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The Yardbirds

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The Yardbirds Biography

The Yardbirds remain one of the most legendary and influential groups of the sixties.  The band was responsible for hit records such as Still I’m Sad, Shapes Of Things, Heart full Of Soul and For Your Love, not to mention the classic albums Five Live Yardbirds and Roger The Engineer.  The Yardbirds are also remembered for the three guitarists who graced the band between the years 1963 and 1968. Eric Clapton followed by Jeff Beck and Jimmy Page, all recorded and performed their guitar magic with this band.

Founded in Surrey in 1963 by Paul Samwell-Smith, Chris Dreja, Keith Relf, Jim McCarty and Anthony “Top” Topham, the band soon moved beyond their early primitive efforts.  Anthony Topham was replaced by Eric Clapton shortly after the band took the place of The Rolling Stones at the famous R&B club the Crawdaddy The Yardbirds became the backing band for visiting blues musicians, including Sonny Boy Williamson, with whom they cut their first record.

The best representation of the band at this period was the live album Five Live Yardbirds released in 1964. Despite the band’s love of R&B, they were pressured into a more pop direction, which horrified the purist Eric Clapton. Shortly after recording the first hit single For Your Love in 1965, Eric left to be replaced by Jeff Beck, the second in the triumvirate of great guitarists to join. Jeff was to stay with the band for less than two years but in that time he established his reputation on which he continues to build today.  Jeff almost single-handedly changed the way guitar-led rock music was viewed.

Jimmy Page, the third of the famous guitarists to grace The Yardbirds, entered the picture when Paul Samwell-Smith left.  Jimmy initially joined as the bassist, but he soon swapped duties with Chris Dreja and for a short while formed a twin guitar line up with Jeff Beck. When Jeff left in 1967, Jimmy became the band’s lone guitarist and was to remain so until The Yardbirds folded in 1968.

Despite the regard in which the band was held, commercial success eluded them.  Jimmy Page decided to carry on as The New Yardbirds and he duly formed a band around himself, which shortly after changed name to become Led Zeppelin!

The Yardbirds re-formed in the nineties and continue to tour, led by founder members, Jim McCarty and Chris Dreja.


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