When Jimmy Page’s Lead Guitar Lit Up Donovan’s No. 1 ‘Sunshine Superman’

by Jeremy Spirogis
Jimmy Page in The Yardbirds

If you run by the session work of Jimmy Page in his pre-Led Zeppelin days, you hear one basic tune after one other. In 1964, Page performed behind Pete Townshend on “I Can’t Explain,” the rocking debut single by The Who.

That identical yr, Page performed on one other seminal observe, “Baby Please Don’t Go” (by Van Morrison and Them). The credit proceed rolling from there. In addition to the title observe from Goldfinger and the A Hard Day’s Night soundtrack, Page additionally labored on a Rolling Stones recording.

By 1965, Page was shifting from rhythm guitar to guide duties. That yr, he performed with a younger David Bowie’s Manish Boys and even lower his personal single (that includes Page on vocals). And Page’s recordings have been getting a number of airplay. (His first session, actually, turned a UK No. 1 hit.)

In late ’65, Page received the decision to work on periods with Donovan, who’d had successful with “Catch the Wind” the yr earlier than. This time round, Donovan would hit No. 1 in America with Page’s guitar work featured on the report.

Jimmy Page and John Paul Jones performed on ‘Sunshine Superman’

Jimmy Page in The Yardbirds
1966: Guitarist Jimmy Page of the rock band “The Yardbirds” offers an interview backstage in 1966. | Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

In 1965, Donovan started working with Mickie Most, a producer who’d had hits with The Animals (“House of the Rising Sun”) and Herman’s Hermits (“I’m Into Something Good”). By then, Most had develop into conversant in Page’s work and had begun utilizing the younger guitarist on periods.

So it wouldn’t have been a shock that Page performed on tracks for Donovan’s album, Sunshine Superman. The title observe, launched as a single in mid-’66 (lengthy earlier than the album appeared), delivered an early model of the psychedelic rock that caught on later that yr.

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With Page’s lead strains bouncing off a harpsichord and acoustic guitar, the observe served as the best automobile for Donovan’s idea and lyric. And at 1:54, you hear Page take off for a solo that lasts virtually 30 seconds. (Other variations transfer an extended Page solo to later within the observe.)

And Page wasn’t the one future member of Led Zeppelin who performed on “Sunshine Superman.” John Paul Jones, who was about as ubiquitous as Page in London periods these days, equipped the electrical bass half.

‘Sunshine Superman’ cracked No. 1 in September ’66

Jimmy Page on Yardbirds tour, 1966Jimmy Page on Yardbirds tour, 1966
Jimmy Page of “The Yardbirds” chats with followers following his live performance on the Whisky A Go Go in August 1966 in Los Angeles. | Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

After the December ’65 recording, “Sunshine Superman” took some time to hit the airwaves. Due to a contractual dispute, it didn’t get launched till July ’66. But that didn’t soften its blow in America. In September, itthe observe topped the Billboard pop charts (the Hot 100) for Donovan’s solely No. 1 hit.

As quickly as Donovan’s producer Most heard a full association of the observe, he knew they’d successful on their arms. According to Donovan, Most advised him to not play it for The Beatles, with whom he had develop into mates. “Don’t let Paul McCartney hear it,” Donovan recalled Most saying (through The Guardian).

By 1966, The Beatles can be experimenting with psychedelic rock with tracks like “Tomorrow Never Knows” (Revolver). And when Page joined The Yardbirds in mid-’66 he and Beck would put a heavy cost into the period’s pysch experiments with “Happening Ten Years Time Ago.” It was a good time for rock ‘n’ roll.

Also see: How Jimmy Page and The Yardbirds Got Into ‘Blow-Up’ Instead of The Who

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