Jimmy Page says an engineer once called Eric Clapton “impossible to record”

The musician looks back on a memorable exchange between him and an engineer back at Pye Studios.

Jimmy Page and Eric Clapton

Image: Dave J Hogan / Brian Rasic / Getty Images

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Jimmy Page might just be the only man in history who’s heard guitar legend Eric Clapton being described as “impossible to record”.

As Page recalls in a recent Instagram post, the memorable exchange occurred while Page was working as a producer with John Mayall on his 1965 single, I’m Your Witchdoctor/Telephone Blues. The album was recorded at Pye Studios with jazzer Hughie Flint on drums, John McVie on bass, John Mayall on keyboards and vocals, and Clapton on guitar.

“When Witchdoctor came to be overdubbed, Eric had this idea to put this feedback wail over the top,” Page explains. “I was with him in the studio as he set this up, then I got back into the control room and told the engineer to record the overdub.⁣”

⁣”About two-thirds of the way through, he pulled the faders down and said: ‘This guitarist is impossible to record’. I guess his technical ethics were compromised by the signal that was putting the meters into the red. I suggested that he got on with his job and leave that decision to me!⁣”

Page also notes that Clapton’s work on the B-side of the single turned out fantastic, saying: “Eric’s solo on Telephone Blues was just superb. I would like to have seen Ainsley Dunbar on drums in the studio for Witchdoctor.”

He adds: “I also produced Sitting On Top of the World, showing John Mayall’s blues to Top 20 ambitions, and Double Crossing Time, an ironic title as the next time I heard of them they were in the very capable hands of Mike Vernon – famed blues producer. It was a good move: Eric left The Yardbirds because they had Top 20 aspirations!”

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