"This guitarist is impossible to record": Jimmy Page shares memories of his studio session with Eric Clapton and John McVie, pre-Led Zeppelin, Cream and Fleetwood Mac

Jimmy Page, John Mayall and the Bluesbreakers
(Image credit: RB/Redferns | Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images)

It's a well known fact that, before he put together Led Zeppelin, Jimmy Page was a much in-demand session guitarist. Less well known, is the fact that the young guitarist was also employed as a producer and A&R man, for former Rolling Stones manager Andrew Loog-Oldham's Immediate Records label.

One studio session which Page oversaw in the summer of 1965 was organised at London's Pye Studios to record I'm Your Witch Doctor by John Mayall and The Bluesbreakers, who on the time featured Eric Clapton on guitar, John McVie on bass, and jazz drummer Hughie Flint. The single was to be the group's first after losing their record contract with Decca. 

"It was recorded in June of 1965," recalls Page in a post on Instagram. "When Witch Doctor came to be overdubbed, Eric had this idea to put this feedback wail over the top. I was with him in the studio as he set this up, then I got back into the control room and told the engineer to record the overdub.⁣"

"About two-thirds of the way through, he pulled the faders down and said: This guitarist is impossible to record," Page continues. "I guess his technical ethics were compromised by the signal that was putting the meters into the red. I suggested that he got on with his job and leave that decision to me!⁣"

Listen to the single below:

In his post, Page also praises Clapton for his solo on the single's B-side, Telephone Blues, writing that it was "just superb."

The Mayall/Clapton/McVie/Flint line-up of the band would sign a new Decca contract and release their debut album, Blues Breakers, affectionately known as 'The Beano Album', in 1966. Clapton would go on to form Cream later that year, while John McVie went on to join Fleetwood Mac the following year.

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.