The Yardbirds were an English rock band that was initially active from 1963 to 1968. Sprung from the R&B/beat boom, they issued a string of singles noted for sonic innovations like harpsichord riffing (“For Your Love”), sitar-guitar tones (“Heart Full of Soul”), and explosive reverb effects (“Happenings Ten Years Time Ago”). They served as the launch pad for three of rock’s most lionized guitarists: Eric Clapton, Jeff Beck, and Jimmy Page.

Members: Jim McCarty (drums, vocals), Chris Dreja (rhythm guitar, bass, vocals, 1963-68, 1992-2013), Keith Relf (lead vocals, harmonica, percussion 1963-68), Anthony “Top” Topham (guitar, 1963, 2013-15), Paul Samwell-Smith (bass, vocals, 1963-66), Eric Clapton (lead guitar, 1963-65), Jeff Beck (lead guitar, vocals, 1965-66), Jimmy Page (bass, lead guitar, 1966-68)


The Yardbirds spawned from The Metropolis Blues Quartet, a south-west London band that featured singer/harmonica player Keith Relf and drummer Jim McCarty. In 1963, they teamed with bassist Paul Samwell-Smith, rhythm guitarist Chris Dreja, and guitarist Top Topham. The new band initially gigged that summer as the Blue-Sounds before adopting the name Yardbirds, either from novelist Jack Kerouac (On the Road, 1957) or the alternate nickname of saxophonist Charlie “Bird” Parker.

After one month, Topham cleared way for guitarist Eric Clapton, who’d co-slung in beatsters The Roosters with a pre-Manfred Mann Tom McGuinness. (Topham surfaced later in psychsters The Fox and the Christine Perfect Band.)

The Yarbirds became the house band at blues haunt the Crawdaddy Club in Richmond, Surrey, where they assumed the honors from a now-rising Rolling Stones. They were taken under the managerial wing of the club’s owner, Giorgio Gomelsky, who secured them a backing slot on a UK tour by American bluesman Sonny Boy Williamson II. (Recordings of this union were issued two years later on the Fontana release Sonny Boy Williamson and the Yardbirds.) In light of this exposure, EMI/Columbia signed the band in February 1964.

“I Wish You Would”, “Good Morning Little Schoolgirl”

On May 1, 1964, Columbia issued the Yardbirds’ debut single, “I Wish You Would,” their cover of a 1965 song by Chicago bluesman Billy Boy Arnold. The b-side is a cover of “A Certain Girl,” a 1961 R&B song by New Orleans musician Allen Toussaint. In August, the single appeared stateside on Epic. Gomelsky produced this single at Olympic, London, under the appelation ‘R&B Associates.’

On October 30, 1964, the Yardbirds released their second single “Good Morning Little Schoolgirl,” their cover of a Depression-era blues standard first recorded in 1937 by Chicago bluesman Sonny Boy Williamson I. The b-side, “I Ain’t Got You,” is a song by American record producer Calvin Carter; first recorded in 1955 by Boy Arnold and Jimmy Reed. Gomelsky, under his real name, produced this and the next four Yardbirds singles.

The Yardbirds’ “Good Morning Little Schoolgirl” reached No. 44 on the UK Singles Chart.

Five Live Yardbirds

The Yardbirds released their live debut UK album, Five Live Yardbirds, on December 4, 1964, on Columbia. It consists of ten numbers (42:11) taped on March 20, 1964, at London’s Marquee Club and produced by manager Giorgio Gomelsky.

1. “Too Much Monkey Business” Chuck Berry 3:51
2. “I Got Love If You Want It” James Moore a.k.a. Slim Harpo 2:40
3. “Smokestack Lightnin'” Howlin’ Wolf 5:35
4. “Good Morning Little Schoolgirl” Don Level, Bob Love[a] 2:42
5. “Respectable” O’Kelly Isley, Ronald Isley, Rudolph Isley 5:35
1. “Five Long Years” Eddie Boyd 5:18
2. “Pretty Girl” Ellas McDaniel a.k.a. Bo Diddley 3:04
3. “Louise” John Lee Hooker 3:43
4. “I’m a Man” McDaniel 4:33
5. “Here ‘Tis” McDaniel 5:10


“For Your Love”

On March 5, 1965, the Yardbirds released their third single “For Your Love,” a Graham Gouldman composition backed with “Got to Hurry,” a song Gomelsky wrote under the pseudonym Oscar Rasputin.

