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Music

When Jimmy Page featured on The Beatles' 'A Hard Day's Night'

Once he became a superstar via The Yardbirds and Led Zeppelin, Jimmy Page started discussing his work as session guitarist during the 1960s. Unfortunately, this led to Page being erroneously credited to tracks he did not play on. True, he played rhythm guitar on The Who’s ‘I Can’t Explain’, but he definitely did not play the soaring riff on ‘You Really Got Me’. And although he plays on A Hard Days Night, it’s not the bouncy arpeggio heard on ‘Ringo’s theme’.

Ostensibly a re-recording of ‘This Boy’, the track finds James Bond mainstay Vic Flick flexing his muscle over the jaunty hook. Although it’s been rumoured that Page plays background guitar – he is believed to have played rhythm guitar on the Goldfinger soundtrack – Flick has denied this, stating that Page was not in “EMI Number 2 studio” when he laid down the riff. But Page’s guitar can be heard elsewhere, and according to Tony Barrell, Page’s guitar can be heard when Ringo Starr turns on a radio, turning the volume to let a guitar ricochet through the proceedings.

It’s Page, but it causes a racket, and the crusty man sitting across from The Beatles demands that they switch it off. Funnily, Page was presented with a cover of a tennis pitch as a potential Zeppelin cover. Needless to say, he didn’t see the funny side of a “racket” representing his music.

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Lest we forget that Jimmy Page had yet to become “Jimmy Page”. He was a young man still in his early 20s, who was happy to play whatever was required to earn his weekly wage. He did not view himself as an “artist”, and would not do so until he joined The Yardbirds. Initially, he joined as a joint-lead guitarist but wound up recording all the guitar solos when Jeff Beck left the band.

And from the ashes of The Yardbirds rose the sound of Led Zeppelin, which was grander and more luxuriant than the records that had gone before them. But it’s unlikely that he could have created this large mosaic of sound if it wasn’t for the experiences he gained working as a guitarist for hire during the 1960s.

Everyone has to carve out a name for themselves before they can do what it is their heart intends of them, just as everyone has to pay their dues in an effort to create a grander experience for them. Ultimately, the experience worked out for Page, who emerged from the sessions a more refined and more promising guitarist.

He had the forbearance to play the long game, which paid dividends when he formed Led Zeppelin. But that ultimately showed that the guitarist had what it took to enjoy a great trajectory, that flitted from the lo-fi, to the barrelling epics of the Zeppelin years.

And although he never worked with The Beatles, Page got to know the solo Beatles on an individual level. Indeed, he wrote Houses of The Holy highlight ‘The Rain Song’ when George Harrison told him that Zeppelin didn’t do any ballads- despite ‘Thank You’, ‘Celebration Day’ and ‘Stairway To Heaven’ being in their cupboards. John Paul Jones worked with Paul McCartney on Back To The Egg and Give My Regards To Broadstreet, and John Bonham considered Ringo Starr a good pal of his.

Interestingly, Page did wind up playing on Joe Cocker’s version of ‘I’ll Cry Instead’, commonly regarded as one of the few covers that were superior to The Beatles’ original. The tune is bolstered by a pummeling riff, and the guitars chime in an out of the recording, like a feisty, fearsome tornado.

Stream ‘I’ll Cry Instead’, and the scene in which Page’s guitar appears in A Hard Days Night, below.