For the most part session men are a breed apart, but nevertheless an integral ingredient in the business of hits. Many legends and future stars got their start by adding their particular talent to other people’s recordings for a nominal ‘session fee’. Elton John (photographed, above, in 1968) tinkled the ivories for Tom Jones on his 1968 hit Delilah. Reg as he was known back then also made a healthy little living working on numerous ‘hit compilations’ in the late 60s and 70s. Chartbusters Risin’ from 1970 includes his version of Young Gifted and Black, while Pick of The Pops Vol.4 has Reg’s take on Mungo Jerry’s, In The Summertime.
In 1969 Rick Wakeman played the Mellotron on David Bowie’s ‘Space Oddity’ for a session fee of £9 which is around what Jimmy Page, before Led Zeppelin, got for playing on so many hits; so many that it’s tricky to list them all; some people have bizarrely credited Jimmy with playing on 50 to 90% of ALL the singles released over a couple of years in the 60s. That’s what happens when you become a legend. Some of the records he would be very proud of, like Joe Cocker’s With A Little Help From My Friends or The Who’s I Can’t Explain, not so perhaps Val Doonican’s Walk Tall. The brilliant bass player Herbie Flowers played on Clive Dunn’s Grandad (and he wrote it!) as well as Lou Reed’s Walk On The Wild Side. And there’s Peter Gabriel’s flute on Cat Steven’s Lady D’Arbanville, Tim Rice doing B/V’s on Scaffold’s Lily The Pink and Billy Joel played piano on the Shangri-La’s Leader of The Pack. Unfortunately in Billy’s case he didn’t get a session fee as he wasn’t a member of the union.