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Larry Badgely

Beck's Belero

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For a long time Jimmy Page claimed he wrote it, arranged it, produced it and played on it. I don't know where he stands on it now, that interview was from the early 90s.

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Also, the U.S performing rights society has it as written by Jimmy Page and his society affiliation as ASCAP, the ASCAP site doesn't list the song, BUT BMI lists the song as being controlled by Universal, who is a huge company so it makes total sense that a song like that would be overlooked in their renewal registrations and paperwork at the performing rights society.

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Who wrote it?

Page and Beck

If I remember well, in the same time they published a record with this song on; anyway I love the picture single 7".

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Beck's Bolero:

"I wrote it, arranged it and produced it and I don't give a damn what Jeff says"

-- Jimmy Page.

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Jimmy and Jeff Beck still like to argue about that song. As Jimmy has already been quoted, here's what Jeff Beck had to say about it in an interview as late as 2001:

'The real truth about that was that I had been commissioned to do an instrumental track for a solo project when Simon Napier Bell was the manager of the Yardbirds. I was causing trouble by being awkward and not turning up, because I wasn't happy with what was going on. So Simon said 'Give Jeff an instrumental cut. You and Jimmy Page go and write the track, or Jeff, you go over to Jimmy's and start another sideline project that will keep you happy.' So I went over to Jimmy's and he had this 12 string electric Fender, and he started strumming this pulsating E chord, like a bolero thing, in the A position. So it was a group effort, until we needed the melody. [...] That is my melody, the whole melody, and so is the bridge, where it all breaks down, all those riffs. I was the one that changed the key, and the way it resolves at the end, that was all me. In fact, the arrangement, the main melody, and pretty much the production was me. Jimmy came out with the ching-da-da-da-ding on the 12 string.' (The Guitar Magazine, March 2001)

I think they have fun arguing about that song. The late Rory Gallagher once said about the song, 'Jimmy Page thinks he wrote it, Jeff Beck thinks he did.....and so does Ravel'.

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I think they have fun arguing about that song. The late Rory Gallagher once said about the song, 'Jimmy Page thinks he wrote it, Jeff Beck thinks he did.....and so does Ravel'.

This sort of thing is why we may never see a confirmed Jimmy Page Sessionography.

Cloak and dagger stuff.

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Really it's not Ravel's Bolero note for note. The rhythm is the same and the melody was clearly inspired by it, but it's not the same.

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i've heard Jeff has ego issues so i tend to lean towards Jimmy on this one ... or maybe it was 50/50...sure is a good song haven't thought about it in years and now with this thread, took it out dusted it off and it still is a great song whomever wrote it! :)

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Here's a page that just has Jeff talking about the song.

From what I've seen, however, Jeff goes really back and forth on who wrote it. I've seen him say that just Jimmy wrote it, that they both wrote it, and that he did it by himself. I'll give him the benefit of the doubt and blame the car crash as opposed to him just being a bit of an ass.

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Jimmy and Jeff only ARRANGED the song, actually, It's a classical piece called "Bolero" by the composer Ravel.

No it isn't.

A bolero is a dance rhythm, like salsa is, or waltz, or polka.

Ravel wrote A bolero. There are many others. Ravel did not create the rhythm.

Beck's Bolero is one of these others.

Beck has changed his tune a few times about whether he wrote it or Jimmy. The interview 905 posted has him clearly admiting that Page was the main composer on the track. But there are other interviews where he claims more of an equal credit.

Edited by huw

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OK, my couple of cents: The joking remark I quoted earlier from Rory Gallagher should not be taken literally. ‘Beck’s Bolero’ is not an arrangement of Ravel’s famous Boléro: not only is the melody different (as has been pointed out already), - the key is also different, and the harmonies are different. So it is definitely an original piece. The song is still obviously inspired by Ravel and his construal of the bolero, but to criticize people for being influenced by others would be absurd; everybody is influenced by others. The bolero is a dance that originated in Spain back in the 18. century, and Ravel’s idea relies on that rhythm as huw already said. ‘Beck’s Bolero’ has that same rhythmic feel, except it’s slightly faster, but then again, there are rather fast versions of Ravel’s piece, and they might be pretty close in tempo (Ravel’s own idea was for his piece to be played rather slowly).

