May 17, 2010

Monday Music

Back in the very early 60’s, there was a little club located in the suburban London town of Richmond. Crawdaddy’s was the club that gave the Rolling Stones their start. In September of 1963, following the Stones’ departure, a new group ascended to the status of house band at the Crawdaddy Club. Originally known as Metropolitan Blues Quartet, the original four members later changed the group’s name to the Yardbirds.

This short-lived group spawned three of the greatest rock guitarists of all time; Eric Clapton, Jimmie Page and Jeff Beck.

The band’s early successes came from hits originally recorded by American blues artsts; Howlin Wolf’s Smokestack Lightning was one of those.

Then came Good Morning Little Schoolgirl, originally performed by “Sonny Boy” Williamson in 1937 and included in the Yardbirds’ first American released album, For Your Love.

The band did write some of their own songs, most of them penned by bassist Paul Samwell-Smith. One of those made the Billboard top 100 in 1964; Over Under Sideways Down.

Samwell-Smith was one of four founding members, along with singer/harmonica player Keith Relf, drummer Jim McCarty and rhythm guitarist/bassist Chris Dreja. These four constituted the core of the group through most of its existence while the big names came and went. Following the Jimmie Page days and his departure to form Led Zepplin, the group broke up. But in 1983 these four originals reunited to form yet another group: the almost unknown Box of Frogs. Of course they reprised some of the former Yardbirds hits.

The Yardbirds were more responsible than most of the other early 60’s groups for getting me hooked on Rock & Roll. They also produced some of the greatest musicians of the era, and certainly some of the best music. I’ll leave you with this one, from the Jeff Beck days.