Steve Kline Ages of Rock
1966: The Yardbirds arrive in New York to kick off their first American tour. Jeff Beck leaves after playing two dates, leaving Jimmy Page to take over lead guitar.
The Yardbirds are an English rock band, noted for starting the careers of three of rock’s most famous guitarists: Eric Clapton, Jeff Beck and Jimmy Page. A blues-based band whose sound evolves into experimental rock, they will have a string of hits including For Your Love; Over, Under, Sideways, Down; and Heart Full Of Soul. They are a crucial link between British R&B and psychedelia.
The Yardbirds are pioneers in almost every guitar innovation of the ’60s: fuzz tone, feedback, distortion, backwards echo, improved amplification. They are one of the first to put an emphasis on complex lead guitar parts and experimentation.
The bulk of the band’s conceptual ideas, as well as their songwriting, come from the quartet of singer/harmonica player Keith Relf, drummer Jim McCarty, rhythm guitarist/bassist Chris Dreja, and bassist/producer Paul Samwell-Smith, all of whom co-write the Yardbirds’ original hits and constitute the core of the group. The band’s musical foundation will also lay the groundwork for the formation of the 1970s rock band Led Zeppelin.