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Yardbirds Trying To Organise Reunion With Jimmy, Clapton and Beck


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Source:- www.todayszaman.com

Ben King, the 26-year-old lead guitarist for the Yardbirds, has been playing with the band for over five years. He grew up in the English countryside near Oxfordshire, where he learned to play guitar and immersed himself in all types of music.

Looking for like-minded musicians, he enrolled in a university known as the best in Europe for those seeking a career in music, where he met instructor Pete Freisen, who had toured with Alice Cooper and other major acts. When another instructor, John Iden, who at the time was the Yardbirds’ vocalist, asked Freisen if he could recommend a guitarist, as theirs had just left, Freisen recommended 20-year-old King, who he had been very impressed by when he saw him playing at a blues jam.

King, who had finished university a month earlier and wasn’t sure of his future direction, was considering a return to a school that he found too pop/mainstream. Instead he found himself in London, auditioning for the Yardbirds. He played the songs they’d ask him to learn. Then the ‘Birds moved to the other side of the room and had a whispered discussion. “They came back over, and said, ‘Let’s play songs from our latest album, “Birdland”.’ I’d never heard these songs before! They called out the chords, and I fit right in; I fit the Yardbirds’s sound,” King recalled during a recent interview with Today’s Zaman at the İstanbul Jazz Center, where the band made two highly acclaimed appearances over the weekend.

And he’s been holding down the lead-guitar seat in the band ever since. “I’d always dreamed of having a record that [guitar legend] Steve Vai would like, and I found myself in a band that was signed to Vai’s label Favored Nations -- a dream come true.”

However, his first appearance on the label came as a surprise: “In July 2006 we were scheduled to play at the B.B. King Blues Club in New York, where our performance was to be recorded for a live album. However, so I wouldn’t fret about it beforehand, the band waited until 20 minutes before we were to go on stage to tell me -- that really made me nervous.” If you listen to the Yardbirds’ 2007 release “Live at B.B. King Blues Club,” you’ll realize King (and the band) gave an admirable performance.

Asked what it was like to tour with the Yardbirds, King said: “We get to play all over the world at the best venues and share the bill with some of the best bands. It’s fantastic! I’m now part of the lineage of one of the greatest rock bands of all time. … Soon we’ll start to write songs for a new album. … I’ve also started a side project with Dave Smale and Andy Mitchell from the band.”

King, who declined to answer a question about his favorite bands, said the following about music he hates: “I hate the ‘X Factor,’ which I recently found out is totally rigged.” Despite being of the younger generation himself, King has doubts about the contemporary music scene: “Too many young musicians are learning from YouTube. That’s how they learn to finger notes. Musicians must develop their ear and learn how to interpret what they hear. Classical guitar teachers turn their backs on their students, so they have to learn by hearing the music. YouTube-trained musicians only learn rote copying, so they lack finesse.”

And about the future, King hints at a plan that will thrill fans: “I’m trying to instigate a reunion of all the original members of the Yardbirds. We’ve had meetings and phone calls with Eric Clapton and Jimmy Page.” We’ll see what happens, but I’m hoping…

Asked about Jeff Beck and original bass player Paul Samwell-Smith (original singer Keith Relf was electrocuted at home in the ‘70s), King said: “Paul just wants to stay at home in France and drink wine. Jeff is the most problematic. One day he’s interested, the next day he’s not.” In a documentary on the Yardbirds, Beck once said that his best playing had been with the Yardbirds; that his fellow musicians had pushed him to creative heights, to which King responded: “I’ve never heard that before. Maybe we should remind him.”

Check this out

Late Italian filmmaker Michelangelo Antonioni’s 1966 film “Blow Up” features the Yardbirds playing “Stroll On” (very similar to “Train Kept A Rollin’”), which was shot during the short period of time in which Beck and Page both played in the band. A great film and a great performance. And maybe we’ll get to see them playing together in the Yardbirds again.

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Asked about Jeff Beck and original bass player Paul Samwell-Smith (original singer Keith Relf was electrocuted at home in the ‘70s), King said: “Paul just wants to stay at home in France and drink wine."

Ironic considering why Samwell-Smith quit the band in 1966.

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