Last updated 26 October 2014: updated Jack Bruce section.



that shaped a generation

(well, some of us, anyway)

A completely subjective and prejudiced guide


Jack Bruce
Electric Light Orchestra
Led Zeppelin


Most people have heard of them, yet most have never owned a Rush LP. Yet despite that, and the ebb and flow of the fortunes of heavy rock, Rush are still going strong after nearly 30 years, still selling LPs in thousands if not millions. Part of this continuing success may be attributed to the way they've subtly managed to change their sound over the decades - hard riffing power trio through sci-fi prog rock, then heavily into MIDI techno-rock before going back to a more guitar-driven sound in the nineties - and partly due to the stability of the trio. Since losing John Rutsey after the first album and having him (fortuitously) replaced by lyricist Neal Peart on the drums, the line-up has been unchanged.

I confess that when I was a lot younger I found it hard to get into Rush. Apart from the shorter pieces like "Spirit of Radio", their songs at the time seemed too overblown and too complicated, not easily accessible to a young man whose main influences up to that point had been the Beatles, Electric Light Orchestra and Cream. (This was also their period in the late seventies of Hemispheres and Permanent Waves, with mega-long tracks and complicated time signatures). It wasn't until I got to know one of my best friends in Bromley, a drummer who I still think today is the best I ever played with, that I got into the Canadian trio. He would play their music on his car stereo (at the time I couldn't drive, so went everywhere with him), and gradually I got accustomed to it. After that I borrowed his tapes, and found that if you listened to them 2-3 times it definitely paid off. At the time I was a fairly complacent guitarist who thought I knew everything, but after listening to these musos and playing with Rob (who was most definitely influenced by Neal Peart), I realised I was actually still pretty basic, especially in the rhythm section. Alex Lifeson was also playing chords I never knew existed, or at least in unusual voicings. Later, as I switched more and more to bass, I was very influenced by Geddy Lee. The other area where I really took influence from this band was their use of MIDI technology to create a full sound. At first I felt a bit cheated when I saw them at Wembley, using phantom keyboards, but it only took a couple of years of personnel hassles with another band to make me realise that it's definitely worth keeping the numbers small. If modern technology can help you, so much the better - after all, even the most basic rock 'n' roll relies on having access to a wall socket somewhere. Now, if only I could sing as well.....

But I digress. The achievement of Rush has been to stay the course over 30 years while subtly changing their approach enough to remain interesting. With the departure of John Rutsey, the blues-rock format gave way to art rock; then a shorter rock format with some added keyboards; then, in the 80s, a very MIDI-influenced sound layered with keyboards and sequencers; and finally, a back to basics feel as the group dropped the keyboards gradually over the 90s and 00s until the main sound was again the guitars. Following the death of Neil Peart's daughter and wife in the same year, the Canadian trio understandably took a lengthy period off, but came back with Vapor Trails in 2002 and undertook a 30th anniversary tour in 2004. The following album, Snakes and Ladders, dealt with the very weighty matters of faith and belief. Ironically, given Neil Peart's humanist views, the band appears to have quite a Christian following and to have influenced Christian rock, probably because of the above-average intelligence of the lyrical matter.

John Rutsey passed away in 2008, aged 55, of diabetes-related complications, one of the factors which had caused him to leave the band.

