Page was born to James Patrick Page and Patricia Elizabeth Gaffikin in the west London suburb of Heston on 9 January 1944. His father was a personnel manager at a plastic-coatings plant and his mother, who was of Irish descent, was a doctor’s secretary. In 1952, they moved to Feltham and then to Miles Road, Epsom in Surrey. Page was educated from the age of eight at Epsom County Pound Lane Primary School, and when he was eleven he went to Ewell County Secondary School in West Ewell. He came across his first guitar, a Spanish guitar, in the Miles Road house: “I don’t know whether [the guitar] was left behind by the people [in the house] before [us], or whether it was a friend of the family’s—nobody seemed to know why it was there.” First playing the instrument when aged 12, he took a few lessons in nearby Kingston, but was largely self-taught:
When I grew up there weren’t many other guitarists … There was one other guitarist in my school who actually showed me the first chords that I learned and I went on from there. I was bored so I taught myself the guitar from listening to records. So obviously it was a very personal thing.
This “other guitarist” was a boy called Rod Wyatt, a few years his senior, and together with another boy, Pete Calvert, they would practise at Page’s house; Page would devote six or seven hours on some days to practising and would always take his guitar with him to secondary school, only to have it confiscated and returned to him after class. Among Page’s early influences were rockabilly guitarists Scotty Moore and James Burton, who both played on recordings made by Elvis Presley. Presley’s song “Baby Let’s Play House” is cited by Page as being his inspiration to take up the guitar, and he would reprise Moore’s playing on the song in the live version of “Whole Lotta Love” on The Song Remains the Same. He appeared on BBC1 in 1957 with a Höfner President acoustic, which he’d bought from money saved up from his milk round in the summer holidays and which had a pickup so it could be amplified, but his first solid-bodied electric guitar was a second-hand 1959 Futurama Grazioso, later replaced by a Fender Telecaster, a model he had seen Buddy Holly playing on the TV and a real-life example of which he’d played at an electronics exhibition at the Earls Court Exhibition Centre in London.
Page’s musical tastes included skiffle (a popular English music genre of the time) and acoustic folk playing, and the blues sounds of Elmore James, B.B. King, Otis Rush, Buddy Guy, Freddie King, and Hubert Sumlin. “Basically, that was the start: a mixture between rock and blues.”
At the age of 13, Page appeared on Huw Wheldon’s All Your Own talent quest programme in a skiffle quartet, one performance of which aired on BBC1 in 1957. The group played “Mama Don’t Want to Skiffle Anymore” and another American-flavoured song, “In Them Ol’ Cottonfields Back Home”. When asked by Wheldon what he wanted to do after schooling, Page said, “I want to do biological research [to find a cure for] cancer, if it isn’t discovered by then.”
In an interview with Guitar Player magazine, Page stated that “there was a lot of busking in the early days, but as they say, I had to come to grips with it and it was a good schooling.” When he was fourteen, and billed as James Page, he played in a group called Malcolm Austin and Whirlwinds, alongside Tony Busson on bass, Stuart Cockett on rhythm and a drummer called Tom, knocking out Chuck Berry and Jerry Lee Lewis numbers. This band was short-lived, as Page soon found a drummer for a band he’d previously been playing in with Rod Wyatt, David Williams and Pete Calvert, and came up with a name for them: The Paramounts. The Paramounts played gigs in Epsom, once supporting a group who would later become Johnny Kidd & the Pirates.
Although interviewed for a job as a laboratory assistant, he ultimately chose to leave secondary school in West Ewell to pursue music, doing so at the age of fifteen – the earliest age permitted at the time – having gained four GCE O levels and on the back of a major row with the school Deputy Head Miss Nicholson about his musical ambitions, about which she was wholly scathing.
Page had difficulty finding other musicians with whom he could play on a regular basis. “It wasn’t as though there was an abundance. I used to play in many groups … anyone who could get a gig together, really.” Following stints backing recitals by Beat poet Royston Ellis at the Mermaid Theatre between 1960 and 1961, and singer Red E. Lewis, who’d seen him playing with the Paramounts at the Contemporary club in Epsom and told his manager Chris Tidmarsh to ask Page to join his backing band, the Redcaps, after the departure of guitarist Bobby Oats, Page was asked by singer Neil Christian to join his band, the Crusaders. Christian had seen a fifteen-year-old Page playing in a local hall, and the guitarist toured with Christian for approximately two years and later played on several of his records, including the 1962 single, “The Road to Love.”
During his stint with Christian, Page fell seriously ill with infectious mononucleosis (i.e. glandular fever) and could not continue touring. While recovering, he decided to put his musical career on hold and concentrate on his other love, painting, and enrolled at Sutton Art College in Surrey. As he explained in 1975:
[I was] travelling around all the time in a bus. I did that for two years after I left school, to the point where I was starting to get really good bread. But I was getting ill. So I went back to art college. And that was a total change in direction. That’s why I say it’s possible to do. As dedicated as I was to playing the guitar, I knew doing it that way was doing me in forever. Every two months I had glandular fever. So for the next 18 months I was living on ten dollars a week and getting my strength up. But I was still playing.
