Guitarist Jimmy Page formed the band Led Zeppelin in 1968 with Robert Plant, John Paul Jones and John Bonham. By the time he formed Led Zeppelin, Page had already begun to make a name for himself through his work with Neil Christian & the Crusaders and with Neil Christian the Yardbirds. However, a large part of Page’s skills and networks stems from his work as a session musician.
After touring with Neil Christian & the Crusaders as a teenager, Page contracted mononucleosis. Because of this, he took a break from performing and eventually enrolled in art college.
Page enrolled at Sutton Art College, which gave him an opportunity to recharge and rediscover his love of performing as he had become bored with touring and falling ill.
Corresponding Led Zeppelin: The BiographyAfter all, her art school was “an incubator for rock ‘n’ roll”.
“It was a very relaxed atmosphere. And while you were in art school, someone always started a band,” Page’s friend Colin Golding shared in the bio.
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Around the same time, Page was attending art school, Keith Richards of the Rolling Stones was attending Sidcup Art College, guitarist Eric Clapton was attending Kingston School of Art, and John Lennon of the Beatles was enrolling at Liverpool College of Art.
During her time at art school, Page found ways to rediscover the joy of making music. He played in a pickup band with friends and also returned to record music with Neil Christian & the Crusaders.
The guitarist also found another way to make music by becoming a session musician. In 1962, Glyn Johns recommended Page to Tony Meehan, who decided to audition for Page.
During trial practice, Page found that he could not read sheet music, as all of his previous work came from teaching himself to replicate sounds.
“They taped a series of dots in front of me that looked like crows on telegraph wires,” Page said Led Zeppelin: The Biography.
However, Meehan didn’t cut Page and instead had him perform on rhythm guitar, giving Page a chance to make real money playing music.
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As exciting as Page’s chance was, he had to temporarily stop taking jobs as a session musician because it clashed with art school.
“Jimmy called me and said the art school found out he was making money and he was going to lose his scholarship,” Johns said Led Zeppelin: The Biography“so he didn’t want to do any more sessions.”
For now, Page had to focus on practicing guitar on his own while simultaneously painting for school.
“Jimmy wasn’t an artist at all,” Page’s friend Dave Williams said in the bio. “He just did little things like drawing circles.”
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