Jeff Beck names the band that gave Led Zeppelin their “blueprint”

The late Jeff Beck was one of the most important guitarists Britain has ever produced. Alongside many of his most eminent peers, he emerged as part of the cultural tsunami in the 1960s and continued to refine his craft until his passing in January 2023.

Famously, Beck rose as one of the most sought-after guitarists in 1960s London. As he developed his distinctive style, he would become part of the day’s most eminent set of guitarists, alongside Eric Clapton, Jimmy Page and Big Jim Sullivan. Beck’s talent was so unstoppable that in March 1965, he was recruited by one of the city’s most trailblazing groups, The Yardbirds, to succeed Eric Clapton.

In a display of the tight-knit nature of the day, The Yardbirds hired Beck at the behest of Jimmy Page, their first choice, who also was plying his trade as a session musician at the time. However, he was reluctant to give up his day job, as it was becoming highly lucrative thanks to a series of hits he had played on. Ironically, Jimmy Page would join The Yardbirds on bass after Paul Samwell-Smith abruptly left the group.

He then swapped with Chris Dreja and moved onto the guitar, forming a searing twin assault with Jeff Beck. Tracks like ‘Happenings Ten Years Time Ago’ remain among the group’s most important because they pushed psychedelic rock into a much more expansive realm.

In fact, 1966 was a tremendous year for Jeff Beck. In May that year, he recorded the boundary-pushing instrumental track ‘Beck’s Bolero’, released in March of the following year. A monumental offering, it also features Jimmy Page on the guitar – who even claims he wrote it – and a stellar backing band. Also appearing on the track were The Who’s drummer Keith Moon, future Led Zeppelin bassist and celebrated session musician John Paul Jones and Britain’s finest keyboardist, Nicky Hopkins. In many ways, this collaboration paved the way for Page to join The Yardbirds the following month.

When speaking to Fuzz in 1999, it was put to Beck that it was a pity that a planned supergroup after ‘Beck’s Bolero’ with Jimmy Page and John Paul Jones didn’t work out, as it would have made for an anarchic spectacle on stage. Beck agreed and said he believed the lineup who played on the track provided “the blueprint” for Led Zeppelin. As is well-known, Jimmy Page started the band in 1968 following the dissolution of The Yardbirds.

Beck said: “That would have been the best. But we didn’t have a singer – and I still maintain there was the blueprint for Led Zeppelin somewhere in there. Pagey, me, and Nicky Hopkins, and Keith Moon and John Paul Jones – we were the mob. But unfortunately, everyone had prior commitments. That session that day, it was one day that really started my head turning, we were almost doing it.”

Listen to ‘Beck’s Bolero’ below.

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