When you mention influential rock bands of the ’60s, you know the usual well-known names: The Beatles. The Beach Boys. The Rolling Stones. The Who. The Byrds. The Grateful Dead. All worthy candidates.
But there’s another band that arguably tops them all: The Yardbirds.
Casual rock music listeners will say, “Huh?” They might remember the 1965 pop hit, “For Your Love,” and some may recall the 1966 singles “Shapes of Things” and “Heart Full of Soul.” But that’s about it.
Some rock historians maintain that, when it comes to making a seismic impact on many dozens of artists and bands that followed in their wake, you can make a strong case that The Yardbirds win the contest hands down.
For the uninitiated, here’s the deal: The Yardbirds were born in 1963 as a blues-focused band out of London. Their first guitarist didn’t last and was soon replaced by 18-year-old Eric Clapton as the lead guitarist. By 1965, Clapton had moved on, and in his place, the group was steered by the great guitar pioneer Jeff Beck. In 1966, Beck overlapped with his eventual successor, veteran studio guitarist Jimmy Page.
That’s right: The three recognized kings of electric guitar and British rock/blues, who all ranked in the Top Five on Rolling Stone‘s Top 50 Guitarists of All Time, were all graduates of “Yardbirds University.”