Personalities | Led Zeppelin | Before The Band (1960–67) | Key Events
Jimmy Page: First-Ever Serious ‘Gig’
Aged just 16, Jimmy Page – whose first guitar was a steel-stringed Spanish guitar on which he learnt to play skiffle, before quickly moving on to rock’n’roll and the electric guitar – played his first ever serious ‘gig’. Though he had been in local bands before, playing for British poet Royston Ellis at London’s Mermaid Theatre was his first high-profile performance. Page accompanied the Beatnik-influenced poet on acoustic guitar, having rediscovered a taste for the instrument after listening to British folk star (and future member of Pentangle) Bert Jansch.
Jimmy Page: Warms Up For Chris Farlowe & The Thunderbirds
Page would often play in the support band at his local Epsom dance hall and, one night in 1961, he warmed up for Chris Farlowe & The Thunderbirds and Johnny Kidd & The Pirates, two early British rock’n’roll acts. Even as a support act, Page’s guitar-playing captivated the young audience. London-based singer Neil Christian was one audience member that night and he asked Page to join his band, Neil Christian & The Crusaders.
John Paul Jones: Gets Big Break
Leaving school aged 17, John Paul Jones (then still known by his birth name, John Baldwin) got the first job he auditioned for when he tried out for Jet Harris & Tony Meehan, two founder members of British rock’n’roll stalwarts The Shadows. Harris and Meehan had just left their group and recently had a No. 1 hit single with ‘Diamonds’ (on which, ironically, Jimmy Page had played guitar). Baldwin would play with Harris & Meehan for 18 months and, in 1964, aged 18, changed his name to John Paul Jones and released an instrumental single ‘Baja’/‘A Foggy Day In Vietnam’.
Jimmy Page: Plays With The Crusaders
Having been asked to join Neil Christian & The Crusaders in 1961, Page gigged around London with the band, playing covers of American rock’n’roll songs by the likes of Chuck Berry. By far The Crusaders’s biggest asset, even at the young age of 17, Page played with the most up-to-date guitar equipment. Allegedly one of the first London guitarists to play with a foot pedal, John Paul Jones would later recall, ‘Even in 1962 I can remember people saying, “You’ve got to go hear Neil Christian & The Crusaders, they’ve got this unbelievable young guitarist.” I’d heard of Pagey before I’d heard of Clapton or Beck.’
Jimmy Page: Becomes Session Musician At Decca
Within a year Page had made a big name for himself in London’s musicians’ circles and started jamming in The Marquee club with other British blues-boom legends Eric Clapton, Jeff Beck and Alexis Korner’s Blues Incorporated. Following session work for a handful of EMI singles, Page would be offered regular work as a session musician for the Decca label. His first recording for them was on Jet Harris & Tony Meehan’s ‘Diamonds’, a No. 1 hit in the UK. Though Page...
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