The Beatles

There's not much to be said about the Beatles that probably hasn't been said elsewhere, but it's interesting that once again they seem to be in critical favour after being in the doldrums following the punk era. Maybe it is partly the retro thing, together with Vox amps and mop-top haircuts and sideburns, but the fact is that Lennon and McCartney did produce some eminently memorable songs that conveniently had something for all ages, from "Michelle" and "When I'm Sixty-Four" through to "Tomorrow Never Knows" and "A Day In The Life". The band also went through music's seven ages of man, from young rock 'n' rollers playing an exhausting itinerary in Hamburg night clubs to elder statesmen of pop recording rather than touring. Their influence on other bands was profound, particularly in the area of recording, production and songwriting. It may sound a bit harsh, but in a sense the Beatles were more than the sum of their parts: after 1970, with perhaps the exception of Lennon, none of them quite reached the same peak, although each one of them had their moments - even Ringo, with Beaucoup de Blues and Phonograph. Someone once said that McCartney could have done a lot better than Wings if only he'd tried harder, but now he wears the cloak of British pop's respectable senior despite some of his less well-considered off-the-cuff remarks about drugs and politics. Harrison was a fair instrumentalist but seemed uneven when he went solo: after a series of initially very religious albums he turned his hand to the production of films for a while before forming the Travelling Wilburys, a sort of fun band for older rock stars (Harrison, Jeff Lynne, Tom Petty, Bob Dylan and the late Roy Orbison). He retained his old religious allegiances, having been a helping hand behind the Natural Law Party. Harrison died of cancer in 2001. Ringo seems to have enjoyed a new lease of life with Ringo Starr's All-Starr Band, attracting top-name players of his own generation to help him out.

Led Zeppelin

Maybe there's a time in every rock guitarist's life when he wants to be Jimmy Page. In adolescence I suppose it's forgiveable. Page not only had the heavy lightning riffs, he had the looks and the dress sense to be everything that at that age you loved about heavy rock. However, mercifully Led Zep also had the musicianship and the songs as well. Although their finest hour was arguably Physical Graffiti, notably "Kashmir", even the blues numbers on Led Zeppelin I still sound quite listenable today, in particular "How Many More Times". The one LP that does make me cringe in places is II, mainly because of its blatant rip-offs of other, older blues songs (eg "The Lemon Song" which bears an uncanny resemblance to "Killing Floor"), and its sleazy, macho-posturing lyrics on "Whole Lotta Love" and "Living Loving Maid". Still, they do say the second album is always the difficult one for any band.

Perhaps Zeppelin's lasting legacy will be in the mixture of blues, crunching hard rock and acoustic rock, showing how to blend these styles without lurching one way or another. Unfortunately a lot of lesser bands seem to have drawn the wrong lessons, going for full-blown phallic symbolism, overt occult posturing or complete excess in terms of showmanship. In the eighties there were certainly a lot of bands who quite obviously wished they were Led Zeppelin, and based their style unashamedly on one or other aspect of the group's repertoire. Kingdom Come were a blatant clone, while David Coverdale based his Whitesnake 1987 album on the style of what one magazine called "a dodgy Zep cover". Fortunately Robert Plant showed himself remarkably adept in other styles and distanced himself for many years from his old group, although Page seemed to spend most of a decade in limbo. It is refreshing to see that the duo were able to pair up and produce new material and do great live gigs without having to lean too heavily on the Zeppelin legend. Finally the group did reform (with Jason Bonham sitting in his late father's position) for a one-off event at the O2 stadium in London, although speculation about tours has been dampened down.


Cream have always been something of an enigma. Everyone has heard of Eric Clapton, but most of the record-buying public aren't familiar with Jack Bruce and Ginger Baker, the other two-thirds of the so-called "supergroup". Yet in their day they were arguably among the top-rated musicians, both among the jazz and blues fraternities. They only lasted three years (1966-69), and yet their LPs can be found still in most big music departments today. During their heyday they were a massive touring attraction in the US, perhaps to the detriment of their reputation in the UK.

Along with the Jimi Hendrix Experience, Cream practically defined the power trio - bass, guitar and drums, belting out riffs at high volume, with one of the musicians adding a vocal to prevent the whole thing becoming a complete instrumental workout. Being instrumental virtuosos, they were pretty good at jamming, and therein lay the flaw. As Clapton once ruefully said, they thought nobody else could touch them. And so the on-stage jams got longer and longer, until it got to the stage where Clapton at least thought it was more like a fight. For some idea of the excess that this could lead to, listen to the "Live" side of Wheels of Fire, with its quarter-hour long passages (one of which is a drum solo), and you'll get the picture. On good nights it must have been great, but on the other nights it must have degenerated into an uncordinated racket. In the act of defining many a metal act to come after them, Cream destroyed themselves.

