Take Five: Jimmy Page

Five significant Jimmy Page sessions before Led Zeppelin

Like his bandmate John Paul Jones, guitarist Jimmy Page was an in-demand session musician in the years before Led Zeppelin. Page’s journeyman credentials were established as he demonstrated time and again his skill, creativity, skill and versatility. Here are five among countless session dates featuring the young James Patrick Page.

Al Stewart – “Turn Into Earth”
A full decade before he found international fame with “Year of the Cat,” singer-songwriter Al Stewart recorded this haunting cover of a deep-cut Yardbirds track. Released in 1966, this recording features an expansive arrangement that bridges “adult pop” and the emerging proto-psychedelic rock sounds. This session likely took place mere weeks or even days before Page – who can be heard here playing solid, percussive rhythm guitar – joined the Yardbirds.

Otis Spann – “Stirs Me Up”
Led Zeppelin would be deeply immersed in the blues, and Jimmy Page came by his blues credentials honestly. Revered Chicago pianist Spann recorded sides in England in 1964; released as a single in September 1964, this track featured Jimmy Page (on harmonica, not guitar) alongside Muddy Waters and Eric Clapton, with Memphis Slim playing harpsichord.

Lulu – “Heatwave”
Martha and the Vandellas scored a hit with “Heatwave” in 1963; in the years after that success, many artists covered the song, including The Who, Phil Collins and The Jam. Lulu’s faithful and spirited version from late 1964 found her backed by a large band that included – somewhere in the mix – guitarist Jimmy Page.

The Mickey Finn – “Garden of My Mind”
Page showcased his powerful, aggressive and fleet-fingered guitar skills on this raver from 1967. “Garden of My Mind” rivals the best Yardbirds tunes in its wild, over-the-top intensity. Not a hit on its original release, the song would earn belated appreciation when featured on the 2001 boxed set Nuggets II: Original Artyfacts from the British Empire and Beyond.

Françoise Hardy – “Je N’Attends Plus Personne”
The song isn’t listed in Page’s discography on his official website, but it’s widely acknowledged that the guitarist lent his skills – complete with fuzztone pedal – to this track by French pop star and chanteuse Françoise Hardy. This atypically rocking turn from Hardy likely shocked fans of her lilting, folky, chanson-style work. The guitar sounds on this track would have been shocking to listeners in France – or anywhere else, for that matter – in 1964.