The Yardbirds were an English rock band formed in London in 1963. The group launched the careers of guitarists Eric Clapton, Jimmy Page and Jeff Beck. A blues-based band that broadened its range into pop and rock, the Yardbirds contributed to many electric guitar innovations of the mid-1960s, such as feedback, “fuzztone” distortion and improved amplification.
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They were the crucial link between British Rhythm and Blues and psychedelia; they set the framework for heavy metal explored further by Led Zeppelin and the guitarists they spawned were extremely influential in music.
They had a string of hits during the mid-1960s, including “For Your Love”, “Heart Full of Soul” and “Over Under Sideways Down”. After the Yardbirds broke up in 1968, lead guitarist Jimmy Page founded what became Led Zeppelin, while vocalist and harmonica player Keith Relf and drummer Jim McCarty formed the symphonic rock group Renaissance.
The bulk of the band’s most successful self-written songs came from Relf, McCarty and bassist and producer Paul Samwell-Smith, who, with rhythm guitarist and bassist Chris Dreja, constituted the core of the group. The band reformed in the 1990s, featuring McCarty, Dreja and new members. The Yardbirds were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1992. They were included in Rolling Stone’s list of the “100 Greatest Artists of All Time”, and VH1’s “100 Greatest Artists of Hard Rock”