Having said that, they were fine musicians, and some of the better live work is fantastic, not just because of Clapton's blistering guitar solos (for me personally everything he did after this period was never as exciting), but also because of Bruce's bass counter-lines and Baker's own unique style of power drumming which influenced a whole generation. None of this would have ensured their lasting fame if it hadn't been for the songwriting partnership of Jack Bruce and Pete Brown, who gave the world such gems as "Sunshine of Your Love" and "White Room", and who injected quirky lyricism and a jazz feel into the mix. In summary, a group often misinterpreted by those it influenced most, but which produced possibly some of the greatest moments of the sixties, both on stage and in the studio.

The trio's subsequent careers were patchy. Clapton formed Blind Faith with Winwood, but according to his autobiography seems to have been not best pleased by Baker turning up one night and becoming part of the band. Blind Faith, despite a reasonable set of material for their eponymous LP, soon disbanded after Clapton lost interest in the project and struck out on his own. Baker instead used the remaining personnel to form Ginger Baker's Air Force, a group that went from enthusiastic critical reception to disbandment within about a year, and then went off to Africa for three years to play with native percussionists, play polo and record, before coming back to the West and involving himself in other low-key projects in rock and jazz. Clapton began what was to be a reasonably lucrative solo career while ironically at the same time struggling first with heroin addiction and later with alcoholism, a hard road that he honestly charts in his autobiography. Today he remains one of the foremost white inheritors and transmitters of the blues legacy. For Jack Bruce's career see below.

In 1993 the band briefly reunited to play a few songs at their induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, but reunion rumours were premature. In 2005, partly prompted by the realisation of their own mortality (Bruce had nearly died after a liver transplant), the group did a few gigs at the Albert Hall and Madison Square Gardens. However, speculation about further dates or material was dampened.

Jack Bruce

As a bass player, if I may sound pretentious for a moment, there are two musicians who have influenced me more than any other: Geddy Lee of Rush, and Jack Bruce.

Jack Bruce was classically trained on the cello, but decided to quit his studies in Scotland at the age of seventeen and make his way down to London to play jazz. Soon established as one of the hot names, he first came to prominence in The Graham Bond Organisation, a somewhat unstable line-up that included virtuoso saxophonist Dick Heckstall-Smith, brooding hard-man Ginger Baker and the maverick Bond himself. Despite some apparently great appearances, the GBO never quite cut it on record and was prone to internal dissent, particularly between Bruce and Baker, who on occasion descended to physical brawling. Once Baker told Bruce to leave the band because his playing was too "busy". Bruce kept turning up for rehearsals anyway, and drily relates that Baker "remonstrated" with him "by pulling a knife". A brief period in Manfred Mann followed which seems to have been commercially successful but artistically frustrating for the Scotsman, and then in 1966 he got the call to Cream. Baker and Clapton had discussed forming a band, and when Clapton suggested Bruce, Baker decided not to let personal things get in the way.

It was Bruce who to a certain degree dominated the band, mainly because of his singing and songwriting, and he was quite strongly placed to continue when Cream split in 1969. Thereafter he produced some fine solo LPs - Songs For a Tailor, Harmony Row, Into The Storm spring to mind - and seemed to involve himself in several projects, both jazz and rock, at a low-key level, rather than pushing himself back into the limelight. More questionable in the minds of some is his involvement with Mountain, who were often derided as a second-division Cream and who did indeed feature Cream's ex-producer Felix Pappalardi on bass at different times. I have to reluctantly say that I was also disappointed with a couple of his later albums, especially I've Always Wanted To Do This, which features other "names" (Billy Cobham, Dave Clemson and others) but which sounds suspiciously like old buddies trying to knock something up over a weekend in a studio. Still, quality control is a problem that has plagued many an artist.