In the UK, “For Your Love” reached No. 1 on the NME chart and No. 3 on Record Retailer, the nation’s official single’s chart. The single also charted in Sweden (No. 5), Ireland (No. 10), and Italy (No. 14). In North America, “For Your Love” hit No. 1 in Canada and reached No. 6 on the Cashbox and Billboard charts.

The Yardbirds mimed “For Your Love” on the March 18, 1965, episode of the BBC music show Top of the Pops, which aired the song amid current hits by Petula Clark (“I Know a Place”), The Pretty Things (“Honey I Need”),The Rolling Stones (“The Last Time”), and Unit 4 + 2 (“Concrete and Clay”).

Fleetwood Mac cover “For Your Love” on their 1973 release Mystery to Me.

“Heart Full of Soul”

On June 4, 1965, the Yardbirds released their fourth single “Heart Full of Soul,” their second of three Gouldman-penned sides, backed with the Beck–Relf original “Steeled Blues.”

The Yardbirds cut both sides in April 1965 at London’s Advision Studios. Gomelsky produced the single in succession with titles by The Ingoes (later the Blossom Toes), The T-Bones (with a young Keith Emerson), Julie Driscoll, and Brian Auger & Trinity.

“Heart Full of Soul” reached No. 2 in the UK and Canada and No. 10 in Norway. The Yardbirds mimed it on the June 24 broadcast of TotP, which re-aired it for the next three weeks amid hits by The Animals (“We’ve Gotta Get Out of This Place”), Dusty Springfield (“In the Middle of Nowhere”), The Hollies (“I’m Alive”), Manfred Mann (“The One in the Middle”), and The Moody Blues (“From the Bottom of My Heart”).

The Yardbirds performed “Heart Full of Soul” for the ITV music show Ready Steady Go!, where they appeared on the June 4 show with fellow guests The Kinks, who performed their current hit “See My Friends.”

In the US, “Heart Full of Soul” appeared on July 2 (three days before their debut American album, which excludes the song) and reached No. 9 on the Billboard Hot 100. This preceded their first US tour, which began on August 30 and included five television appearances, including the Sept. 3 broadcast of the ABC music program Shindig!, which aired performances of “For Your Love” and “Heart Full of Soul” amid numbers by Billy Preston and routines by actress Raquel Welch.

For Your Love

The Yardbirds released their first American album, For Your Love, on July 5, 1965, on Epic.

1. “For Your Love” Graham Gouldman Eric Clapton, 1/2/65 2:28
2. “I’m Not Talking” Mose Allison Jeff Beck, 13/4/65 2:31
3. “Putty (In Your Hands)” Kay Rogers, John Patton Clapton, 11/64 2:11
4. “I Ain’t Got You” Calvin Carter Clapton, 19/9/64 1:59
5. “Got to Hurry” (take 3) Oscar Rasputin a.k.a. Giorgio Gomelsky[c] Clapton, 6/8/64 2:34
6. “I Ain’t Done Wrong” Keith Relf Beck, 15/3/65 3:37
1. “I Wish You Would” Billy Boy Arnold Clapton, 3/64 2:18
2. “A Certain Girl” Naomi Neville a.k.a. Allen Toussaint Clapton, 3/64 2:16
3. “Sweet Music” (stereo, take 3) Major Lance, Otis Leavill Cobb, Walter Bowie Uncertain, 11/64 2:29
4. “Good Morning Little Schoolgirl” H.G. Demarais[d] Clapton, 8–9/64 2:52
5. “My Girl Sloopy” Bert Russell, Wes Farrell Beck, 13/4/65 5:36

Recorded March 1964 – April 1965
Studio Olympic, IBC, & Advision; London
Producer Giorgio Gomelsky

Five Yardbirds

On August 6, 1965, Columbia issued Five Yardbirds, a three-song EP with their version of “My Girl Sloopy,” a song co-written by American pop composer Bert Berns (“Twist and Shout,” “Piece of My Heart,” “Here Comes the Night”) and record producer Wes Farrell, who also collaborated with Berns on “Baby Let Me Take You Home,” the debut Animals single.

