The Yardbirds

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The Yardbirds 2006
The Yardbirds 2006
General information
Genre (s) Rock , blues rock , psychedelic rock
founding 1962, 1992
resolution 1968, 2014
Founding members
Keith Relf († June 14, 1976)
Anthony "Top" Topham (until 1963)
Chris Dreja
Paul Samwell-Smith (until 1966)
Jim McCarty
Last occupation
Vocals, rhythm guitar
Top Topham (2013 to 2014)
Jim McCarty
Vocals, bass
John Idan (1994 to 2014) guitar
David Smale (2009 to 2014)
Vocals, lead guitar
Ben King (2004 to 2014)
former members
Lead guitar
Eric Clapton (1963-1965)
Lead guitar
Jeff Beck (1965, 1966)
Lead guitar
Jimmy Page (1966-1968)
Bass, harmonica
Rod Demick (1992-1994)
Laurie Garman (1994-1997)
Lead guitar, vocals
Ray Majors (1994-1996)
Lead guitar, vocals
Gypie Mayo (1996-2004) († October 23, 2013)
Alan Glen (2001-2003)
Billy Boy Miskimmin (2003 to 2008)

The Yardbirds were a British rock band . In the 1960s, the band had several single hits. Rock guitarists Eric Clapton , Jeff Beck and Jimmy Page were members of the Yardbirds early in their careers.

Band history

The group's first line- up consisted of Keith Relf , Anthony "Top" Topham , Chris Dreja , Paul Samwell-Smith and Jim McCarty . Topham was replaced by Eric Clapton after just a few months. The blues-oriented band had their first appearance in this composition on September 29, 1963 in London's Crawdaddy Club . On December 8, 1963, the band accompanied Sonny Boy Williamson II during a live recording by Horst Lippmann . Released as an album in 1966, these gigs were again held as part of the American Folk Blues Festival at the Crawdaddy Club and on February 28, 1964 at Birmingham Town Hall , England, during the first R&B Festival .

The first own album was recorded on October 3rd, 1963 in the Marquee Club and final mixed on October 18th, 1963 in the Olympic Studios . It appeared under the title Five Live Yardbirds in December 1964. In January 1964, the first recording sessions took place in the recording studio R. G. Jones Studios (Morden / Surrey), where the first single I Wish You Would / A Certain Girl was created and appeared in May 1964; it missed the British charts . Only her second single Good Morning, Little Schoolgirl was able to reach 44th place as the highest ranking. Both titles were cover versions of American blues songs. Under music producer Giorgio Gomelsky , the group decided in December 1964 for a composition by the still unknown British songwriter Graham Gouldman entitled For Your Love , which was arranged more commercially with its bongo rhythms and was created in the IBC studios by January 1965. It made it to number 3 in the British charts and - as part of the British Invasion - also to number 6 on the US charts. Over a million copies have been sold worldwide.

Since Eric Clapton didn't like this rather poppy course, he left the band in March 1965 and switched to John Mayall's Bluesbreakers . He was replaced by Jeff Beck . It was with him that the Yardbirds experienced their most commercially successful period. Beck's experimental guitar work fitted seamlessly into the group. With their novel sounds, the band made it into the hit parade several times , for example with Heart Full of Soul , Still I'm Sad / Evil Hearted You , Shapes of Things and Over, Under, Sideways, Down . The Yardbirds did pioneering work by being one of the first British bands to incorporate oriental-sounding tone sequences or the fuzz into their songs.

In June 1966 Paul Samwell-Smith left the band to work as a producer and was replaced by Jimmy Page, who initially played bass. With Jeff Beck and Jimmy Page on guitars, the Yardbirds had an appearance in the cult film Blow Up by Michelangelo Antonioni in 1966 with their piece Stroll On (premiere on December 18, 1966). Originally, Antonioni wanted to get The Who involved in the scene. But because they refused, he had the Yardbirds simply imitate The Who - including the destruction of guitars and amplifiers . In late 1966, the Yardbirds split from their guitarist due to tension between Jeff Beck and the rest of the band, and Jimmy Page took over the reins of the band.

The band's progressive, avant-garde style of music was at the expense of their commercial success, so that after several studio changes, EMI decided on a new music producer . The choice fell on the in England successful US producer Mickie Most , whose first studio recording for the Yardbirds took place on March 5, 1967 for the single Little Games . The album of the same name, released in July 1967, was a failure and could no longer build on previous successes. This also applied to the Harry Nilsson composition Ten Little Indians , published in October 1967 . The Yardbirds continued to tour successfully around the world, but stopped landing hits and broke up in July 1968.