Jack Bruce proved an influential artist in mainly two areas. Firstly, he, together with a few others in the sixties, took the electric bass from being the instrument for the musical simpleton in the band to a new high of respectability and invention, paving the way for the seventies experimentalists such as Stanley Clarke and Jaco Pastorius. While the electric guitar was wailing away, the bassist could be running around on the fretboard too. Secondly, he threw a few more influences into the mix of rock - Scottish folk, jazz and a classical training. The cello appears on several of his tracks, notably "As You Said" and "Rope Ladder To The Moon", giving them a haunting feel. In the seventies he was a pioneer of synthesisers, and the LP Automatic was produced using a Fairlight (about the price of a house in those days) and a harmonica (!). Although he remained something of an erratic and irregular performer to the end of his life, he continued to release new work up to the end of his life, while most if not all of his back catalogue has been reissued.

In 2014 Jack Bruce died aged 71 of liver disease.

Jack Bruce Interviews Tony's Cool Jack Bruce Page The Official Jack Bruce Web Site


"Born To Be Wild" - yeah, sure, but there's more to Steppenwolf than that, seminal rock anthem that it is. (A Christian men's meeting in the USA once took that as their opening soundtrack, with the speaker riding onto the stage on a Harley). However, it was that that always drew me to the band, plus their contributory tracks to the old hippie road movie "Easy Rider" ("Born To Be Wild", "The Pusher" and I think another that escapes me). So I took a low-budget chance on a 20-track compilation LP and gave it a spin, and was actually pretty impressed.

With Steppenwolf, it is a case of what you see is what you get, ie four or five metal-looking dudes playing heavy rock and blues, driven by the archetypal sixties Hammond organ sound. In fact the nucleus of the lineup was John Kay, the singer, Dennis Edmonton on drums and Goldie St John on the organ, with guitarists and bassists apparently coming and going. Kay was of East German origin and occasionally roped in fellow countrymen such as Nick St Nicholas on bass, which explains some of the odd accents on the backing vocals. Being steeped in the blues didn't prevent a good deal of lyrical exploration by the singer, such as on Monster or For Ladies Only, and unlike a lot of the sixties counter-cultural "classics", songs such as "Draft Resister" still sound fresh today.

Perhaps inevitably the band couldn't sustain the pace over the years, and by the mid-seventies had called it a day. Kay reformed the group in the eighties, but he was the only original member. I hate to say this, but having seen a TV appearance by Steppenwolf in the nineties, they did appear to be going through the motions and a little unsure of whether to wave the sixties rebel flag or to try and present a more modern image. But then, criticising your elders is cheap until you reach their age.

For a taster of Steppenwolf, try one of the many compilations about, which are normally low-price. To get an enjoyable live feel, try Steppenwolf Live, which has just been re-released on CD.


Much reviled in their English homeland, even hated if you believe some reviewers, but hugely successful, like certain other English bands, in the USA.... such was Renaissance, another seventies band that somehow embodied the highs and lows of that decade. Interestingly enough, Renaissance was the original idea of Keith Relf and Jim McCarty, vocalist and drummer of the Yardbirds, who started the project when the Yardbirds split, while guitarist Jimmy Page went on to form Led Zeppelin. The two ex-Yardbirds were leaning away from rock and blues and towards a more folky, neo-classical sound. They recruited a classically-trained pianist and bassist, plus Relf's sister Jane, and made an interesting first LP. However, McCarty was certainly not ready to embrace the vicissitudes of touring (he'd had a gruelling time with the old band), and after a number of uncertainties and line-up changes, a completely new group emerged, fronted by the classically-trained Annie Haslam whose voice had the incredible range of five octaves. John Camp on bass also contributed an important part of the sound, as he was one of the seventies exploratory-Rickenbacker style players. John Tout on keyboards and Terence Sullivan on drums completed the lineup, although for the first album they also had an electric guitarist. The latter departed thereafter, leaving Camp in particular with plenty of room for his riffs. Michael Dunford, one of the main songwriters for the band, joined on acoustic guitar. He would collaborate with poetess Betty Thatcher who contributed most of the lyrics, one of the strengths and weaknesses of Renaissance.

