Jeff Beck and Jimmy Page were close friends coming out of their shared childhood county of Surrey. Page was instrumental in getting Beck to take over the lead guitar role from Eric Clapton in the Yardbirds, and Beck later instigated Page’s involvement in the group. By the late 1960s, the two guitarists were leaders of their own bands: The Jeff Beck Group and Led Zeppelin.
With a shared admiration for classic American blues, Page and Beck often listened to the same records and performed the same covers, both on stage and in the studio. Since they were so similar, it’s clear why both men would gravitate towards ‘You Shook Me’, the raunchy blues standard written by. Willie Dixon and recorded by Muddy Waters in 1962.
Beck was the first to lay his cover down, with the song appearing on his 1968 album Truth. Playing organ on that session was renowned sessions musician John Paul Jones, who received a call from Page only two months later asking him to join The New Yardbirds, which later morphed into Led Zeppelin. ‘You Shook Me’ was included in those first Scandanavian shows that the band played, and when Led Zeppelin entered Olympic Studio in October of 1968 to record their debut album, ‘You Shook Me’ was one of the nine songs included on the album.
Due to their close relationship and the short amount of time between their respective recordings of the song, conjecture began to emerge over whether Page lifted the idea to cover ‘You Shook Me’ from Beck. For his part, Page claimed not to have heard Beck’s version and pleaded ignorance to the fact that Jones appeared on the recording.
“He had the same sort of taste in music as I did,” Page claimed in 1977. “That’s why you’ll find on the early LPs we both did a song like “You Shook Me.” It was the type of thing we’d both played in bands. Someone told me he’d already recorded it after we’d already put it down on the first Zeppelin album. I thought, “Oh dear, it’s going to be identical,” but it was nothing like it, fortunately. I just had no idea he’d done it. It was on Truth but I first heard it when I was in Miami after we’d recorded our version. It’s a classic example of coming from the same area musically, of having a similar taste.”
“When he [John Paul Jones] did ours, he didn’t say anything about it,” Page later told Mojo Magazine. “He probably didn’t know it was the same number because the two versions were so different.” However, Beck claimed that Page attended gigs where The Jeff Beck Group performed the song in early 1968, making it unlikely that Page didn’t at least have an idea that Beck was covering the song regularly.
Page’s claims that he wrote one of Truth‘s other cuts, ‘Beck’s Bolero’, also played a part in straining the relationship between the once-close friends. They seemed to have reconciled in more recent years, having performed on stage together on different occasions including and appearing together during The Yardbirds’ 1992 induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.