Jimmy Page Thought the Yardbirds’ Manager Was ‘an Opportunist’ Who Didn’t Pay the Band What They Deserved

A black-and-white photo of Jimmy Page playing guitar

Before starting 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 the Yardbird’s manager Simon Napier-Bell and called him “an opportunist” according to Bob Spitz’s biography Led Zeppelin: The Biography.

Jimmy Page | Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

How Jimmy Page joined the Yardbirds

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

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

Page later joined the band after Samwell-Smith left, and he temporarily took over Samwell-Smith’s position of playing bass.

“I was terrified, having to fill Samwell-Smith’s role, but fortunately it went okay,” Page said in Bob Spitz’s Led Zeppelin: The Biography.

During Page’s tenure in the Yardbirds, Beck became sick and Page took over for him at guitar while Dreja moved to bass. When Beck returned, Page and Beck both played guitar until Beck left the group permanently.

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Jimmy Page did not like the Yardbirds’ manager

During Page’s earlier days in the Yardbirds, the band was managed by Napier-Bell, who Page disliked. However, it appears the feeling was mutual.

According to Led Zeppelin: The Biography, Napier-Bell thought Page was “very difficult to work with, always narky.” Because Page did not like Napier-Bell, he allegedly did not mind this criticism.

Part of Page’s animosity toward Napier-Bell was due to how the manager handled the money the Yardbirds earned.

Spitz writes that the manager had “dodgy bookkeeping that left the Yardbirds earning little more than a couple hundred pounds each after their various tours.”

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

RELATED: Led Zeppelin: Robert Plant Says Old Rock Bands Look ‘Decrepit’

The Yardbirds got a new manager

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

“It was really weird,” McCarty said in Led Zeppelin: The Biography. “We went to Most’s office in Oxford Street not knowing what to expect, and this enormous guy we’d never seen before told us, ‘I’m taking over for Simon.’”

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

“I’d known Peter from way back in the days of Immediate [Records], because our offices were next door to Mickie, and Peter was working for him,” Page said in Led Zeppelin: The Biography.

When warned by Napier-Bell about working with Page, Grant was not dissuaded from managing the Yardbirds.

“Oh, I’d deal with Jimmy, no problem,” Grant said in Led Zeppelin: The Biography.

Grant proved to be a much better fit as manager, both …read more

Source:: Showbiz Cheat Sheet


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