Early on the sound became quite lush, as the group added orchestral arrangements to what was already on the way to becoming something of a wall of sound. While this could sound quite awesome on some tracks, such as "Can You Understand?", on others it could become cloyingly treacly. In general Renaissance were stronger when they tackled metaphysical lyricism, however overblown, than when becoming bogged down in sometimes rather twee relationship-style lyrics, in which Haslam's powerful voice could suddenly sound rather little-girl-lost. Following the trend of the decade's giantism, the band took a full orchestra with them on the road, and this period is well represented in the double-live album Live At Carnegie Hall.

Renaissance in the seventies produced some strong LPs, arguably culminating in the classic Song For All Seasons towards the end of the decade, ironically as punk was starting to make indents. Unfortunately after this Tout walked out after personal problems (his sister's death), and Sullivan followed him after the rest of the band decided they would have to do without the troubled keyboard player. Camp, Haslam and Dunford produced a couple of "modern" LPs under the Renaissance name - in all honesty I haven't heard them so can't comment, but somehow the idea doesn't quite gel... For a long while Renaissance LPs were certainly not available in your mass-market stores like Woolworths or even Our Price, but now the back catalogue has begun to appear on CD following a couple of compilation LPs and odds and ends. Whether the original members of the classic lineup will ever reunite is uncertain, but looks unlikely. Terence Sullivan formed Renaissant in the 21st century, and currently (2011) Annie Haslam and Michael Dunford are touring with a new lineup of the band.

Betty Thatcher passed away of cancer in August 15 2011, aged 67.


Another late sixties jazz-rock outfit that depended on the virtuosity of its members rather than the strength of its songwriting, Colosseum nevertheless managed to turn a few good riffs and produce some memorable moments, also using the back numbers of other artists (especially the Bruce-Brown songwriting partnership) which they reinterpreted quite dramatically in some live appearances. The group was born out of drummer Jon Hiseman's desire to "play with normal people", members of the band having played previously with somewhat unstable personalities such as Graham Bond. Hiseman, saxophonist Dick Heckstall-Smith and keyboard player Dave Greenslade were the constant members of the band, guitarists and bassists coming and going but eventually stabilising with Dave Clempson and Mark Clark, the lineup that appears on the definitive live album. I am not certain who originally performed vocal duties, but the group managed a coup by pulling in blues bawler Chris Farlowe, whose impressive power and histrionics were perfectly suited to the band's overall sound.

To be honest, despite admiring their music, I'm a little hazy on their recorded output. Most of the original back catalogue now seems to be unavailable apart from Colosseum Live, and their better-known tracks usually appear on compilations. To be honest, unless you're an absolute die-hard, you probably only need one reasonably fitted compilation (12 tracks or more) plus Colosseum Live to get a good idea of - and enjoy - the band. In a lot of cases the live versions of the songs are more gutsy and interesting than the studio arrangements.

In 1998 Colosseum reformed with the same lineup as on the Live LP and released a new LP, Bread And Circuses. If anyone out there has heard it I'd be interested in their opinion.

Electric Light Orchestra

Electric Light Orchestra? ELO? This has got to be in the nature of a confession, hasn't it? Well, in some ways, yes, although critical rehabilitation of another long-hated and derided seventies supergroup has begun. Come to think of it, perhaps some of the criticism was well aimed. The problem was that some of us aspiring techno-musicians were so dazzled by the idea of someone using cellos and violins within the context of a rock band, we couldn't see the blandness of some of Jeff Lynne's music.