“My Girl Sloopy” was first recorded in 1964 by the American soul group The Vibrations, whose version caught the ear of Clapton, who introduced it to the Yardbirds set but exited before their studio session. They recorded their own version immediately after Beck joined the group. (Meanwhile, a version titled “Hang On Sloopy” by American pop rockers The McCoys appeared the same month as Five Yardbirds and reached No. 1 that fall on the US Billboard Hot 100.)

Five Yardbirds also includes the Relf original “I Ain’t Done Wrong” and a cover of “I’m Not Talking” by American blues and jazz pianist Mose Allison.

“Evil Hearted You”

On October 1, 1965, the Yardbirds released their fifth single “Evil Hearted You,” their third and final Gouldman-penned recording, backed with the McCartney–Samwell-Smith original “Still I’m Sad.”

“Evil Hearted You” reached No. 3 on the UK Record Retailer chart and became a double a-sided hit with “Still I’m Sad.” On the NME chart, the two songs reached respective peaks of No. 10 and No. 9.

The Yardbirds mimed “Evil Hearted You” on the October 21 broadcast of TotP, which aired the song between hits by English MOR singer Mat Monroe (his cover of the Beatles “Yesterday”) and the American duo Dick & Deedee (“Use What You’ve Got”).

Having a Rave Up With the Yardbirds

The Yardbirds released their second American album, Having a Rave Up With the Yardbirds, on November 15, 1965, on Epic. Side A contains six spring–summer ’65 studio cuts recorded with Jeff Beck. Side B contains four numbers from the March 1964 show documented on Five Live Yardbirds.

Side 1 (1965 studio with Beck)
1. “You’re a Better Man Than I” Mike Hugg 3:17
2. “Evil Hearted You” Graham Gouldman 2:24
3. “I’m a Man” Ellas McDaniel a.k.a. Bo Diddley 2:37
4. “Still I’m Sad” Paul Samwell-Smith, Jim McCarty 2:57
5. “Heart Full of Soul” Gouldman 2:28
6. “The Train Kept A-Rollin'” not listed (“In Manuscript” is included under “Publishers”) 3:26
Side 2 (1964 live with Clapton)No. Title Writer(s) Length
1. “Smokestack Lightning” Chester Burnett a.k.a. Howlin’ Wolf 5:35
2. “Respectable” O’Kelly Isley, Ronald Isley, Rudolph Isley 5:28
3. “I’m a Man” McDaniel 4:24
4. “Here ‘Tis” McDaniel 5:04

Epic lifted “I’m a Man” as the Yardbirds fourth US single (b/w “Still I’m Sad”). It reached No. 17 on the Billboard Hot 100. The single also appeared in Italy on Ricordi International with a picture sleeve of the band in hats and overcoats. In Germany, “I’m a Man” appeared on Epic with “The Train Kept A-Rollin” as the b-side.

The Who cut a slower, bluesier version of “I’m a Man” (in A) for their first album: the December 1965 Brunswick release My Generation.


“Shapes of Things”

On February 25, 1966, the Yardbirds released their sixth single “Shapes of Things,” a group original by McCarty, Relf, and Samwell-Smith. The b-side, “You’re a Better Man Than I,” is a song by Brian Hugg and his brother: Manfred Mann drummer Mike Hugg.