So, if we assume that Jimmy wrote ‘Beck’s Bolero’ (and it is in fact credited to him on the Jeff Beck Group’s album Truth), he certainly wasn’t stealing it from a classic composer. However there is a song that Jimmy, at least arguably, 'stole' from one of the classics. On the Death Wish II soundtrack you will find an instrumental track called ‘Prelude’ – ‘and not Quaalude’ as Jimmy joked back then – where a beautiful melody is played by Jimmy on the guitar, with a solid, slow rock beat, melancholic strings, etc. The title refers to Chopin’s Préludes, a series of 24 short pieces for piano, and in fact Page’s song is just an arrangement of the fourth prelude, in E-minor, largo. (There is a wonderful interpretation of the Préludes by Maurizio Pollini on Deutsche Grammophon).

Lastly, I don’t know why people see such a great contrast between what Jeff said in my quote and in 905’s. The tone of his reply is very different (and I should point out that the interviewer was really egging him on in the interview I quoted), but he’s saying substantially the exact same thing in both cases, namely, that Jimmy came up with the rhythm guitar for the main section of the song, and that he himself came up with just about everything else.

I should add that I’m not saying I think Jeff’s right. Let’s just have fun seeing these old friends keep arguing about a little song they worked on 40 years ago. :D

Edited by Otto Masson

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I'm a much bigger fan of Jeff Beck than I am of Page, but to be honest, it's gotten exhausting reading about Becks' bitching about Jimmy Page over the decades. There's this particular tune, then there's Page incorporating part of this bolero idea into "How Many More Times" which Beck has complained about bitterly........hell Beck was even bitching over Zeppelin doing "You Shook Me" on the first album way back when.

Enough already. Really........

Regards;

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OK, my couple of cents: The joking remark I quoted earlier from Rory Gallagher should not be taken literally. ‘Beck’s Bolero’ is not an arrangement of Ravel’s famous Boléro: not only is the melody different (as has been pointed out already), - the key is also different, and the harmonies are different. So it is definitely an original piece. The song is still obviously inspired by Ravel and his construal of the bolero, but to criticize people for being influenced by others would be absurd; everybody is influenced by others. The bolero is a dance that originated in Spain back in the 18. century, and Ravel’s idea relies on that rhythm as huw already said. ‘Beck’s Bolero’ has that same rhythmic feel, except it’s slightly faster, but then again, there are rather fast versions of Ravel’s piece, and they might be pretty close in tempo (Ravel’s own idea was for his piece to be played rather slowly).

So, if we assume that Jimmy wrote ‘Beck’s Bolero’ (and it is in fact credited to him on the Jeff Beck Group’s album Truth), he certainly wasn’t stealing it from a classic composer. However there is a song that Jimmy, at least arguably, 'stole' from one of the classics. On the Death Wish II soundtrack you will find an instrumental track called ‘Prelude’ – ‘and not Quaalude’ as Jimmy joked back then – where a beautiful melody is played by Jimmy on the guitar, with a solid, slow rock beat, melancholic strings, etc. The title refers to Chopin’s Préludes, a series of 24 short pieces for piano, and in fact Page’s song is just an arrangement of the fourth prelude, in E-minor, largo. (There is a wonderful interpretation of the Préludes by Maurizio Pollini on Deutsche Grammophon).

Lastly, I don’t know why people see such a great contrast between what Jeff said in my quote and in 905’s. The tone of his reply is very different (and I should point out that the interviewer was really egging him on in the interview I quoted), but he’s saying substantially the exact same thing in both cases, namely, that Jimmy came up with the rhythm guitar for the main section of the song, and that he himself came up with just about everything else.

I should add that I’m not saying I think Jeff’s right. Let’s just have fun seeing these old friends keep arguing about a little song they worked on 40 years ago. :D

My husband will love reading what you've written on Beck's Bolero! After Hendrix, Beck (and then Page) are his favorite musicians. My husband still listens to Beck's Bolero and he reminds me that Jimmy was involved in its creation. Thanks for providing some detail for us on that. :beer:

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