Session Bass Legend Explains What You Shouldn’t Ever Do When Playing With Jimmy Page

Bassist Guy Pratt, who worked as a backing musician for a variety of big names, both inside and outside of the rock realm, recently recalled how he got a gig with Jimmy Page and David Coverdale in the Coverdale/Page project. During his appearance on the No Treble podcast, Pratt looked back on the time when he worked as a live member of Pink Floyd and how the gig came to be.

First asked whether the Coverdale/Page project was conceived due to “industry pressure” to finally help bring Jimmy Pahe and Robert Plant back together, Pratt first expressed his fondness of David Coverdale (via Ultimate Guitar):

“He is just amazing. He’s an unwritable character. He is just beyond any level of adorable. Just hilarious. I could listen to him say the word ‘evil’ all day. [laughs]

LDL Ep 18 Learning To Fly

“So I don’t actually know anything about the origins of that. I had always had it in my head that, if anything, it was driven by David.

“Maybe David was kind of coming off his big Whitesnake thing and was trying to… Maybe this is a way of sort of living a dream or something. I don’t know if it was pressure on that.”

Going a step back and remembering how he got the chance to work with the two rock legends, Pratt reveals that it was actually his tech Lionel Ward who helped him get the spot for the project. The bassist recalls:

“It was a very funny thing because it was Lionel [Ward], Jimmy’s tech, who had teched for me when I did the big Knebworth gig with Pink Floyd, where we had lined over Paul McCartney in 1990. And we got on really well.

LDL Ep 17 See Emily Play NMSOS

However, things were far from simple at that point. The project was kept in the dark and even Pratt, who was considered as a potential bassist, wasn’t allowed to know what it actually was, except that it was a high-profile gig. He continued:

“And so he [said] they’d had a couple of bass players that hadn’t worked out. And so he’d recommended me but it was this weird thing of… He couldn’t tell me what the gig was. It was all ‘We have this nickname…’ He said, ‘Have you heard from the secret squirrel?’ [Laughs]

“He said, ‘There’s this gig, can you do that? Are you good?’ I said, ‘Well, it kind of depends who it is.’ ‘No, no, no, no, you’ll like it. You’ll like it. Trust me.'”

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2_\u002d\u002dl7CPc7E\u0026ab_channel=MandioXx

After settling for it and finding out what it was all about, Pratt admits that he felt pretty nervous about meeting Jimmy Page. Well, “terrified” would probably be a better word. As he explained:

“I remember turning up for rehearsals. Here’s one of those things. It’s the classic thing like…. I was talking about Pete [Townsend, The Who] earlier and how [he] always terrified me. I’m kind of past that. David [Gilmour] terrified me for years. We were great friends, and he still terrified me.

“But the prospect of meeting Jimmy Page was terrifying. Just the thought of him was really scary.

David Coverdale & Jimmy Page - Take Me For A Little While

However, when he actually met Page, it was not at all what he expected:

“And yet, it was that weird thing of when I met him how that all evaporated. I felt so comfortable around him immediately.

“And the great thing is when you work with someone like that, and it’s like, ‘Fucking hell, he is that guy…’ He absolutely is that guy. His comprehension of music…”

At the moment of Pratt getting the audition and getting the gig, the Coverdale/Page album was already out. Nonetheless, they were still looking for a proper touring lineup and Pratt was completely oblivious of who he was auditioning for until the very moment of getting into the rehearsal space.

Coverdale/Page - Live In Osaka, Japan - 1993.12.20 - Full Concert.

While reflecting on what it was like to work with Jimmy Page, Pratt explained how the Led Zeppelin guitarist’s music is far more intricate than it might seem at first. He continued:

“I can’t remember what track it was. But it was something quite tricky, a Led Zeppelin one and I remember sitting at home, really late at night working out this riff and going ‘Okay, Jimmy, I’ve got that.'”

“And he went ‘No, no, no, it’s not that.’ ‘What?!’ And he goes, ‘Look, it’s this.’ And I remember looking at his hand thinking, ‘But it can’t be that, that would be ridiculous. Fucking hell. It is.'”

Coverdale / Page 1993 - Saccharin (unreleased song)

Most importantly, Pratt explained what you shouldn’t ever do when playing with Jimmy Page. And no, it’s not anything that you might think. He said:

“The way he counts… Don’t ever watch his foot. With most people, if you’re in trouble, just look at their foot. With him — never.

“Because it’s in some weird raga contra temporal compounds time thing. A lot of his stuff is just kind of uncountable. ‘In My Time of Dying,’ there’s all these bits in it what I call is a Bar of Pi 4.”

In My Time of Dying (1990 Remaster)

In an interview from a few years ago, Pratt explained in more detail how he actually found out about this secret project involving Jimmy Page. Asked about how he got the gig, he replied:

“Yeah, how did I? [Laughs] That came through Jimmy’s guitar tech, Lionel [Ward], who looked after me when I did Knebworth with Pink Floyd in 1990. It was very hush-hush. Lionel kept saying, ‘I’ve got this project and you’d be great for it.‘ I said, ‘Great.‘ But he wouldn’t tell me who it was. I was like, ‘I can’t just agree without you saying who it is. What if it’s [‘The Lady in Red’ singer] Chris de Burgh?‘”

“He basically said, ‘Come down to the rehearsal studio.‘ I walked in and there was fuckin’ Jimmy Page and David Coverdale! I nearly shat myself. That was amazing. From that, I wound up doing quite a few things with Jimmy over the years. And I wound up on a Whitesnake album! I am definitely the only person who has been in the Smiths and Whitesnake. [Laughs]

Photos: Davidwbaker (GuyPratt 2022-10-28), Avda (Jimmy Page at the Echo music award 2013)

Author

  • David Slavkovic

    David always planned for music to be nothing more than a hobby. However, after a short career as an agricultural engineer he ended up news editor at KillerGuitarRigs, senior editor at Ultimate-Guitar.com, as well as a freelance contributor to online magazines such as GuitaristNextdoor.