In the beginning, there was Jimmy Page. He was only 8 when his family moved into a home in Surrey just south of London. And he recalls that’s where he stumbled across his first guitar. Almost literally. Looking back, Page can’t recall whether a friend of the family brought it over or the previous tenants left it there. Fortunately for all of us, it gave young Jimmy a chance to get acquainted with the instrument and decide to dedicate himself to it.
A self-taught guitarist, Jimmy Page found his youthful perspective on the instrument was just what British record producers were looking for to create their hit singles in the early ‘60s. It must have been a rush finding himself booked for three sessions a day, five days a week. And his talents helped craft some memorable music. That’s Jimmy on Marianne Faithfull’s “As Tears Go By.” And again on Petula Clark’s “Downtown.” And again on Van Morrison and Them’s “Here Comes the Night.”
Page was clearly at ground zero for the music explosion that was taking place in the U. K. And he has claimed that the discipline required in the studio was a valuable experience. “They’d just count the song off and you couldn’t make any mistakes.”
But Page’s hot streak as a session player began to wane. He wasn’t idle for long, though. A week after he’d made the decision to quit studio work, The Yardbirds recruited him to fill an opening in their line up, and Page found himself touring Europe as a guitarist alongside Jeff Beck. Page’s time in The Yardbirds gave him the opportunity to explore some ideas that had been brewing. Performing live, the band gave Page the opportunity to improvise at length. He had also been eager to blend some acoustic textures into the music. The ongoing lack of commercial success convinced the remaining original Yardbirds that it was time to call it a day. But the band had committed to a series of dates in Scandinavia, and Page felt obligated to see them through. So the guitarist put together a line up consisting of fellow former session musician John Paul Jones on bass, a new vocalist he’d just discovered named Robert Plant, and a friend of Plant’s on drums, John Bonham. They did the tour as The New Yardbirds, but when it was clear they were going to carry on performing together, the old Yardbirds insisted that they change their name.