While still a student, Page often performed on stage at the Marquee Club with bands such as Cyril Davies’ All Stars, Alexis Korner’s Blues Incorporated, and fellow guitarists Jeff Beck and Eric Clapton. He was spotted one night by John Gibb of Brian Howard & the Silhouettes, who asked him to help record some singles for Columbia Graphophone Company, including “The Worrying Kind”. Mike Leander of Decca Records first offered Page regular studio work. His first session for the label was the recording “Diamonds” by Jet Harris and Tony Meehan, which went to Number 1 on the singles chart in early 1963.
After brief stints with Carter-Lewis and the Southerners, Mike Hurst and the Method and Mickey Finn and the Blue Men, Page committed himself to full-time session work. As a session guitarist, he was known as ‘Lil’ Jim Pea’ to prevent confusion with the other noted English session guitarist Big Jim Sullivan. Page was mainly called into sessions as “insurance” in instances when a replacement or second guitarist was required by the recording artist. “It was usually myself and a drummer”, he explained, “though they never mention the drummer these days, just me … Anyone needing a guitarist either went to Big Jim [Sullivan] or myself.” He stated that “In the initial stages they just said, play what you want, cos at that time I couldn’t read music or anything.”
producer Shel Talmy. As a result, he secured session work on songs for the Who and the Kinks. Page is credited with playing acoustic twelve-string guitar on two tracks on the Kinks’ debut album, “I’m a Lover Not a Fighter” and “I’ve Been Driving on Bald Mountain”, and possibly on the B-side “I Gotta Move”. He played rhythm guitar on the sessions for the Who’s first single “I Can’t Explain” (although Pete Townshend was reluctant to allow Page’s contribution on the final recording; Page also played lead guitar on the B-side, “Bald Headed Woman”). Page’s studio gigs in 1964 and 1965 included Marianne Faithfull’s “As Tears Go By”, Jonathan King’s “Everyone’s Gone to the Moon”, the Nashville Teens’ “Tobacco Road”, the Rolling Stones’ “Heart of Stone”, Van Morrison & Them’s “Baby, Please Don’t Go”, “Mystic Eyes”, and “Here Comes the Night”, Dave Berry’s “The Crying Game” and “My Baby Left Me”, Brenda Lee’s “Is It True”, Shirley Bassey’s “Goldfinger”, and Petula Clark’s “Downtown”. (wikipedia)
When we think of Jimmy Page’s solo career, we tend to remember his 1988 Outrider LP first. However, Page actually got his start decades earlier, with the little-heard single “She Just Satisfies.”
Released on Feb. 26, 1965, on the Fontana label, “She Just Satisfies” (backed with “Keep Moving”) found Page producing, playing all the instruments except the drums, and – for what seems to be the first and only time – handling lead vocals.
The recordings took place toward the end of Page’s lucrative and prolific career as one of the most sought-after session guitarists on the U.K. rock scene, but before he stepped into the spotlight as a member of the Yardbirds (and later Led Zeppelin).
“My session work was invaluable. At one point I was playing at least three sessions a day, six days a week! And I rarely ever knew in advance what I was going to be playing. But I learned things even on my worst sessions – and believe me, I played on some horrendous things,” he told CBS in 2013.
Muzak,” Page added. “I decided I couldn’t live that life any more; it was getting too silly. I guess it was destiny that a week after I quit doing sessions Paul Samwell-Smith left the Yardbirds and I was able to take his place. But being a session musician was good fun in the beginning – the studio discipline was great. They’d just count the song off and you couldn’t make any mistakes.”
Even if he was growing disenchanted with the session life, Page wasn’t exactly dying to become a solo artist. It took some encouragement from his girlfriend at the time, singer-songwriter Jackie DeShannon, with whom he’d collaborated on a string of songs that included “Dream Boy” and “Don’t Turn Your Back on Me” (as well as “Keep Moving”). And while the fact that it wasn’t a hit probably made a long-term solo career a moot point anyway, Page later seemed dismissive of his efforts on the single.
“There’s nothing to be said for that record except it was very tongue-in-cheek at the time,” he later shrugged in an interview with Creem. “I played all the instruments on it except for the drums and sang on it too, which is quite, uh … unique. ‘She Just Satisfies,’ that’s what it was called. It’s better forgotten.”
These days, YouTube is a pretty fantastic tool for making sure no piece of musical history is ever forgotten, and sure enough, some enterprising fans have uploaded “She Just Satisfies” and “Keep Moving” for all of us to enjoy. Perhaps not Page’s finest musical hour, but an interesting footnote in an incredible career, and a fascinating glimpse of what was soon to come from one of the greatest guitarists in rock ‘n’ roll history. (ultimateclassicrock.com)
And co-writer Barry Mason was the award-winning songwriter who brought us Delilah – and also wrote songs for Elvis Presley, Rod Stewart and Barbra Streisand … and Jimmy Page !
Bobby Graham (drums)
Jimmy Page (guitar, vocals, bass, harmonica)
A re-issue from 1967:
01. She Just Satisfies (Page/Mason) 2.01
02. Keep Moving (Page/Mason) 3.29