“Shapes of Things” reached No. 3 on the UK Singles Chart, No. 7 in Canada, and No. 10 on the US Cashbox Top 100 (No. 11 on Billboard). The Yardbirds mimed it on the March 10 broadcast of TotP, which aired it amid numbers by The Kinks (“Dedicated Follower of Fashion”), Lou Christie (“Lightning Strikes”), Small Faces (“Sha La La La Lee”), and The Walker Brothers (“The Sun Ain’t Gonna Shine Anymore ”).

Beck later re-recorded “Shapes of Things” with a radically revised arrangement. David Bowie does a faithful version on his 1973 release Pinups, an album of Beat-era covers. Gary Moore covers the song on his 1984 album Victims of the Future.

The Yardbirds cut both sides during their winter 1965–66 US tour. Sessions first took place at Chicagp;s Chess Studios and resumed in Los Angeles at Columbia and RCA Studios. These were their last sessions with Gomelsky, who launched the soul-psych label Marmalade for releases by Julia Driscoll, Trinity, and the Blossom Toes, who became key players in Swinging London’s psych scene with their 1967 release We Are Ever So Clean.

Multiple acts recorded “You’re a Better Man Than I” in 1966, including the American garage-rock bands The Cynics, New Colony Six, The Sons of Adam, and Terry Knight & the Pack. The Cynics single features a revved-up, fuzzed-out version of “Train Kept A-Rollin'” on the b-side. (The Cynics, a Tex-Mex band from Fort Worth, morphed into Musical Training School for the 1967 Kinks cover “Don’t You Fret,” backed with “I’ll Go,” one of the earliest recordings of a T. Bone Burnett composition.)

Manfred Mann didn’t cut their own version of the song but Mike Hugg, who wrote many of the group’s b-sides, did recorded it in his next band with keyboardist Mann: Manfred Mann Chapter Three.

“Over Under Sideways Down”

On May 27, 1966, the Yardbirds released their seventh single “Over Under Sideways Down,” backed with the instrumental “Jeff’s Boogie,” both group-credited numbers.

Sessions took place on April 19–20 at Advision with producer by Simon Napier-Bell, a soundman for Dusty Springfield and John’s Children. Between the recording and release date of this single, Beck cut a solo track, “Beck’s Bolero,” an instrumental based on Maurice Ravel’s Boléro with backing by Jimmy Page, Who drummer Keith Moon, and sessionists John Paul Jones (bass) and Nicky Hopkins (piano).

“Over Under Sideways Down” reached No. 10 on the UK Singles Chart and No. 13 on the Billboard Hot 100. The Yardbirds mimed it on the June 9 broadcast of TotP, which aired it amid current hits by The Animals (“Don’t Bring Me Down”), The Beatles (“Rain,” “Paperback Writer”), and The Kinks (“Sunny Afternoon”). The last three re-aired with “Over Under” on the following week’s broadcast (6/16), along with a new Hollies hit, “Bus Stop,” their second of two Gouldman-penned singles.

Yardbirds [aka Roger the Engineer]

The Yardbirds released their only UK studio album, Yardbirds, on July 15, 1966, on Columbia. The album gained the colloquial title Roger the Engineer due to the name scrawled next to the line-art character on the cover. This became the official title on later reissues.

In the US, the album appeared on Epic as a ten-song set titled Over Under Sideways Down. This version omits two tracks (“The Nazz Are Blue,” “Rack My Mind”) and contains different mixes of several numbers.

1. “Lost Woman” 3:16
2. “Over Under Sideways Down” (Rechanneled) 2:24
3. “The Nazz Are Blue” 3:04
4. “I Can’t Make Your Way” 2:26
5. “Rack My Mind” 3:15
6. “Farewell” 1:29
7. “Hot House of Omagararshid” 2:39
8. “Jeff’s Boogie” (Rechanneled) 2:25
9. “He’s Always There” 2:15
10. “Turn into Earth” 3:06
11. “What Do You Want” 3:22
12. “Ever Since the World Began” 2:09

Recorded April–June 1966
Studio Advision, London
Producer Simon Napier-Bell Paul Samwell-Smith

“Happenings Ten Years Time Ago”

On October 7, 1966, the Yardbirds released their eighth single “Happenings Ten Years Time Ago,” a psychedelic rocker backed with “Psycho Daisies.” Napier-Bell produced the two group-credited originals between July and October at IBC and De Lane Lea studios. This, their first release with Jimmy Page in the lineup, is the only Beck–Page Yardbirds studio recording.

