Arguing over who was the greatest of the three most famous Yardbirds guitarists — Eric Clapton, Jeff Beck or Jimmy Page — has long been a fun parlor game for rock fans. Forced to make their own determination, Rolling Stone magazine memorably ranked them in the order of Clapton, Page and then Beck.
Of particular interest, however, is how Jim McCarty — the stalwart drummer for the Yardbirds — stacks them up. “I think out of the three,” McCarty tells Dave Fogel of K-HITS Chicago, “Jeff would be the most exciting — the most off-the-wall player. When he was in the band, in ’66, we had some great gigs. And we had some awful gigs, as well. [Laughs.]”
Clapton played lead guitar with the group from 1963–65, followed by Beck in 1965-66 — and then Page, who briefly played in an expanded lineup with Beck, then continued on until 1968 and the founding of Led Zeppelin.
McCarty, who kicks off a U.S. tour with the Yardbirds on June 20, 2014, says he rarely talks to his famous former bandmates. “I haven’t actually heard from any of them recently,” McCarty says. “But I think the person we see more than anyone else is Jimmy Page. He occasionally comes to gigs, and Jeff also. Eric, I haven’t seen for years.”
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