The Musician Jimmy Page Had Trouble Replacing

Jimmy Page undoubtedly left his mark on the music world with his signature guitar playing style and monolithic riffs. He was also the co-writer of many Led Zeppelin classics. At the beginning of his career, Page was a session guitarist working with the bands like The Rolling Stones, The Who, and The Kinks. He made a name as one of the most sought-after session guitarists in a short time in Britain with his incredible talent, but his session work was no longer enough, so he started to look for a band to join full time.

The opportunity arose when the Yardbird’s bassist Paul Samwell-Smith decided to leave the band. Page had been approached by them twice before to replace Eric Clapton, but he had declined both offers. He was now willing to join the band but not initially a guitarist. Page started as a bassist for the Yardbirds, but it was not an easy job to handle.

Jimmy Page Had Trouble Replacing Paul Samwell-Smith

Jimmy Page had to put down his guitar to play the bass, but he wasn’t originally a bass player. At the time, Jeff Beck, a good friend of Page, was the lead guitarist of the Yardbirds, so they needed a bassist, not a guitar player. Page still agreed to join them, probably hoping he would switch to playing guitar later.

The Yardbirds co-founder and former bassist Paul Samwell-Smith was known for his remarkable bass works, and he had a significant influence on the band’s sound, so replacing him must have been hard for Jimmy Page. During a previous interview with Music Radar in 2021, Page was asked about this topic and said that the band had some shows scheduled to complete, so they needed him to play the bass.

However, he defined the shows as ‘hard gigs‘ although he was an experienced session musician at the time. He was both playing bass, which he wasn’t used to, and trying to replace Paul Samwell-Smith, who had his unique playing style identified with the band. Thus, it was not an easy thing to handle for him.

Here are Jimmy Page’s words on replacing Paul Samwell-Smith:

“Yes, because Paul Samwell-Smith left the band, and they had dates to do. I’ll tell you what, that was a hard gig; it doesn’t matter if I’d done sessions or whatever: I’m playing bass and trying to fill Paul Samwell-Smith’s shoes, and that was tough.

But the idea was that Chris Dreja would take over the bass, and Jeff and I would play guitars together, so we did stuff where I do a bit of bowing, doing stuff like ‘Over Under Sideways Down’ in harmony guitars. It was just fun. It was really good and promising. There wasn’t anything like that, not what we were doing or were planning.”

Jimmy Page also revealed the plan they made for the shows. The band’s rhythm guitarist Chris Dreja would switch to bass so that he would have a chance to play guitar together with Jeff Beck. Luckily, their plan went well during the live performances, and Page had a lot of fun trying something different.