The Yardbirds introduced three of the most influential guitarists of that era: Eric Clapton, Jeff Beck and Jimmy Page. Their innovations — a revved-up instrumental attack, controlled use of feedback, distortion and fuzz; and live, improvisational jams they called “rave ups” — paved the way for psychedelic and progressive rock.
It was in 1964, when they stretched out from straight R&B rehash into extended, frantic guitar-harmonica instrumental passages. Calling these ad hoc jams “raveups,” The Yardbirds were basically making the blues their own by applying a fiercer, heavily amplified electric base.
The live 1964 album Five Live Yardbirds is the best document of their early years.
Here posing with a model in Mary Quan designed outfit.
The Yardbirds performed “Stroll On” in the last third of the film Blow Up. Director Antonioni first asked Eric Burdon to play that scene but he turned it down. As Keith Relf sings, Jimmy Page and Jeff Beck play to either side, along with Chris Dreja. After his guitar amplifier fails, Beck bashes his guitar to bits, as The Who did at the time. Antonioni had wanted The Who in Blowup as he was fascinated by Pete Townshend’s guitar-smashing routine. Steve Howe of The In Crowd recalled, “We went on the set and started preparing for that guitar-smashing scene in the club. They even went as far as making up a bunch of Gibson 175 replicas … and then we got dropped for The Yardbirds, who were a bigger name. That’s why you see Jeff Beck smashing my guitar rather than his!” Antonioni also considered using The Velvet Underground in the nightclub scene, but, according to guitarist Sterling Morrison, “the expense of bringing the whole entourage to England proved too much for him”.
“For Your Love” precipitated a major crisis in the band. Eric Clapton wanted to stick close to the blues, and for that matter didn’t like it barely playing on the record. Shortly afterward, around the beginning of 1965, he left the band. Clapton’s spot was first offered to Jimmy Page who turned it down. He did, however, recommend another guitarist, Jeff Beck,
Beck’s stint with the band lasted 18 months, but he did more to influence the sound of ’60s rock guitar than anyone except Jimi Hendrix.
Bound to America. The Yardbirds embarked on their first U.S. tour in late August 1965.
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