The Truth About Jimmy Page's Guitar Solo On With A Little Help From My Friends

Jimmy Page is best known as the ax-slinger for legendary rock band Led Zeppelin, but before teaming up with Robert Plant, John Paul Jones, and John Bonham, Page had several other gigs. Page was born in Heston, Middlesex, England in 1944, and he first picked up a guitar when he was 13 years old after hearing the Elvis song "Baby Let's Play House" (via All Music).

Page's first band was called Neil Christian & the Crusaders in which Page was — obviously — one of the Crusaders. However, he had to quit the band and turned his focus toward painting after dealing with an illness. However, as blues-rock picked up steam in England he became interested in music once again. Page soon became one of the most sought-after session players in the entire country and worked with artists like the Who, the Rolling Stones, and the Kinks, and even played on the soundtrack for the Beatles' "A Hard Day's Night," film score, per Guitar World. He joined the Yardbirds in 1966. After the Yardbirds broke up in 1968, Page formed Led Zeppelin.

That same year, Page appeared on a cover of the Beatles' classic "With A Little Help From My Friends" by Joe Cocker.

A Little Help From My Friends

In 1967, the Beatles — already the biggest band in the world — released their groundbreaking album, " Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band." In 2003, Rolling Stone named it the greatest album ever made, highly revered for its innovation across the board from concept to songwriting to recording. The Beatles never really had a frontman, with John Lennon and Paul McCartney trading vocal duties and handling the bulk of the songwriting in the band's early days, with Harrison singing on some songs in the mid-1960s. With "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band," It was time for drummer Ringo Starr to take the mic.

Ringo's song — "A Little Help From My Friends" — was the last song written for the album, and McCartney said in the book "Paul McCartney: Many Years From Now" by Barry Miles, that they had some difficulty writing a song that was in a key suitable for Ringo to sing. They managed to do it, and the finished product became a classic after Ringo, who later admitted to being insecure about singing, nailed most of the song in just a handful of takes (via Rolling Stone).

Joe Cocker get his career on track

Joe Cocker started his career in music by singing for his brother's band, the Headliners, before switching to drums for his brother's other band the Cavaliers, according to The Guardian. In 1964, Cocker signed with Decca Records — the label that infamously passed on the Beatles several years earlier, per Ultimate Classic Rock — and he released a single. Ironically, the song he put out was a cover of the Beatle's song "I'll Cry Instead." It wasn't a success, but Cocker wasn't done covering Beatles songs just yet.

In 1968, Cocker was signed to EMI's Regal Zonophone label, and put out a moderately successful song called "Marjorine." Next, he did another Beatles cover, this time "With A Little Help From My Friends." Giving him a hand in the studio was Jimmy Page, fresh out of the Yardbirds and on the verge of starting his signature band, Led Zeppelin. What Cocker and company put together even stunned the Beatles themselves.

Joe Cocker's version of the song

Joe Cocker's version of the Beatles classic is arguably just as much of a classic. It's drastically different from the arrangement the Beatles used, and of course, it features Jimmy Page's legendary guitar work. According to Showbiz CheatSheet, his solo on the song is often hailed as the high-water mark of his session career, which is saying quite a lot. However, he actually played on five songs on the album, which was called "A Little Help From My Friends," per Rolling Stone

After Cocker died in 2014, Paul McCartney released a statement to pay tribute to his late friend and recounted first hearing Cocker's version of "A Little Help From My Friends." According to Billboard, McCartney mentioned the time he first heard what Cocker had done with the song. "I was especially pleased when he decided to cover 'With A Little Help From My Friends' and I remember him and Denny Cordell coming round to the studio in Saville Row and playing me what they'd recorded and it was just mind-blowing, totally turned the song into a soul anthem and I was forever grateful for him for doing that."