Plant and Page teamed up for a one-off project in 1984 produced by Nugetre (Ahmet Ertegun), and the Fabulous Brill Brothers. The EP, The Honeydrippers: Volume One, featured a band of mystery musicians including Jeff Beck and Nile Rodgers. It was released on Plant's Es Paranza label and though commercially successful Page revealed the following year that he and Plant hadn't been on speaking terms since the fateful day the previous summer when the guitarist had overdubbed his part on the Honeydrippers' unsolicited hit, Sea of Love.
The differences were patched up as on 13 July 1985 Led Zeppelin reunited at the Live Aid concert at the JFK Stadium in Philadelphia. Page, Plant and Jones, with drummers Tony Thompson and Phil Collins (who had actually toured with Plant on his 1983 The Principle of Moments tour) standing in for the late John Bonham, and Paul Martinez (from Plant's touring band) performed a lousy twenty minute set featuring Rock and Roll, Whole Lotta Love and Stairway to Heaven. Plant had just done three gigs on the trot resulting in his voice being shot; Page's roadie handed him a completely out of tune guitar on which to play Stairway to Heaven, which didn't help.
Peter Grant, now no longer acting as manager for any of them, summed it up best:
'It was diabolical ... it was absolutely horrendous'.
So bad, in fact, that when Live Aid was released on a four-set DVD in late 2004, the group unanimously disallowed usage of footage from their performance though Page and Plant donated all proceedings from their Unledded DVD to the Live Aid charity, and Jones donated a portion of the profits from his US tour with the Mutual Admiration Society toward the charity as well.
In 1986, Page, Plant and Jones gathered near Peter Gabriel's home at Bath, England for rehearsals with Thompson with a view to play again as a group. Thompson had a car accident so one of Plant's roadies played drums. For whatever reason (and each band member has different views) the idea of reforming quickly fizzled out.
However, Zeppelin did reunite again in 1988 for Atlantic Records' 40th Anniversary concert for only their second public performance after Bonham's death. They performed a 31-minute set, with Jason Bonham (sitting in for his father, John) joining the remaining three.
The three original members also played with Jason at Carmen Plant's (Robert's daughter) 21st birthday party, and at Jason's wedding.
1990 saw Plant and Page play a brief set together at the Knebworth music festival, which included a rarity from Coda, Wearing and Tearing.
Then it happened. Page and Plant, without Jones, reunited in 1994 for an MTV Unplugged performance (dubbed Unledded) which eventually led to a world tour with a Middle Eastern orchestra, and an album entitled No Quarter. 'Page and Plant are Led Zeppelin', John Paul Jones observed in 1998, 'in everything but name'. Why they did it without him has never been satisfactorily explained. It seemed unfair and just plain wrong, and neither Page or Plant came out of it looking great. Led Zeppelin's strength was that all members played a precise and integral part in the mechanics of the band, and to strip it of one member meant it just wasn't the same. Nevertheless, the tour was deemed a success if success can be only measured by bums on seats.
Since 1990, Page has been heavily involved in remastering the entire Led Zeppelin back catalogue. In 2005, he was awarded an Order of the British Empire in recognition of his Brazilian charity work.
He is married to Jimena Gomez-Paratcha. His daughter is the photographer Scarlet Page.
Jimmy Page signed items @ ebay.co.uk (direct link to signed items)
M A I L I N G A D D R E S S
29/33 Berner's St.
Please note: The chances of getting a Jimmy Page autograph are as Don King would put it: slim or none, and slim's left town!
P R I C E G U I D EYou can expect the prices for the items listed below if you are selling privately. If you sell to a dealer or shop expect less than half of the prices listed below.
All prices are on the basis that the item is in mint condition.
All items 7" unless stated.
All items UK releases unless stated.
List also includes CDs, & 12"s.
Prices are in UK sterling and US dollars.
She Just Satisfies/Keep Moving (1965)(Fontana TF 533)...£450.00 / $780.00Wasting My Time/Writes of Winter (1988)(P/S, withdrawn) (Geffen GEF 41)...£8.00 / $14.00She Just Satisfies/Keep Moving (1991)(CD, in 'Led Zeppelin, A Celebration' Pack) (Fontana TFCD 533)...£10.00 / $17.00LED ZEPPELIN PRICE GUIDEJOHN PAUL JONES PRICE GUIDEROBERT PLANT PRICE GUIDE