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The Yardbirds

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By now, everyone knows the Yardbirds legend, if not their music; the band graduated three of the great Ph.D.s of rock guitar: Eric Clapton, Jeff Beck and Jimmy Page. They created hard rock out of standard twelve-bar blues, doubling the tempos and whacking the amps up to ten. On the British club scene, the Yardbirds, the Animals, and the Rolling Stones ruled the stages. The Yardbirds expanded the range of the electric guitar, experimenting with feedback, sustain, and fuzztone. They also coined and popularized the rave-up, a kind of free-for-all where you jam long and hard, not as soloists, but in a tandem, until you reach an epiphany about 10 or 20 or 30 minutes later, a shuddering climax of decibels and pure energy, and then—back into the song for one more boom-boom chorus. The Yardbirds were the bridge between the tributary white R&B of early-sixties London and the pastures of fuzz-toned psychedelia and power-chorded heavy metal plowed much later in the decade and throughout the seventies. Yes, the Yardbirds laid the groundwork for Rock Guitar As We Know It.

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