Is It True That Jimmy Page Once Played With The Who?

by Emilio Pérez Miguel on August 28, 2010

Jimmy Page Played On The Who’s First Single “I Can’t Explain/Bald Headed Woman”. Producer Shel Talmy Used Him Extensively In Those Days.

Jimmy Page Played On The Who’s First Single “I Can’t Explain/Bald Headed Woman”. Producer Shel Talmy Used Him Extensively In Those Days.

Yes, it is true. He played on their debut single, “I Can’t Explain/Bald Headed Woman”. The single was produced by Shel Talmy. He was famous for barring bands from playing on their own records, and for using session players to get the job done instead. The Kinks (the first British hit band he produced) had to put up with that for quite some time.

When The Who went into the studio to record their first single, they found themselves outnumbered by session men. These included a trio of singers named The Ivy League, and a young (but already legendary) Jimmy Page. Talmy used him in all his sessions whenever possible.

Page was supposed to play the lead both on “I Can’t Explain” and “Bald Headed Woman”. However, in order to play the “I Can’t Explain” riff a twelve-string Rickenbacker was needed. Page didn’t have one. Townshend did. And he would have lost an arm before lending it to Page. So The Who’s frontman was the one who played the lead, while Page strummed along.

The B-side, now, was a different story. The song “Bald Headed Woman” was written by Talmy, and in those days it wasn’t uncommon for a producer to have his songs placed as B-sides in order to earn some extra cash. As a matter of fact, The Kinks had recorded “Bald Headed Woman” under similar circumstances. The song required a fuzztone effects box, which Pete Townshend didn’t have. So, Jimmy Page did end up playing the lead on a Who song after all.

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