In September of 1963, the Yardbirds began playing music. The original guitarist named Anthony Top Topham was replaced by Eric Clapton in October 1963. With Eric Clapton, the Yardbirds made their first album live called Five Live Yardbirds. They made two singles called “I Wish You Would” and “Good Morning, Little Schoolgirl”. They had their first hit with their third single called “For Your Love.” The song got a gold disc for selling over one million copies, but Clapton left the music group because he was a blues purist, and the song was straying away from their blues roots.
Eric Clapton left in 1965 and recommended that a successful studio guitarist named Jimmy Paige replace him. However, Jimmy Paige did not want to give up his lucrative job and was worried about his health, so he recommended Jeff Beck instead. Jeff Beck started playing with Yardbirds two days after Eric Clapton left the music group.
Jeff Beck and Yardbirds began to experiment with more unique styles such as fuzz tones and Gregorian chants. The Yardbirds started to become less popular, but Jeff Beck was rated the best guitarist in 1966. Jeff Beck made a number of memorable songs with the Yardbirds such as “Heart Full of Soul”, “I’m a Man”, “Shapes of Things” and the Yardbirds album. They had several tours, too. They also participated in the San Remo music festival.
In June 1966, Jimmy Paige joined Yardbirds and Jeff Beck and Jimmy Paige made a couple of songs together such as “Happenings Ten Years Ago” and “Psycho Daisies”. They also made a song called “Stroll On” for the movie, Blow Up. At the end of the song Jeff Beck smashed a cheap guitar.
The Yardbirds made few other songs with both Jeff Beck and Jimmy Paige on guitar except for a song they made for of all things a milk shake commercial called “Great Shakes” using the opening riff of “Over, Under, Sideways, Down.” Jimmy Paige and Jeff Beck made a song called Beck’s Bolero that was released on Jeff Beck’s first album called Truth.
Jeff Beck was fired for not showing up, being a perfectionist and having an explosive temper. Jimmy Paige became the new lead guitarist while using a cello bow and a wah wah pedal. Shortly after Jeff Beck left, Yardbirds sank into obscurity.
In 1967, Yardbirds did a lot of touring with experimentation, focusing on songs they had made with Jeff Beck, instead of their newer songs, and cover songs. One of their covers called Dazed and Confused was so successful that Jimmy Paige made a version for the first Led Zeppelin album. By 1968, most of the other band members wanted to make classical folk rock while Jimmy Paige, who was influenced by Cream and Jimi Hendrix, wanted to stick with a heavier sound. Most of the band members left with pretty much only Jimmy Paige left in the group.
They did a final tour, made a live album that would later be called Live Yardbirds: Featuring Jimmy Paige and had their final concert at Luton College of Technology in Bedfordshire England.
Jimmy Paige got new members for the band, a vocalist, who was at that time unknown, named Robert Plant and a childhood friend of Robert Plant’s named Jeff Bonham for drums. They remained the Yardbirds until as late as October of 1968.
Jimmy Paige continued to play several songs by the Yardbirds, but had the band name changed to… Led Zeppelin for one of two different reasons. Either it was because another band member named Dreja, who was no longer in the original group, had claimed the band name for his own or it was because Jimmy Paige wanted to wipe the slate clean and start over again. Whatever reason Jimmy Paige had, the Yardbirds became Led Zeppelin.
The Yardbirds were inducted into the Rock and Roll Music Hall of Fame in 1993. Both Jimmy Paige and Jeff Beck attended the ceremony, but Eric Clapton was unable to make it because he was busy working on the MTV Unplugged TV series. Eric Clapton would later be inducted two more times into the Rock and Roll Music Hall of Fame, though, with Cream and his solo career.
The Yardbirds are not remembered by many people but were probably one of the most influential music groups ever by giving us the start of Eric Clapton, Jeff Beck, Jimmy Paige and Led Zeppelin.