Yardbirds’ impact on Foghat goes beyond nod in ‘Honey Hush’: ‘That was a spectacular night’

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Foghat’s connections with the Yardbirds go well beyond making that overt reference on “Honey Hush” to the band’s Jeff Beck-era update of “Train Kept A-Rollin’.” In fact, leader Roger Earl’s musical intersections with Jimmy Page’s bands, first as a member of the Yardbirds and then with Led Zeppelin, left an indelible mark on the future Foghat legend.

The Yardbirds were, in fact, a consistent presence on the young Roger Earl’s life — beginning with some of their earliest shows.

“It was 1963, probably, with Eric Clapton, Chris Dreja, Jim McCarty and Paul Samwell-Smith, and it was something we’d never heard before,” Earl tells Hazy Rock. “I also saw the Yardbirds back up Sonny Boy Williamson, aka Rice Miller. Of course, they sort of turned down their box amps, their Marshalls or whatever they were — and they did a great job.”

He then had a chance to see all three of the Yardbirds’ best-known guitarists, on stage for one unforgettable night. “I remember one time I went, Thursday nights was blues nights at the Marquee Club in London,” Earl adds. “Jimmy Page, for some reason, was playing bass. I assume Paul Samwell-Smith had left the band. Jeff Beck was the lead guitarist in the band, and Eric Clapton got up on stage and jammed. I think they did ‘Going Down Slow,’ and probably another song or two, but that was a spectacular night.”

A pre-Foghat Roger Earl was then there for the birth of a new legend, while serving as drummer for Savoy Brown during a stint opening for Led Zeppelin in 1968. He says Page’s new bandmate John Bonham turned heads from the start.

“Bonzo was, how can I put it?” Earl adds. “Hellacious! [Laughs.] I’d never heard drums played like that. Nobody put any dampening on his drums. He didn’t have wallets and sticky tape put all over his stuff. No pillows in the bass drum. It was loud! He was a great, great rock and roll drummer.”

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