The Yardbirds

The Yardbirds with Eric Clapton.Eric Clapton, far right, joins the Yardbirds. Looking very prim and proper. From left: Keith Relf, Chris Dreja, Jim McCarty, Paul Samwell Smith and Clapton.

The Yardbirds, who gave us three legendary guitarists..and great music!

England’s most Blueswailing Yardbirds were one the most bands of the 60’s. They just seemed to keep coming up with new and different music and great new guitarists. Originally the Metropolitan Blues Quartet, with Keith Relf, (vocals, harmonica) Paul Samwell—Smith (bass) Chris Dreja, (rhythm guitar) and Tony “Top” Topham on lead guitar.

Topham stayed at art college, and Eric Clapton, from The Roosters joined, and Jim McCarty came along on drums.The name was changed to The Yardbirds and the had the residency at the Crawdaddy Club in 1963.

Giorgio Gomelsky got a deal with Columbia, and they put out “I Wish You Were Here”, which did nothing, then “Good Morning Little Schoolgirl”, a more commercial effort, which nearly made the Top 40.

A live show at the Crawdaddy, 1964.Five Live Yardbirds! An early show by the band. Clapton obviously enjoying the show!

Beck Joins The Yardbirds

This more commercial direction followed by Graham Gouldman’s very commercial song “For Your Love” was the reason behind Eric Clapton departing. Eric was determined to follow the pure blues path he so believed in, which he did by joining John Mayall.

“For Your Love” featuring Brian Auger’s harpsicord went to No. 2 on the British charts, ensuring the more commercial route the band would follow from then on. Leading session guitarist Jimmy Page was approached as a replacement for Eric, but declined, instead recommending an unknown young guitar player, Jeff Beck, who then joined.

Eric’s final contribution to the band was the album “Five Live Yardbirds” released later in ’64, a classic album.

This album was my first introduction to Clapton, bought for me by my girlfriend, (now my wife) for Christmas in 19whenever. I wore it out and had to buy another copy the next year.

From then on, the Yardbirds produced a series of commercial hits.

The new member Jeff beck, settles in nicely.Jeff Beck joins the Yardbirds. The new look band on British T.V.

“Heat Full Of Soul”, “Still I’m Sad” in’65, “Shapes of Things” and “ and “Over Under Sideways Down were both in ’66. The great “I’m a Man” was a U.S. hit in 1966, reaching number 17.

The album “Yardbirds” (AKA "Roger The Engineer” ) was released in 1966, and is the only studio album by this lineup

Paul Samwell-Smith left in July 66 to go into production, and Jim Page came in on bass. Then jeff Beck departed, Dreja moved to bass, Page lead, and this is the line-up I saw in Adelaide.

I actually bought tickets to The Yardbirds show, expecting to see jeff Beck on guitar. Even when I bought the programme and saw only four members, no Jeff, I just thought he must have been accidently cut off the snap.

Of course when I looked in the programme, there was this other guitarist called Jimmy page! Who was he? 



Needless to say, Jimmy put on quite a show that evening, and the next time I saw him was with Led Zeppelin.

Jeff Beck had departed to form the jeff Beck Group with Rod Stewart, Ronnie Wood and Mickey Waller. 

It was quite a moment when I first heard the Jeff beck Group on a Saturday morning, a radio show from England. They played "I'm Loosing You" later done on Rod Stewarts "Every Picture" album. I could not believe Rods voice, and how good the band was.

The Jeff Beck group greatly influenced Led Zeppelin, and it is hard to believe that for a while, it was a question of which would be the next big band, the Beck band or Led Zep, both featuring ex Yardbirds guitarists.

The Jeff Beck Group, formed after Jeff left The YardbirdsThe newly formed Jeff Beck Group. (L to R) Aynsley Dunbar, Jeff Beck, Rod Stewart and Ronnie Wood.

Jeff went through a few line up changes in his band, especially drummers. Some of these included Clem Cattini, Viv Prince, Aynsley Dunbar, then Mickey Waller. Mickey was the longest serving drummer, through '68 and '69.


I finally caught up with Jeff in his Adelaide concert in January 2009. His backing band featured Tai Wilkenfeld on stunning bass guitar, David Sancious, (ex E-Street Band) on keyboard, and Vinnie Colaiuta (Sting, Zappa, Joni Mitchell, etc.) on the drums.

Absolutely brilliant.


Jeff disbanded his Jeff Beck group after several lineup changes, and ventured into progressive jazz, blues and jazz fusion. He was rated as one of the greatest and most influential guitarists of all time, and I was so lucky to be able to see him in action.

The Yardbirds on Vinyl

The "Rodger the Engineer " album, featuring Jeff Beck.


The album “Yardbirds”, (“Roger The Engineer”) was released in the U.K. in July 1966, and America as “Ove Under Sideways Down”) and is the only studio album recorded by the Yardbirds.

It was produced by bassist Paul Samwell-Smith and manager Simon Napier-Bell.It is the only Yardbirds album to appear in the UK Albums Chart, where it reached number 20. In the US, it reached n umber 52 on the Billboard 200 album chart.nThe album's best-known song, "Over Under Sideways Down", was released as single in May 1966, two months before the album.


Five live Yardbirds

The first album released by The Yardbirds. It was recorded live at the Marque Club on the 20th March 1964, coming out in the UK some 9 months later. The album contains all U.S. R&B  numbers by American blues artists, as were being played by the Briish blues bands at the time, Animals, Rolling Stones and others.

The opening track, "To Much Monkey Business" is a cracking version, the rockiest track on the album. "Smokestack Lightning" is a classic version, "Good Morning Little Schoolgirl" features Eric and bassist Paul Samwell Smith on vocals, and the "Here Tis" track has classic interplay between Eric and Paul.

A great live album!

(Listen to the announcer muck up the closing announcement in his excitement!)

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And, "For your Love" the song that led to Claptons departure.