Handprints of the yardbirds

Because the band still had contracts to perform on a Scandinavian tour, Jimmy Page gathered new musicians with Robert Plant , John Paul Jones and John Bonham and initially continued under the band name The New Yardbirds from September 1968, but then decided on Led Zeppelin as a name for the new rock formation. The idea for this name did not come from the members of the band themselves, but rather goes back to a statement by The Who drummer Keith Moon . Moon said a band around Jimmy Page would "crash like a leaden airship" ("The band will go over like a lead zeppelin").

In 1983 Jim McCarty, Paul Samwell-Smith and Chris Dreja gathered in the Box of Frogs formation .

In 1992 the Yardbirds were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame . In the same year the re-establishment took place.

In 2003 the album Birdland was released again under the name Yardbirds , on which Jim McCarty and Chris Dreja also participated from the founding members.

In the summer of 2008, shortly after the release of his solo album The Folly, John Idan announced that he would be leaving the band at the end of the year. Since the band could not find a replacement for him until May 2009, he played one last tour in Canada in February 2009. Now John Idan is touring with his band, the John Idan Group, or with the Topham-John Idan Blues Band .

On October 23, 2013, the former guitarist Gypie Mayo passed away after a long illness at the age of 62.

In July 2013, Chris Dreja left the band after suffering multiple strokes. He was replaced by Top Topham, who was the first guitarist to be a founding member of the band.

McCarty announced the breakup of the Yardbirds in December 2014.

The Rolling Stone listed the Yardbirds at number 89 of the 100 greatest musicians of all time .


The line-up changes in the Yardbirds are shown in chronological order below. Also included are the line-ups of the bands closely related to the Yardbirds, The New Yardbirds , Led Zeppelin and Box of Frogs .



Chart positions
Explanation of the data
For your love
  DE 20th 11/15/1965 (4 weeks)
  US 96 08/21/1965 (11 weeks)
Having a Rave Up with The Yardbirds
  US 53 02/12/1966 (33 weeks)
The Yardbirds
  UK 20th 07/23/1966 (8 weeks)
  US 155 10/31/1970 (6 weeks)
Over Under Sideways Down
  US 52 10/22/1966 (16 weeks)
Yardbirds Greatest Hits
  UK 28 06/17/1967 (37 weeks)
Little Games
  US 80 08/26/1967 (8 weeks)
  DE 67 05/05/2003 (1 week)
Good Morning Little Schoolgirl
  UK 44 11/14/1964 (4 weeks)
For your love
  UK 3 03/20/1965 (12 weeks)
  US 6th 07/03/1965 (12 weeks)
  DE 21st 08/01/1965 (7 weeks)
Heart full of soul
  UK 2 06/19/1965 (13 weeks)
  US 9 09/25/1965 (12 weeks)
  DE 22nd 09/15/1965 (7 weeks)
I'm a man
  US 17th December 11, 1965 (10 weeks)
Evil Hearted You / Still I'm Sad
  UK 3 10/16/1965 (10 weeks)
  DE 33 December 15, 1965 (4 weeks)
  DE 19th 01/01/1965 (9 weeks)
Shapes of Things
  UK 3 05.03.1966 (9 weeks)
  US 11 05/14/1966 (11 weeks)
  DE 22nd 05/01/1966 (9 weeks)
Over Under Sideways Down
  UK 10 06/04/1966 (9 weeks)
  US 13 08/13/1966 (11 weeks)
  DE 35 08/01/1966 (8 weeks)
Happenings Ten Years Time Ago
  UK 43 October 29, 1966 (5 weeks)
  US 30th December 31, 1966 (9 weeks)
Ha Ha Said the clown
  US 45 09/02/1967 (7 weeks)
Little Games
  US 51 05/20/1967 (6 weeks)
Ten Little Indians
  US 96 11/18/1967 (2 weeks)
album year Label Remarks
Five Live Yardbirds December 1964 Columbia Released in 1999 as a re-release by Repertoire Records with 8 bonus tracks
For your love July 1965 Epic only released in the USA (released in 1999 as a re-release by Repertoire Records with 13 bonus tracks)
Sonny Boy Williamson and the Yardbirds January 1966 Fontana Records Released in 1999 as a re-release with 7 bonus tracks by Repertoire Records
Having a rave up November 1965 Epic only released in the USA and Germany (released in 1999 as a re-release by Repertoire Records with 11 bonus tracks)
The Yardbirds July 1966 Columbia also known as Roger the Engineer , published in the USA and Germany on Epic under the title "Over Under Sideways Down" (released in 1998 as a re-release by Repertoire Records with 10 bonus tracks)
Little Games July 1967 Epic only released in the USA and Germany (released in 1991 as a re-release by EMI with 8 bonus titles)
Live yardbirds September 1971 Epic only released in the US, re-released on Living Legend Records (1988)
London 65-67 - The BBC Sessions 1997 New Millennium / EFA
The Complete BBC Sessions 1999 Abraxas / BBC
BBC sessions 1999 Repertoire Records
Birdland 2003 Favored Nations
Live at BB King Blues Club 2007 Favored Nations
Making tracks 2013 Favored Nations Not a real album, only released on DVD with live recordings from 2010 to 2012
Live at the BBC 2016 Repertoire Records


