We are digging into the Far Out vault to look back at a moment in music history when two icons of the rock world met at the very earliest stages of their careers. Back in 1965, Jimmy Page and David Bowie were associates of one another through the swinging London blues scene, as the capital exploded in a sea of impressive musicians and talented stars.
What’s more, the two stars in-waiting, even collaborated together on an old-school blues cover back when Bowie was still David Jones and Led Zeppelin was still just a twinkle in Page’s twinkling eye.
The idea of these two huge icons meeting all those years ago is fascinating for any rock music lover. The idea of both Page and Bowie working together on any song is an exciting one. Sadly, they only ever made one song together but the idea of a Bowie led Zeppelin is still a tantalising one. Especially when you hear their chemistry on this piece despite the situation.
Daydreaming about a noodling Ziggy Zeppelin, is one thing, but we shouldn’t forget, we do still have their original work together, however mawkish it may be. The collaboration came about after a youthful 18-year-old David Jones who fronted The Manish Boys at the time, not yet taking the name Bowie and still very much a Starboy, crossed paths with the session musician Jimmy Page.
Bowie was leading his pop-rock group with all the vigour and enthusiasm that would see him become a star. They had some great credentials. As well as Bowie fronting the band, the group had also stolen their name from a Muddy Waters track just like The Rolling Stones and looked to compete on the thriving London blues scene. So much so, they had booked some studio time to get their name out on record. But the song needed some more oomph, so they recruited a local session musician for the day.
The gun for hire would turn out to be a 21-year-old Jimmy Page. The now-iconic guitarist, arguably one of the greatest of all time, would arrive to deliver a devastating guitar solo then leave to do the same for somebody else in another part of town. It was part of his role as a budding session musician and also part of why he became such a juggernaut of the instrument in his latter career.
Recruiting Page for The Manish Boys’ session was nothing short of a coup for a young and excited Bowie, especially considering the guitarist had already played on records by some of the biggest names around. Those hits included The Who’s ‘I Can’t Explain’, The Rolling Stones’ ‘Heart of Stone’ demo, The Beatles’ film soundtrack A Hard Day’s Night, and Petula Clark’s Billboard No. one single ‘Downtown’. Page was becoming a huge name in his own right.
Bowie would later reminisce upon those days and how Page blew him away that day: “When I was a baby, I did a rock session with one of the millions of bands that I had in the ’60s, and the session guitar player was this young kid who’d just come out of art school and was already a top session man, Jimmy Page, [Page] just got a fuzz box and he used that for the solo. He was wildly excited about it.”
Page’s brand new fuzz box certainly stole the show during that performance and it’s truly remarkable to hear two legends of music work together whilst still learning the trade unbeknown to them what lay ahead in their respective lives.
Listen to David Bowie and Jimmy Page’s cover of Bobby ‘Blue’ Bland’s ‘I Pity The Fool’, below.