So who were The Yardbirds then?

  • The Yardbirds were one of the important bands in the 1960s London blues / pop / rock scene.
  • Early repertoire consisted of blues covers by the likes of Howlin' Wolf, Chuck Berry and Bo Diddley.
  • Numerous personnel changes mean there isn't a definitive Yardbirds line-up. However, Keith Relf (vocals), Chris Dreja (rhythm guitar, later bass), Jim McCarty (drums) and Paul Samwell-Smith (bass, until mid-66) formed the stable part of the band, initially with Top Topham on lead guitar.
  • Their first album, "Five Live Yardbirds" was recorded with Eric Clapton on lead guitar at London's Marquee Club.
  • Clapton left, not pleased with the pop direction of the band, just before the single "For Your Love" brought the Yardbirds fame both throughout the UK and internationally.
  • The second LP, known today as "Roger the Engineer" but originally as "The Yardbirds", featured Jeff Beck, the lead guitarist who was a member during their most successful period.
  • "Little Games", the third album, was not released in the United Kingdom, as popularity declined.
  • And the final LP was barely released at all, being a live set which pointed the way to Led Zeppelin, formed by Beck's replacement on lead, Jimmy Page. This album is currently only available on bootlegs.
  • A succession of not only lead guitarists, but also managers and producers, mean that their LP and CD discography is rather disjointed.
  • Since splitting in 1968, Topham, Clapton, Beck, Page, Relf and McCarty have enjoyed varying levels of recording success. Relf died in 1976 after being electrocuted at home. Samwell-Smith became a music industry producer (after some production experience with The Yardbirds), and Dreja a photographer.

The Yardbirds