(In brackets: recording date and recording studio)

  • A Certain Girl / I Wish You Would (March 1964; Olympic Sound Studios )
  • Good Morning, Little Schoolgirl / I Ain't Got You (March / September 1964; Olympic Sound Studios)
  • For Your Love / Got To Hurry (December 1964 / January 1965; IBC Studios)
  • Heart Full of Soul / Steeled Blues (April 20, 1965; Advision Sound Studios)
  • I'm a Man / The Train Kept A-Rollin '(September 19, 1965; Chess Studios, Chicago)
  • Evil Hearted You / Still I'm Sad (July 27, 1965; IBC and Olympic Studios)
  • Shapes of Things / You're a Better Man Than I (December 21 and 22, 1965; Chess Studios, Chicago; January 7, 1966, Columbia Recording Studios, Hollywood / January 10, 1966; RCA Victor's Music Center Of The World, Hollywood)
  • Over, Under, Sideways Down / Jeff's Boogie (April 19 and 20, 1966; Advision Sound Studios)
  • Happenings Ten Years Time Ago / Psycho Daisies (September 20 and October 10, 1966; De Lane Lea Studios )
  • Little Games / Puzzles (March 5, 1967; Olympic Sound Studios)
  • Ha! Ha! Said the Clown / Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Sailor (June 13, 1967; Columbia Recording Studios, New York City; June 19, 1967, Abbey Road Studios )
  • Ten Little Indians / Drinking Muddy Water (September 25, 1967; Olympic Studios)
  • Goodnight, Sweet Josephine / Think About It (March 1968; De Lane Lea Studios )


  • Shaw, Greg: The Yardbirds . In: ders. (Ed.): The British are coming. From the childhood days of English rock music . From the American by Walle Bengs. Reinbek near Hamburg: Rowohlt, 1983, pp. 159–162.
  • Stambler, Irwin: The Encyclopedia Of Pop, Rock And Soul . 3rd Revised Edition, New York City, New York: St. Martin's Press, 1989, pp. 755-757, ISBN 0-312-02573-4 .
  • Morrison, Craig: American Popular Music. Rock and roll . Preface by Kevin J. Holm-Hudson. New York / NY: Checkmark Books, 2006, pp. 251-253.

Individual evidence

  1. ^ A b Greg Russo, Yardbirds: The Ultimate Rave-Up , 1997, p. 95.
  2. ^ Joseph Murrells, Million Selling Records , 1985, p. 215.
  3. Rock and Roll Hall of Fame The Yardbirds in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame
  4. Dr. Feelgood guitarist Gypie Mayo has died ( Memento of the original from October 27, 2013 in the Internet Archive ) Info: The archive link has been inserted automatically and has not yet been checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. , accessed October 25, 2013. @1@ 2Template: Webachiv / IABot /
  5. Vintage Guitar Magazine: Topham Replaces Dreja in Yardbirds
  6. Psychedelic Sight: Yardbirds disband after half century
  7. 100 Greatest Artists of All Time. Rolling Stone , December 2, 2010, accessed August 8, 2017 .
  8. Charts DE Charts UK Charts US

Web links

Commons : The Yardbirds  - Collection of images, videos and audio files