Q Magazine

Flipping Through Jimmy Page's Back Catalog as a Session Musician for Tom Jones, The Who, Donovan, Brenda Lee, and Many Others

Page, who turns 80 this year, spent several years as a studio guitarist before finally hitting the big time with Led Zeppelin.

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Jimmy Page at the premiere of "Becoming Led Zeppelin"

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It's a momentous day in rock and roll, with one of the world's most legendary guitarists hitting the big 8-0: James Patrick Page, better known to his friends and Jimmy. Of course, it's a given that Mr. Page will go down in history for his work with Led Zeppelin, but it's been well documented over the years that our man Jimmy spent more than a little bit of time in the studio as a session guitarist before joining forces with Robert Plant, John Paul Jones, and John Bonham to form a band the likes of which had never been seen.

As such, Q decided to embark on compiling a playlist that encompasses tracks from throughout Page's career, incorporating not only the session work he did before becoming a member of Led Zeppelin but, indeed, some of the guest appearances that he made both during and after his tenure with the band. We do not claim that it is complete, partially because - no surprise here - not every track that Page played on is available on Spotify, but also because we thought that since we had to end it somewhere, we might as well end it at 80 tracks, to coincide with the guitar god's age this year.

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Robert Plant, Jimmy Page, and John Paul Jones at the premiere of 'Celebration Day.'

Page detailed some of his favorite sessions in a 2021 interview with British GQ, including "Goldfinger," with Shirley Bassey:

"I was playing guitar in the orchestra for John Barry. The full orchestra sounded absolutely amazing, but then Shirley Bassey arrived. She arrived with a friend, was very quiet and then was asked to come out and sing. And it took her just one take. And at the end of the tape she collapsed on the floor. At the end of the song she just held this one note and she basically ran out of breath and collapsed. You know how dramatic she is usually, what with all the stuff she does with her hands, but this was even more dramatic – and I was in the front row of the musicians, so I really had a good view of all of this."

In the same interview, Page was also asked about appearing on The Who's "I Can't Explain" single:

"I was actually pulled in as a second guitarist alongside Pete Townshend, which was pretty amazing, because we were recording it in a really small studio. Pete plays lead and, by God, does he play the lead on 'I Can’t Explain.' Again, this only took a couple of takes, but you can imagine what the energy was like in that room, being in an enclosed space playing along with The Who. I wasn’t really needed or necessary, but it’s OK to talk about those things now because Pete’s fine with it. And he knows he played absolutely magnificently."

So there's two classic tracks featuring Jimmy Page that you probably already knew. Rest assured, there are others in the mix, along with more than a few that will probably be new to your ears. Hit "play" and receive a fascinating musical education...


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