52 years ago today, The Yardbirds played a concert at The Fillmore in San Franci…

Written by on October 24, 2018

52 years ago today, The Yardbirds played a concert at The Fillmore in San Francisco: (Any of you there that night?)

Here is a great story about The Yardbirds, Jeff Beck and Marshall Amplification as told by the manager of the band Simon Napier-Bell:

"Shortly after the Yardbirds filmed Antonioni’s guitar-smashing scene for Blow Up, they left for a tour of the States. Today in 1966, we were at the Filmore in San Francisco, near the end of a tour that had seen plenty of problems.

Thanks to Antonioni, Jeff had become an addicted amp-smasher. Gig after gig he rammed the neck of his guitar through the speakers. We were using Marshall amps and in those days there were only a dozen or so in the country. I was kept imprisoned in the Chicago Hilton, phoning round America trying to locate them, fixing to have one sent to each night's gig, only to see it destroyed by more bad-tempered Becking.

After a week, the supply of amps gave out and Jeff refused to go on. Thereafter the group continued as a foursome and I was able to leave my air-control centre at the Hilton and fly to California, where I stayed with film director Clive Donner in his house in Beverly Hills, together with his secretary and her boyfriend.

Revolver had just been released and we listened to it over and over while we lived sanely on poolside cocktails, interrupted by the daily arrival of Jack Lemmon and Peter Falk to rehearse for the film Clive was about to make with them.

Two or three times a week I flew to one of the group’s gigs, like the one at the Filmore. But particularly memorable was one in San Diego.

The group had arrived to find their equipment was still a thousand miles away. It meant they would have to cancel the gig and the promoter was nervous of the consequences.

I arrived from L.A. at five in the afternoon and the promoter asked if I’d mind going on the local TV news to explain the situation. I agreed but felt nervous. I had a feeling the interviewer would give me a rough time. Keith Relf saw my nervousness and kindly popped out to buy me a big cigar to steady my nerves (something still allowed on TV in those days).

The make-up artist dabbed me with slap, the studio manager counted down, and I calmly lit the cigar.

The interviewer asked, ‘Mr Napier-Bell, is it true you’ve deliberately had the equipment held up so the group are unable to play, when in fact the real reason is that Jeff Beck has walked off the tour?’

I felt I could easily counter the question. The group had already played four gigs without Jeff – this was a simple matter of the freight being delayed. I took a deep drag on my cigar.

There was a flash, a crack like a cap gun and the damned thing blew up. The local joke shop had done Keith proud. The studio collapsed in laughter and I was left sitting in front of a hundred thousand viewers with a blackened face.

It was the only funny thing I can remember about managing The Yardbirds."


Read It Here!

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