Sunday, November 27, 2022

Jimmy Page considered the Yardbirds’ manager an “opportunist” who didn’t pay the band what it deserved

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Before forming Led Zeppelin with Robert Plant, John Paul Jones and John Bonham, Jimmy Page was a member of a band called the Yardbirds. While in the band, Page despised Yardbird manager Simon Napier-Bell, calling him “an opportunist,” according to Bob Spitz’s biography. Led Zeppelin: The Biography.

In 1963, Keith Relf, ​​​​Paul Samwell-Smith, Top Topham, Jim McCarty and Chris Dreja formed the Yardbirds. After the band originally formed, Eric Clapton replaced Topham.

When Clapton left the group in 1965, Page was asked to join, but he recommended his friend Jeff Beck instead.

Page later joined the band after Samwell-Smith left, temporarily taking over Samwell-Smith’s position as bass player.

“I was terrified about taking Samwell-Smith’s role, but luckily it went well,” Page said of Bob Spitz’s role Led Zeppelin: The Biography.

During Page’s tenure with the Yardbirds, Beck fell ill and Page took over on guitar while Dreja switched to bass. When Beck returned, Page and Beck both played guitar until Beck left the group for good.

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In Page’s early days with the Yardbirds, the band was managed by Napier-Bell, whom Page disliked. However, it seems that the feeling was mutual.

Corresponding Led Zeppelin: The Biography, Napier-Bell thought Page was “very difficult to work with, always narky”. Since Page disliked Napier-Bell, the criticism reportedly didn’t bother him.

Part of Page’s animosity towards Napier-Bell stemmed from how the manager handled the money the Yardbirds were making.

Spitz writes that the manager had “shady accounting practices which resulted in the Yardbirds earning little more than a few hundred pounds each from their various tours”.

Because of this, Page viewed Napier-Bell as “an opportunist” who took advantage of the band, according to Spitz’s biography.

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When Beck left the Yardbirds, Napier-Bell was more interested in his solo career than in leading the Yardbirds. Peter Grant of RAK Management, Mickie Most’s company, was then sent to look after the Yardbirds.

“It was really weird,” McCarty said Led Zeppelin: The Biography. “We walked into Most’s office on Oxford Street not knowing what to expect and this huge guy, who we had never seen before, told us, ‘I’ll take over for Simon.'”

For Page, this leadership change was a relief. To top it off, Page already knew Grant.

“I knew Peter from the days of Immediate [Records]because our offices were next to Mickie and Peter worked for him,” Page said Led Zeppelin: The Biography.

When Napier-Bell warned against working with Page, Grant persisted in managing the Yardbirds.

“Oh, I’d take care of Jimmy, no problem,” Grant said Led Zeppelin: The Biography.

Grant proved to be a much better suited manager for both Page and the Yardbirds.

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