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(1975 Armageddon radio interview)
There simply is no way to overstate the importance of Keith Relf's contributions to modern rock & roll.
As a founding member and frontman of the
ground-breaking blues/psychedelic band The
Yardbirds - his distinctive vocals and powerful
harmonica playing introduced the world to a new take on
the Howlin' Wolf-Muddy Waters Chicago blues that the
band loved so much. In the wake of The Beatles - they
emerged from the same early 1960's "swinging London"
blues boom as The Rolling Stones, The Animals, The Kinks
and The Who - but The Yardbirds plowed through the scene
with high-octane guitarists like Eric Clapton, Jeff Beck
and Jimmy Page
onboard for the ride. They were really "a band", though
- and did not just exist to back those great players up:
while those guitarists came and went, the band never
faltered from their upward trajectory.
After The Yardbirds folded in July 1968, Relf and Yardbirds' drummer Jim McCarty launched Renaissance (whose debut was produced by former Yardbirds' bassist Paul Samwell-Smith). This band was a classical/folk/rock experimental hybrid that helped to propel modern rock music many years forward, perhaps they even foreshadowed what we now call a vein of "progressive rock" (more piano and bass driven - and Relf was actually the band's guitarist). Renaissance would continue to exist and prosper, with different members, long after the Relf and McCarty left in 1970 - to explore other musical situations.
Relf then undertook various projects
throughout the early 1970's...producing bands like
Saturnalia and Hunter Muskett - as well as producing
& playing bass for Medicine Head, then producing
& providing background vocals for Steamhammer -
whose guitarist Martin
Pugh and bassist Louis
Cennamo would eventually join Relf and American
drumming ace Bobby
Caldwell in Relf's final band...Armageddon.
He was 33 when he died as a result of a shock he took, in the basement of his London home - while playing his improperly earthed (i.e., grounded) guitar. At the time, it is said that Relf was in the process of putting back together the original Renaissance line-up - which would eventually be called Illusion.
This site is under active development...we have much more to discuss about this gifted artist, please stay tuned for future content.
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