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Tony Bacon: I've interviewed Jeff Beck a number of times, and we did this one in 2005 for my first book about Telecasters (Six Decades of the Fender Telecaster). Naturally enough, we concentrated on Jeff's use of Teles and Esquires, which predated his later moves to Les Pauls and, later still, to Strats.
"My rhythm guitarist [John Owen, in Beck's first proper band, The Deltones] actually had the first Fender.
He had a Telecaster, a few months before I could even afford a down payment to put on a Strat.
So I would ogle this thing. I spent more time playing it than he did! He put everything in motion to try and get me to get the Strat so I wouldn't keep nicking his guitar all the time. And eventually I ended up with that Tele.
When "Be-Bop-A-Lula" was first released, I was gone from that minute on. My schoolbook was plastered with Telecasters.
I didn't have a guitar when I joined the Yardbirds. I actually didn't have a guitar of my own, I was so hard up. The Yardbirds sort of sneaked Eric's guitar out. He'd finished using the red Tele and was using a Les Paul, so he didn't care a shit about the red Tele. Giorgio [Gomelsky], the manager, said well, 'You'd better use Eric's guitar—we can't afford to go out and buy one now.' So I borrowed Eric's for the first couple of gigs.
John Owen still had the Tele, as far as I know. Then, when I borrowed his Tele, I never gave it back. I think it was a late '59 or a '60, which he got in the Jennings shop [in Charing Cross Road, central London].
I had it in The Yardbirds. I had a Tele and an Esquire. The Tele that I got from John Owen somehow miraculously became Jimmy Page's, I don't know how. I left The Yardbirds in a huff—I just decided in a minute I was going to leave. So I didn't take the guitar, and Jimmy carried on playing, and because he was the only lead guitarist he had to mimic what I did. That's how come he got the guitar.
I've never actually explained that to John, which I must do one day. Jimmy plastered that Tele with psychedelic paint, he did floral painting all over it.
So the early Zeppelin stuff was on John Owen's Telecaster".
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