The underappreciated Rolling Stones member Jimmy Page called “phenomenal”

Jimmy Page

Jimmy Page could have easily chosen to become a music historian if he hadn’t become well-known for being the guitar wizard behind hard rock legends Led Zeppelin.

As a session musician in the 1960s, the guitarist, among many others, worked side by side with The Beatles, Van Morrison, and The Rolling Stones, giving him a front-row seat to the evolution of modern rock and roll. From this position, Page was able to identify several talented musicians who were frequently disregarded.

Before Led Zeppelin was even formed, Jimmy Page had been perfecting his guitar playing for decades. The band’s name is almost synonymous with the amazing hard rock scene of the 1970s.

As a young fan of the skiffle movement, Page soon developed a taste for the six-string. He carried that passion into the 1960s, rising to prominence as one of the nation’s most in-demand session musicians. The guitarist was able to hone his skills during this phase of his career and establish relationships with bands like The Rolling Stones when they were still relatively new.

Naturally, session musicians’ eternal tragedy is that they put in a lot of work for very little pay. Throughout the 1960s, Page’s guitar playing was a vital component of countless rock songs, but he didn’t achieve much recognition until he started performing with The Yardbirds. The renowned blues-rock group additionally paved the way for the careers of fellow guitarists Jeff Beck and Eric Clapton. Page met the sadly underappreciated Ian Stewart, another essential figure in 1960s rock, at this period.

Although Stewart was one of the original members of The Rolling Stones in 1962, manager Andrew Oldham promptly dropped him from the group’s official lineup. He played keyboards and went on tour with the band for many years. However, he never achieved the same level of recognition as people like Mick Jagger or Keith Richards. But to Jimmy Page, Stewart’s skills were always apparent.

The guitarist for Led Zeppelin thought back on the late Stewart’s career in a 2020 interview with Classic Rock, saying, “The thing is, he was in The Stones.” He was the extra participant. However, he wasn’t exactly what Andrew [Oldham] wanted to have in The Stones. Thus, while he continued to be a member of The Stones, he was a tour manager, and also playing on the records as well.”

When asked if he would have preferred to collaborate with the keyboardist more, Page replied, “Stu was amazing.” He was an expert pianist. He was a great man and very cool. Would I have gone on tour with him then? He’s always been with The Stones, but we did a Rocket 88 together. We had a great time jamming with Rocket 88 during our performance in Northampton.

Apart from that Northampton show, Stewart collaborated with Page on two well-known Led Zeppelin songs. He first appears on the iconic song “Rock and Roll” from 1971. Later, he can be heard on Physical Graffiti’s “Boogie With Stu,” which even got its name from Stewart’s nickname. Jimmy Page always valued Ian Stewart, even though sometimes people disregard his impact on The Rolling Stones’ history.

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