Still Blues: Eric Clapton in The Yardbirds 1964

Young Eric Clapton during his time with English rock band The Yardbirds. The blues-based band formed in 1963 and 18-year-old Clapton took over for their lead guitarist in October of that year. The band began touring Britain with blues musician Sonny Boy Williamson. The Yardbirds had a string of hits in the mid-60’s such as their most well-known song “For Your Love.” The hit song is influenced by The Beatles and composed by Graham Gouldman, built around a four-chord progression.

Clapton, a blues purist who desired more than three-minute singles, had begun to disapprove of the pop and psychedelic rock sound the band had moved towards and ultimately quit The Yardbirds on March of 1965, right around the time “For Your Love” was released. When he walked out of the band, he did more than just change the path of his own career and some consider this moment one of the most monumental in rock history. The Yardbirds skyrocketed the career of three of rock’s most esteemed guitarists of all time, Jimmy Page, Jeff Beck, and Eric Clapton.

Clapton went on to experience a massively successful career and is the only three-time inductee to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, for his solo work and well as for his time in Cream and the Yardbirds. He began playing with John Mayall and the Bluesbreakers, but first suggesting young session guitarist Jimmy Page as his replacement. Page suggested Jeff Beck join The Yardbirds as well and soon played his first gig with the band only two days after Clapton’s departure. The Yardbirds are credited with pioneering psychedelic rock and early hard rock, as well as electric guitar innovations of the era, such as ‘fuzztone’ and distortion. Some music historians credit the band with the birth of psychedelic music and the early seeds of punk and progressive rock.


Devon Ebersold for Keeping the Blues Alive

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