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"Jimmy was different from every other session guy…"

“It must have been 1964. The personnel of my band, Carter-Lewis And The Southerners, was flexible, and we had a tour coming up but we didn’t have a proper band. Me and Ken Lewis knew Jimmy from sessions. We’d played together on [Dave Berry’s] The Crying Game, and we’d booked him for a few Carter-Lewis sessions, which he was brilliant on. So we asked him to join: ‘Yeah, why not?’

“I remember the first session I ever saw Jimmy on. He was eighteen or nineteen, a young lad. He wore normal sixties clothes. I don’t even remember his hair being long. We’d all meet round the corner from Decca Studios after sessions and go for a drink. We’d talk about music, the old blues guys, rock‘n’roll. He may have been quiet with blokes, but not with girls. I mean, I don’t want to give away any secrets.

“Jimmy was different from any other player going around. His invention was the best at that time. But he never took over on a session; no ego at all. He’d say: ‘What do you want?’ And we’d say: ‘Just make something up.’ Then he’d make up a solo which was absolutely fantastic. That was when you got the best out of Jimmy Page.

“What happened next? Sessions were getting very busy for him, and I think he wanted to concentrate on that, more than being on the road, because you earned a lot more money. The band broke up soon after. I really did think he’d go on to big things. I was pleased for him with Zeppelin, because he deserved to become famous. He was brilliant then, but with Zeppelin he just went higher and higher.

“For a while we kept in touch. I saw Jimmy again maybe four or five years ago, at an airport. We passed each other and we both just said: ‘Aha! It’s you!’

Henry Yates
Henry Yates

Henry Yates has been a freelance journalist since 2002 and written about music for titles including The Guardian, The Telegraph, NME, Classic Rock, Guitarist, Total Guitar and Metal Hammer. He is the author of Walter Trout's official biography, Rescued From Reality, a music pundit on Times Radio and BBC TV, and an interviewer who has spoken to Brian May, Jimmy Page, Ozzy Osbourne, Ronnie Wood, Dave Grohl, Marilyn Manson, Kiefer Sutherland and many more.