"It would’ve been nice to have done more with Keith": Jimmy Page recalls 1974 jam with Rolling Stones guitarist Keith Richards which stayed in the vaults for 45 years

Jimmy Page and Keith Richards
(Image credit: Dick Barnatt/Redferns | Graham Wiltshire/Redferns)

On July 22, 2020, The Rolling Stones released a single that had been in their vaults for 45 years. Asked by Irish actor Paul Mescal, the star of the song's video, why Scarlet had remained unreleased for such a long time, Mick Jagger replied, "It wasn’t really a Rolling Stones record."

In the same interview, Jagger admitted that he didn't actually remember the details of the October 1974 recording session which spawned the song, but stated that Led Zeppelin's Jimmy Page, who played lead guitar on the recording, "remembered everything."

"I remember being there, but that's all," Jagger confessed.

In a new interview with Uncut, arranged to celebrate Keith Richards' 80th birthday, which fell on December 18, Jimmy Page fills in the blanks in Jagger's memory.

"Ronnie [Wood] had the Wick [his house in Richmond] and the studio underneath," Page recalls. "He said, ‘Do you want to come round? I think Keith wants to do something.’ So that was the time when I really had a chance to play with him, because that was the backing track to ‘Scarlet’, with Keith playing rhythm and me doing a counterpoint riff. I remember thinking, ‘This is great,’ because I just wanted to sort of lay it on top of what he did and not get in the way."

"The following day, I put a couple of solo overdubs on it at Island [studios]. The thing I remember the most is that Keith was solid and driving and he didn’t make mistakes. He kept going all the way through. And I realised just what a powerful force he is behind those Rolling Stones records. There was no doubt about it. Of course, I could take it all apart and highlight everybody’s vital contribution, but Keith was really driving it."

The song was completed with Ric Grech from Blind Faith on bass, Fairport Convention’s Bruce Rowland on drums and Stones/Zeppelin collaborator Ian Stewart on piano.  At the time, a rumour circulated that the song, named after Page's young daughter, had been recorded for a Jimmy Page solo album, a story that Led Zeppelin's guitarist shot down in an interview with Rolling Stone magazine:  "Chalk that off to Keith’s sense of humour", Page said.

In his interview with Uncut, Page says, "You can hear from listening to ‘Scarlet’ that I’m really on the crest of a wave with Zeppelin, with all the playing, so it would’ve been nice to maybe have done more together with Keith around that time, before we moved on to other pastures. It was two guitar musos creating something, which is how it is when you get together with someone like that. It was similar to me and Jeff [Beck], where we’d just sort of lock in, because there’s an automatic sort of mutual respect for each other that’s built up over the years."

Watch the video for Scarlet below:

Paul Brannigan
Contributing Editor, Louder

A music writer since 1993, formerly Editor of Kerrang! and Planet Rock magazine (RIP), Paul Brannigan is a Contributing Editor to Louder. Having previously written books on Lemmy, Dave Grohl (the Sunday Times best-seller This Is A Call) and Metallica (Birth School Metallica Death, co-authored with Ian Winwood), his Eddie Van Halen biography (Eruption in the UK, Unchained in the US) emerged in 2021. He has written for Rolling Stone, Mojo and Q, hung out with Fugazi at Dischord House, flown on Ozzy Osbourne's private jet, played Angus Young's Gibson SG, and interviewed everyone from Aerosmith and Beastie Boys to Young Gods and ZZ Top. Born in the North of Ireland, Brannigan lives in North London and supports The Arsenal.