Before starting led zeppelin with Robert Plant, John Paul Jones and John Bonham, Jimmy Page he was a member of a band called the Yardbirds. While in the band, Page despised Yardbird’s manager Simon Napier-Bell, calling him “an opportunist” according to Bob Spitz’s biography. Led Zeppelin: The Biography.
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 parted ways with the group in 1965, Page was asked to join, but he recommended his friend Jeff Beck instead.
Page later joined the band after Samwell-Smith left, temporarily taking over Samwell-Smith’s position of playing bass.
“I was terrified that I would have to play the part of Samwell-Smith, but luckily it turned out well,” Page said in Bob Spitz. Led Zeppelin: The Biography.
During Page’s tenure with the Yardbirds, Beck fell ill and Page filled in for him on guitar while Dreja moved to bass. When Beck returned, Page and Beck played guitar until Beck left the group permanently.
Jimmy Page didn’t like the manager of the Yardbirds
During Page’s early days in the Yardbirds, the band was managed by Napier-Bell, who Page disliked. However, it seems that the feeling was mutual.
According to Led Zeppelin: The Biography, Napier-Bell thought that Page was “very difficult to work with, always cheeky”. Because Page did not like Napier-Bell, he supposedly did not care about this criticism.
Part of Page’s animosity towards Napier-Bell stemmed from the way the manager handled the money the Yardbirds were making.
Spitz writes that the manager had “dubious bookkeeping which left the Yardbirds earning just over a couple of hundred pounds each after their various tours.”
Because of this, Page viewed Napier-Bell as “an opportunist” who was taking advantage of the gang, according to Spitz’s biography.
The Yardbirds have a new manager.
When Beck left the Yardbirds, Napier-Bell became more interested in managing his solo career than managing the Yardbirds. Peter Grant of RAK Management, Mickie Most’s company, was sent to look after the Yardbirds.
“It was really weird,” McCarty said in Led Zeppelin: The Biography. “We went to the Oxford Street office of Most not knowing what to expect, and this huge guy we’ve never seen before said, ‘I’m taking over for Simon’.”
For Page, this change in management was a relief. To top it off, Page already knew Grant.
“I knew Peter from 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 Napier-Bell warned about working with Page, Grant wasn’t deterred from managing the Yardbirds.
“Oh, I’d take care of Jimmy, no problem,” Grant said in Led Zeppelin: The Biography.
Grant proved a much better fit as a coach, both for Page and the Yardbirds.