The Bassist Who Refused To Join Led Zeppelin Despite Jimmy Page’s Offer

Jimmy Page began his music career as a studio session musician. Between the years 1966 and 1968, he was a member of the Yardbirds. Page joined the band after Eric Clapton’s departure, but he suggested Jeff Beck fill in for him because he didn’t want to give up on his career as a session musician.

In 1966, Page recorded the song ‘Beck’s Bolero’ with Keith Moon, John Paul Jones, Nicky Hopkins, and Jeff Beck. This experience inspired him to form a supergroup with Beck, John Entwistle, and Keith Moon. Due to the lack of a quality vocalist and contractual issues, Page continued his musical efforts with the Yardbirds.

After Jeff Beck, Keith Relf, and Jim McCarty’s departure, Page reconfigured a new lineup for the Yardbirds. He then recruited Robert Plant, John Bonham, and John Paul Jones. This new group performed as the New Yardbirds, later changing their name to Led Zeppelin. When he formed the band, Page offered a bassist to join, but he refused to take part.

Who Rejected Jimmy Page’s Offer To Join The Newly Formed Led Zeppelin?

By 1968, Cream and the Jimi Hendrix Experience were among the most famous music acts. However, Keith Relf and Jim McCarty didn’t want to make psychedelic blues-rock like them — they wanted a musical style inspired by classical music and folk. On the other hand, Jimmy Page wanted to continue with a heavy tone.

Relf and McCarty decided to leave by March but stayed for one more American tour. The Yardbirds released their final single in March and played their last shows on May 31 and June 1, 4, and 5. On June 12, they announced the departure of Relf and McCarty and played one last show on July 7, 1968.

In the end, Jimmy Page and Chris Dreja were the band’s remaining members. They had a tour scheduled for late summer 1968 in Scandinavia ahead, so the pair decided to put a new lineup together. So, they began to search for new recruitments for the band.

At first, B.J. Wilson, Paul Francis, and Clem Cattini were considered drummers. Terry Reid was asked to replace Relf, but he recommended Robert Plant instead. After joining, Plant recommended his friend John Bonham as a drummer. Although Page offered Chris Dreja to be the bassist, he declined to pursue a career as a rock photographer.

So, Chris Dreja would have joined Led Zeppelin back when the band was in the formation period. However, he wanted to have a profession in photography and refused Jimmy Page’s offer. Instead of joining the Zeppelin, he photographed the band for the back cover of their 1969 debut ‘Led Zeppelin.’