Jimmy Page and Jackie De Shannon: the songwriting partnership that inspired the future Led Zeppelin star's only lead vocal

Jimmy Page and Jackie De Shannon circa 1964
(Image credit: Jimmy Page: RB | Jackie De Shannon: Michael Ochs Archives | Both via Getty Images)

For Jimmy Page, the 1960s were a process of elimination, trying one thing before moving on to something else that might further his career and better pay the bills. 

The future Led Zeppelin star left school early to join his first professional band, Neil Christian And The Crusaders. He dropped out of art college to become one of London's hottest session musicians. Eventually he abandoned the studio work which, while well-rewarded, didn't provide the kind of income he might make if The Yardbirds took flight. And then came Zeppelin, and he finally was in charge.

Jackie De Shannon showed him how it was done. An already-successful American singer-songwriter, she'd supported The Beatles on tour in 1964 and written Don't Doubt Yourself Babe for The Byrds. She'd also had a minor hit in her own right with When You Walk in the Room, later a top 3 UK hit for The Searchers. Invited to London to record, she taped Don't Turn Your Back on Me, which featured a guitar part from the young Page. 

"When I was recording in England I was looking for a really good acoustic player," said De Shannon. "I heard there was this new kid who had been playing around a lot. So I played him this thing, my little riff, which I was very picky about how exactly I wanted it. But Jimmy played it back to me, of course ten times better, and it was perfect; it was great!"

After the session, the pair began an affair and started writing songs together, eventually coming up with eight or nine titles including I've Got My Tears To Remind Me, In My Time of Sorrow – later recorded by Marianne Faithful – Leaves Come Tumblin' Down and Stop That Girl. 

Perhaps emboldened by the experience, Page also recorded a solo single, She Just Satisfies, singing lead vocal for the only time in his career while De Shannon sang back-up. Recorded at Philips Studios in Marble Arch, London, Page played all the instruments on the single (including the harmonica) apart from the drums, which were provided by another session veteran, Bobby Graham.

It's probably fair to say that She Just Satisfies is very much of its time. It also sounds suspiciously like Revenge, a track from the debut album by The Kinks. “There’s nothing to be said for that record except it was very tongue-in-cheek at the time,” Page told Creem magazine. "It’s better forgotten."

Studio work would continue to provide the bulk of Page's income until he joined The Yardbirds in 1966, and we all know where that eventually led. In the meantime, he worked quietly on his songwriting, collaborating with Andrew Loog Oldham on The Last Mile, which appeared on the b-side of the debut single by future Velvet Underground star Nico, and eventually sitting down with with Jeff Beck to work up what would become Beck's Bolero in 1967.

Jimmy Page wouldn't release another solo single until Wasting My Time in 1988 (although Who's To Blame, the title theme Death Wish soundtrack, was released as a 7" single in Japan in 1982). And he'd never sing lead again. 

"You only had to listen to my record collection to know whether I was a singer or not," Page told Classic Rock in 2020. "I could sing enough to be able to illustrate the top lines of the songs that I wrote, or do backing vocals, or on Thank You on Zep II I’m doing a duet with Robert [Plant] on part of that."

As for De Shannon, she continued to write, including the classic Bette Davis Eyes, a US number 1 and double Grammy winner for Kim Carnes in 1981. Not bad for a farmer's daughter from Hazel, Kentucky. 

Fraser Lewry

Online Editor at Louder/Classic Rock magazine since 2014. 38 years in music industry, online for 25. Also bylines for: Metal Hammer, Prog Magazine, The Word Magazine, The Guardian, The New Statesman, Saga, Music365. Former Head of Music at Xfm Radio, A&R at Fiction Records, early blogger, ex-roadie, published author. Once appeared in a Cure video dressed as a cowboy, and thinks any situation can be improved by the introduction of cats. Favourite Serbian trumpeter: Dejan Petrović.