Led Zeppelin History – Jan 9

Today is Jimmy Page’s birthday. James Patrick Page was born on January 9, 1944 in Heston, Middlesex. His mother was a doctor’s secretary and his father was an industrial personnel officer. He spent his time as a youth like anyone else, but at age 12, his life changed forever when he heard Elvis’ Baby, Let’s Play House. He picked up a Spanish guitar, and after a handful of lessons he was set. At age 15 he accepted a position to play with Neil Christian and the Crusaders, after Neil spotted him performing in a dance hall in Epsom. He toured with them for two years until a bout with glandular fever forced him to quit. He then enrolled in an art college in Surrey, where he attended for 18 months. He remained involved in music, and jam sessions were commonplace. Jeff Beck was a frequent guitarist at these sessions, and the two became friends. Jimmy had brief stints in various bands, but soon became one of the most sought-after session players in London, playing for artists such as Burt Bacharach, The Who, The Kinks, Herman’s Hermits, Donovan, and Brenda Lee.

In 1965 Jimmy was approached to join the Yardbirds, but he instead recommended his friend Jeff Beck. Also in 1965, he managed to record his own single, She Just Satisfies. But in 1966, getting tired of session work, Jimmy joined the Yardbirds for their final album, Little Games. He took the role of bass guitarist at first, after the previous bassist quit the band. When Chris Dreja, the rhythm guitarist, took over on bass, Jimmy switched over to guitar, assuming one half of the dual-lead work with Jeff Beck. But by the summer of 1968 Beck had been fired, and Keith Relf and James McCarty left the band, leaving Page and bassist Chris Dreja with the rights to the band name, as well as the obligation of fulfilling an upcoming fall tour.

So Page set out to find a replacement vocalist and drummer. Initially he wanted to enlist singer Terry Reid and Procol Harum’s drummer B.J. Wilson, but neither musician was able to join the group. Reid suggested that Page contact Robert Plant, who was singing with a local band called Obbstweedle at the time. After hearing him sing, Page asked Plant to join the band in August of 1968, the same month Chris Dreja dropped out of the new project. Following Dreja’s departure, John Paul Jones joined the group as its bassist. Plant recommended that Page hire John Bonham, the drummer for Plant’s old band, the Band of Joy. Performing under the name New Yardbirds, the band fulfilled the Yardbirds’ previously booked engagements in late September of 1968. The following month, the group changed their name to Led Zeppelin, recorded their debut album in just under 30 hours, and secured a contract with Atlantic Records in the United States before the year was out. The rest is rock and roll history…

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