In the beginning, three of rock’s greatest guitarist all lived within a 12-mile radius. What’s more, Eric Clapton, Jimmy Page, and Jeff Beck were friends as they came of age in the same general area of metro London. And, eventually, all three played lead guitar for The Yardbirds.
As fans of The Yardbirds know well, you couldn’t play guitar in the band without being into the blues. Clapton, who joined the group shortly after its 1963 formation, was something of a blues purist at the time, and The Yardbirds’ repertoire leaned heavily on American blues standards.
So when the band took a turn toward pop with “For Your Love” (1965), Clapton took that as his cue to leave The Yardbirds. Soon enough, he was back to recording the blues. At a ’65 session with John Mayall and the Bluesbreakers, Clapton found Page in the control room producing.
That same year, when blues piano giant Otis Spann recorded over 20 tracks in England for Decca, Clapton played on the sessions. And when two tracks went out as a single, they also featured Page on various instruments.
Eric Clapton and Jimmy Page both appear on Otis Spann’s ‘Stirs Me Up’ single
When you’re dealing with recording dates from over 55 years ago, the details can get fuzzy. However, some things about Spann’s Decca sessions are not disputed. For starters, per the JPP Session Man website, Spann’s band featured both Muddy Waters and Clapton on guitars.
Furthermore, we know that the two tracks that went out as a 1964 single were “Stirs Me Up” (A-side) and “Keep Your Hand Out of My Pocket” (B-side). Though he didn’t play on the original sessions, Page did add overdubs to both sides of the single.
Here’s where some questions have popped up. While Rolling Stone limited Page’s involvement to harmonica only on “Stirs Me Up,” JPP Session Man has Page performing guitar on that track. The site also has Page adding guitar, harmonica, and bass work on the B-side.
Regardless, both sites (as well as JimmyPage.com) have the future founder of Led Zeppelin on the recordings. So I’m guessing Page got called in to add to the tracks prior to their single release.
Clapton and Page hit a rough patch in their relationship shortly after
While Clapton, Page, and Beck were tight in the early ’60s, they drifted apart for various reasons as the years went on. In the case of the Page-Clapton friendship, a problem arose after the two friends jammed together at Page’s house in 1965 with a tape player running.
Page, then working for Andrew Loog Oldham at Immediate Records, made the mistake of mentioning the jams to his boss. Oldham claimed ownership of the recordings and released them after having overdubs added to the tapes. (Page made some of the overdubs, as did Mick Jagger.)
Though Page hadn’t wanted or expected the recordings to hit the market, Oldham made sure they did. That didn’t sit well with Clapton, who’d thought he was just playing guitar with a buddy at his house (which he was). But, to paraphrase an old Yardbirds song, that was happening 55 years time ago. Water under the bridge and so forth.
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