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The Yardbirds

 

Gordon L. Linden, 2002

Rare Photo Published

Prolific rock writer Alan Clayson, author of bios on George Harrison, the Troggs and others, has done it again with his new book, The Yardbirds - the Band That Launched Eric Clapton, Jeff Beck and Jimmy Page. The book chronicles the British band's rise and evolution, including in its ranks some of the most influential rock guitarists of all time.

Featured in the book is an extremely rare photo taken at the Fillmore Auditorium in San Francisco on October 23, 1966 by Gordon Linden which shows, on stage, the lineup of Jeff Beck and Jimmy Page. The book was published by Backbeat Books and is available through Amazon.com.

A narrative of the concert and the impressions of several people who witnessed it was also recently published in a book entitled "Jeff's Book, A Chronology of Jeff Beck's Career, 1965-1980 – From the Yardbirds to Jazz-Rock" written by Christopher Hjort and Doug Hinman. Rock n' Roll Research Press, 2000

"SUN 23RD 1966

Fillmore Auditorium, San Francisco, California

Billed as'One Sunday Afternoon' (2 to 7 pm) and presented by promoter Bill Graham, the Yardbirds play the Fillmore supported by Country Joe & the Fish. This is perhaps the penultimate Yardbirds concert with Jeff Beck and by all accounts their performance is an impressive one in a city with a blossoming music scene of its own and a reasonably high standard of expectations for visiting performers.

In the somewhat trippy style of the day, reviewer Ed Denson gives an interesting impressionistic account of the show (BERKELEY BARB, October 28):

'Eleven amplifiers, eleven amplifiers, the Yardbirds have 11 amplifiers, Jesus Christ — the words seemed to spring from the air in the Fillmore last Sunday as the other groups on the afternoon show waited for the Yardbirds, the stars, and the amplifiers, and their equipment to arrive. Standel advertises that 10 of theirs have the power to kill anyone standing in front of them ... [The Yardbirds'] first note reveals the meaning of the eleven amplifiers. The guitar has a power, a fullness of tone, a depth that has not been often heard outside a recording studio. The sound moves out of the three amplifiers and possesses you, driving the normal impulses out of your nervous system and replacing them with music. But not a music that you've ever heard before. It has the textures and rhythms of Chicago blues, like almost all rock now, but as they play the bass player turns his body so that his instrument is facing the 27 square feet of amplifier and speakers that stand behind him, taller than he, and the feedback tones fill the room with a sound more powerful than anything before it, and touching more on what is happening, and then the lead guitarist goes into an incredible distorted nm with notes and feedback blending into a beautiful new sound ... No other group has been as close to it as the Yardbirds —Beatles, Stones forget it. At the back of the hall it is too loud, muddy, much of it inaudible and the sound system has utterly failed to match the eleven amplifiers. Not a word can be heard.... I am convinced, I am converted, the Yardbirds are the best group in the world. It took a day to come down from that idea. After it was over I watched them leave, clear smiles on their faces and plane schedules on their minds, and I remembered what they had done to my favorite music, and how my mind ached with the glory of today [but] all the songs sounded the same ... They don't have the variety or didn't choose to on stage that day. Like Butterfield they did one thing, and really well.'

Perhaps in their one last great performance, a glimpse of the promise of this line-up of the band is realized this day. Greg Douglass, an aspiring guitarist who later plays with Steve Miller, also attends this show and equally impressed recalls: "It was just incredible. When I saw Jeff Beck it was like,'Whoa, what's going on here?"' Page himself has said the dual line-up only yielded two or three successful performances and this seemed to be one of them. Despite the lack of a PA powerful enough to project an audible vocal over the wall of amplifiers, like Jeff Beck did in Los Angeles at the Hullabaloo the previous January, he and the Yardbirds as a band make a grand impression on a nascent music scene with this show. It is undeniable that the influence would seep in through local musicians in attendance. One might argue that this show and the recently recorded Stroll On could be considered the partial embodiment of what the band might have been, given the proper direction and opportunity.

It would be a year and a half to two years before both Beck and Page would fully realize their individual musical visions in their immediate post-Yardbirds bands (Jeff Beck Group and Led Zeppelin respectively). It was perhaps all the more frustrating for Jeff and the others to maybe glimpse the power of what the band could be, the potential of its future, and then in a matter of a few days later suffer the insult of once again being reduced to cranking out a few quick solos in a fifteen to twenty minute spot just playing the hits."