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(Credit: Jonn Leffmann)

Music

Ronnie Wood recalls joining The Yardbirds on stage

@TylerGolsen

Like a lot of London teenagers in the early 1960s, Ronnie Wood was just another blues-obsessed teenager trying to kick start his career in the music business. His first taste of notoriety came with an R&B band called The Birds, who had a residency at the West London Ealing Jazz Club, the same venue where his future bandmates in The Rolling Stones would occasionally play with Blues Incorporated.

While talking with radio presenter Bob Harris from his book How Can It Be in 2015, Wood recalled how most of his early connections with famous musicians, including Keith Moon, Roger Daltrey, Jimmy Page, and future collaborator Jeff Beck, came thanks to his gigs at Ealing. But it was with another ornithologically named band that kept Woods on top of his game: The Yardbirds.

“I used to gauge my music a lot from seeing The Yardbirds at the Crawdaddy,” Wood explains. “They were really a big influence on me and one night Keith Relf, the singer and harmonica player, was ill. Chirs Dreja, Jim McCarty, Paul Samwell-Smith, and Eric Clapton, they said ‘Does anyone in the audience play harmonica?’ And all my friends pushed me up and they said ‘He does!’”.

“I’m suddenly on stage with The Yardbirds,” Woods says with slight disbelief. “They sent for me afterwards. I did ‘I’m a Man’ and a few songs and then they said ‘Get that guy backstage who looks like Cleopatra.’ Me and Eric and stayed close from that year”.

Clapton would depart The Yardbirds in 1965, during which time Jeff Beck joined for just over a year and a half before departing himself. It was when Beck went solo that Wood finally got a large stage, joining the Jeff Beck Group as their bass player.

Check out Woods’ recounting of his single gig with The Yardbirds down below.