The ELO was ironically born out of the demise of Britain's premier pop rock band The Move, which had been knocking out Top Ten singles (courtesy of Roy Wood) but few LPs for 2-3 years and engaging in rather harmless PR controversy (eg satirical postcards of then-PM Harold Wilson for "Flowers In The Rain"). After personnel began to fall out and drop out, Wood recruited fellow Brummie Jeff Lynne, at the time leading the idiosyncratic pop band Idle Race. Lynne was heavily influenced by the later Beatles work, with its multitude of instruments, and was interested in producing a more varied sound in the studio than hitherto. When the Move finally called it a day, he, Wood and Bevan formed the ELO. Given the technology of the day and the contemporary demand for high volumes, it was a brave step to even consider putting strings, woodwind or brass on the stage, and Bevan ruefully recalls that the first few gigs were indeed disasters. Roy Wood and Jeff Lynne were also two egos that found it hard to work together in the same group, and in the event it was Wood who suddenly quit, taking some of the band with him to form the much more fundamental (and fun-da-mental) Wizzard. Apparently it took some years for the two musos to patch up the rift.

ELO were yet another band that soared to commercial success in America while finding it hard to make a living in the UK. Nevertheless, after a slow start, a string of LPs began to reach top-selling status worldwide, arguably reaching a peak with New World Record and the double Out Of The Blue. At this time, in the true tradition of glam rock excess, the seven-man band were touring with a flying saucer for a stage that opened up to reveal the group, plus lasers, wardrobe, etc.... At the same time the character of the music was changing subtly, from the experimental sound of the first three LPs to a more lush pop sound that played down the individuality of the instruments. The period from Face The Music through Out Of The Blue was an acceptable balance, partly because of the strength of Lynne's music writing, but Discovery sounded (to my ears anyway) embarrassingly wimpy and sickly, a real teeny-bopper's LP. Interestingly, at this point Lynne dropped the string section and thereafter lost the uniqueness of the group. Some years later he admitted that he had become tired of the whole thing, wanting to spend time recording and producing, but instead was bound by contract to produce more LPs. Nevertheless 1981's Time was a return to critical strength, being something of a modern-sounding concept LP. By now, however, the high tide of the seventies had ebbed, and live audiences were significantly down. The group called it a day in the mid-eighties, and Bev Bevan even had a spell playing drums for Black Sabbath. However, with the full circle of fashion and the retro movement, an ELO II was born under the drummer's aegis (and after an out-of-court settlement with old partner Jeff Lynne). Although intended to be a return to the sound of the mid-70s but with original material, the uphill struggles of the group meant that by the end of the nineties most of the group's material was old ELO hits, and in 2000 Bevan quit the group and sold back his share to Jeff Lynne. ELO Part II subsequently renamed itself The Orchestra Lynne restarted the ELO in 2000 but there has been to date only one album, Zoom (2001), a subsequent tour to promote the album being cancelled.

Today ELO LPs can still be purchased on CD. It was an interesting idea, but from my own experience of trying to incorporate the more traditional instruments into a rock format, it's hard to make it work and not to sound like an MOR disaster. The other big factor weighing against a proliferation of instruments, of course, is the desirability of keeping numbers down. The most successful bands, or at least the most stable, normally number three or four members. The advent and growth of MIDI and variable sequencing (allowing the incorporation of virtually an entire orchestra on a 3½" diskette for those moments when you want the full monty at the end of a song) has perhaps rendered the concept obsolete.

The Yardbirds

A commercially singularly unsuccessful band, the Yardbirds were nevertheless the proto-blues, proto-psychedelic and proto-metal band of the sixties, having their roots in the R'n'B boom of that decade while forming the template for later bands that stretched into the Seventies. In part this can be ascribed to the passing through their ranks of three supremely talented guitarists: Eric Clapton, Jeff Beck and Jimmy Page.

