Remembering The Yardbirds original lead singer Keith Relf

He co-wrote many of the band’s most popular songs including “Shapes Of Things”

Remembering The Yardbirds original lead singer Keith Relf

Keith Relf left his mark on Rock history as a member of the British 60’s band The Yardbirds, despite never having reached the heights of fame as Yardbirds fellow members Eric Clapton, Jimmy Page and Jeff Beck, his importance to Rock music has been recognized and keeps influencing new artists today.

He was born William Keith Relf on 22 March 1943 in Richmond, Surrey, England and in 1956, at only 13 years old, started playing in bands as a singer, guitarist, and harmonica player. Relf was one of the founding members of The Yardbirds, formed in 1963. The band achieved notorious success with their unique sound, a fusion of Folk, Psychedelic and Blues Rock. Several of the original and most memorable Yardbirds songs such as “Shapes of Things”, “I Ain’t Done Wrong”, “Over Under Sideways Down” and “Happenings Ten Years Time Ago”, were co-writting and originally interpreted by Relf. He also was the original vocalist of “Dazed And Confused”, that The Yardbirds during their períod with Jimmy Page used to play live, the song of course, was later a hit for Led Zeppelin, the band that were formed from The Yardbirds ashes. Keith released his debut solo single in 1966, “Mr.Zero”, who achieved mild popularity in the U.K charts. In 1968, as The Yardbirds came to an end he formed the acousting duo Together and later, Renaissance, that also featured his own sister Jane Relf. He left Renaissance in 1970 and dedicated to produce other artists. In 1974, Relf embrassed the rising Progressive Rock scene and formed his own Prog band Armageddon. But in 1976, at age 33 Relf’s life was cut short when he died from electrocution, in the basement of his home, while playing his improperly earthed (electrically grounded) guitar. Because throughout his lifetime he dealt with several health problems, including emphysema and asthma, his body wasn’t able to survive the electric shock. Keith Relf’s musical contribution and influence, was recognized when he was posthumously inducted to the Rock And Roll Hall of Fame in 1992 as a member of The Yardbirds.

Look back at The Yardbirds performing one of their biggest hits “Heart Full Of Soul” featuring Keith Relf on vocals and Jimmy Page on guitar

Listen to The Yardbirds “Live At The BBC” featuring an early version of “Dazed And Confused” on Spotify

Read the three exclusive Pop Expresso reviews on three recent The Yardbirds and Keith Relf releases

Watch more 1960’s related videos


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