The Yardbirds mimed “Happenings Ten Years Time Ago” on the November 17 broadcast of TotP, which slotted them between numbers by Ike & Tina Turner (“A Love Like Yours”) and the Spencer Davis Group (“Gimme Some Loving”).

That month, Epic issued “Happenings Ten Years Time Ago” as the Yardbirds’ seventh US single, backed with “The Nazz Are Blue,” one of two Roger songs withheld from Over Under Sideways Down. The title inspired Nazz, a Philly psych-rock band headed by Todd Rundgren.


“Little Games”

On April 21, 1967, the Yardbirds released their ninth single “Little Games,” a song by writer–producers Phil Wainman (once of beatsters The Hi-Grades) and Harold Spiro. The b-side, “Puzzles,” is group-credited to the current four-piece lineup (Relf, Dreja, McCarty, Page).

This was their final UK release. Epic issued the single three weeks earlier in the US, where it reached the middle Hot 100.

Little Games

The Yardbirds released their second proper studio album, Little Games, in July 1967 on Epic. It was their fourth American album and did not appear in the UK.

1. “Little Games” Harold Spiro, Phil Wainman 2:25
2. “Smile on Me” Chris Dreja, Jim McCarty, Jimmy Page, Keith Relf 3:16
3. “White Summer” Page 3:56
4. “Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Sailor” Page, McCarty 2:49
5. “Glimpses” Dreja, McCarty, Page, Relf 4:24
1. “Drinking Muddy Water” (2:53) is an adaptation of the blues standard “Rollin’ and Tumblin’,” first recorded in 1929 by Delta bluesman Hambone Willie Newbern. The Yardbirds retitled the song to honor the popular 1950 version by Chicago bluesman Muddy Waters.
2. “No Excess Baggage” Roger Atkins, Carl D’Errico 2:32
3. “Stealing Stealing” Dreja, McCarty, Page, Relf[17] 2:42
4. “Only the Black Rose” Relf 2:52
5. “Little Soldier Boy” McCarty, Page, Relf 2:39

Recorded 5 March 1967, 29 April – 1 May 1967
Studio Olympic & De Lane Lea, London
Producer Mickie Most

“Ha Ha Said the Clown”

On July 17, 1967, Epic issued the ninth US Yardbirds single: “Ha Ha Said the Clown” a Manfred Mann cover backed with the Little Games track “Tinker Tailor Soldier Sailor.”

“Ha Ha Said the Clown” is the first of two songs that Manfred Mann recorded by Liverpudlian singer–songwriter Tony Hazzard. They released their version as a single four month before the Yardbirds’ near-identical rendition.

“Ten Little Indians”

On October 16, 1967, Epic issued the tenth US Yardbirds single: “Ten Little Indians,” a Harry Nilsson cover backed with the Little Games track “Drinking Muddy Water.”

Nilsson recorded his version of “Ten Little Indians” for his second album Pandemonium Shadow Show, which appeared weeks after the Yardbirds cover version.

“Goodnight Sweet Josephine”

On April 1, 1968, Epic issued the eleventh US Yardbirds single: “Goodnight Sweet Josephine,” another Hazzard composition, backed with the Page original “Think About It.”

A UK release of the single was slated for March 1 (cat. #DB 8368) but Columbia nixed this plan. “Goodnight Sweet Josephine” became the final Yardbirds release.


  • Five Live Yardbirds (1964)
  • For Your Love (1965)
  • Having a Rave Up With the Yardbirds (1965)
  • Yardbirds [aka Roger the Engineer] (1966)
  • Little Games (1967)


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