The Yardbirds were a London-based outfit who came together with the original lineup of Keith Relf (vocals, harmonica), Jim McCarty (drums), Paul Samwell-Smith (bass), Chris Dreja (rhythm guitar) and 'Top' Topham (lead guitar). The quirky Giorgo Gomelsky was their manager. Topham was soon dropped from the band as he was too young to get served in the pubs and clubs, which paved the way for Eric Clapton. Despite Clapton's cult following and the band's strong blues feel (mainly R'n'B rather than delta blues), commercial success eluded them until they charted with the Graham Gould (later 10cc) song, "For Your Love", a rather less purist number that also featured a harpsichord. Clapton quit in protest as this betrayal of his roots and later joined John Mayall's Bluesbreakers.

Seeking another guitarist, the Yardbirds approached London session player Jimmy Page. Page declined but suggested they try Jeff Beck, then with the Tridents. Beck turned out to be the perfect choice with his more experimental style of playing, mixing blues with Indian-sounding scales and a more harmonic feel than Clapton, and it's my opinion anyway that the Yardbirds finest work was produced during this period, including "Shapes of Things" and "Someone to Love (Parts I & II)". They also cut what was really their only decent studio LP, a rather odd offering that usually goes under the title of "Roger the Engineer". Other changes were afoot: the band dismissed Gomelsky and hired Simon Napier-Bell, with whom they seem to have had a love-hate relationship.

Paul Samwell-Smith was the next to quit. Jimmy Page reckoned he had been embarrassed in front of his parents by an extremely drunken Relf at an undergraduate gig, but Beck claimed the bassist had been getting "snobby". Actually his contribution to the band has never properly been recognised, and in some ways his departure removed some of the group's structure and discipline. He went on to become a producer. By now Jimmy Page was tired of doing sessions and so leapt at the chance to join the Yardbirds, even playing bass. This didn't last for long, however, as he cunningly persuaded Dreja to switch to bass instead so that he and Beck could play twin lead. While this lasted it apparently produced some brilliant moments, but by now Beck's temperamental nature was beginning to get the better of him and his behaviour, especially on tour in the USA, became more erratic. There was an incident involving an amp getting kicked out of a window, and at least one unscheduled trip off to his girlfriend (Mary Hughes, later immortalised in a song of the same name) for a few days. It was this last outing that sealed his fate, as Page was left to play sole guitar one night. On the strength of his performance the other Yardbirds felt that perhaps Beck was expendable after all, and he returned to find himself without a job.

Although Page could turn in some brilliant performances for the band, the rest of them were getting tired of the whole thing. Napier-Bell was swopped for Peter Grant, a highly aggressive but protective manager who at least looked after his acts. (Napier-Bell apparently warned Grant that Page was a "troublemaker". When Grant mentioned this to Page, the latter exploded and explained that under Napier-Bell they had received just £119 between them for a whole US tour). The grinding schedule of the road in particular had worn Relf and McCarty down, and they both became extremely loath to do much more under the Yardbirds name. Nevertheless they went into the studio to cut another LP, "Little Games". Unfortunately the man they chose was infamous for his 3-minute pop wizardry rather than producing rock bands: Mickie Most. The LP used a host of session men to replace odd Yardbirds in various places, and also saw a number of pop songs, even covers, incorporated that should have been left in the cutting room. Only a couple of numbers really stand out, one the acoustic "Black Rose" which shows the direction Relf and McCarty wanted to move in (which would later end up as Renaissance) and the other the very Zeppelin-ish "Think About It" which features a blistering guitar solo uncannily similar to the one on "Dazed And Confused" (Led Zep I). The last tour was even more bizarre, featuring air raid footage and the dancing troupe who later became famous as "Pam's People". Clearly it was time to call it a day.

Page and Grant were left with the Yardbirds name. Under the "New Yardbirds" name they became Led Zeppelin, one of the most artistically and commercially successful bands of all time. Relf and McCarty went on to form Renaissance with McCarty's sister Jane. In 1976 Relf died at home as a result of an electrocution accident. McCarty has since formed a Yardbirds group, playing some low-key gigs.

Incensed? Amused? Got a view? E-mail to Cyberlizard.

Back to Music | Back to Home Page