The Yardbirds

Formed amid the vibrant London blues scene of the early 1960s, The Yardbirds became a British rock institution doubling as graduation school for the country's leading guitarists, including Eric Clapton, Jeff Beck, and Jimmy Page. Inspired by Chicago blues stars Howlin' Wolf, Muddy Waters and Bo Diddley, they formed in South London in 1963 and quickly became the house band for the Crawdaddy Club in Richmond (taking over from The Rolling Stones). Led by Clapton, The Yardbirds made their first recordings as a backing band for Sonny Boy Williamson before finding huge success with the pop single “For Your Love,” which had been written by future 10cc member Graham Gouldman. Clapton left the group in 1965 in protest at the band's turn away from pure blues but his replacement, Jeff Beck, helped the group score major hits with “Heart Full Of Soul,” “Evil Hearted You,” and “Shapes Of Things,” which is now widely regarded as the first psychedelic song. Beck was sacked from the group in 1966 after numerous rows, after which Jimmy Page's fierce riffs and wah-wah pedal effects came to the fore on the album Little Games (1969). The band split in 1969 with Page going on to massive stardom with Led Zeppelin, but were reformed in 1992 by original members Chris Dreja and Jim McCarty and in 2003 they released Birdland, their first album in 35 years, which featured guest contributions from Slash, Brian May, Steve Vai, and Joey Satriani. Chris Deja left the band in 2013 leaving Jim McCarty the only original member in the line-up. Former Yardbird lead vocalist Keith Relf was electrocuted while playing guitar in his basement and died on May 12, 1976, at the age of 33. Jeff Beck died on January 10, 2023, of bacterial meningitis at the age of 78.

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Stations Featuring The Yardbirds

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