This pivotal UK R&B group was formed in London in 1963:
Keith Relf (22 March 1944, Richmond, Surrey, England, d. 14 May 1976; vocals/harmonica),
Paul Samwell-Smith (8 May 1943; bass), both members of semi-acoustic act the Metropolis Blues Quartet,
Chris Dreja (11 November 1944, Surbiton, Surrey, England; rhythm guitar),
Tony ‘Top’ Topham (guitar) and
Jim McCarty (25 July 1944, Liverpool, England; drums).
Within months Topham had opted to continue academic studies and was replaced by Eric Clapton. The reconstituted line-up forged a style based on classic Chicago R&B, They succeeded the Rolling Stones.
Clapton emerged as the unit's focal point, but a desire for musical purity led to his departure in 1965 in the wake of a magnificent third single, "For Your Love." Penned by Graham Gouldman.
Jeff Beck, formerly of the Tridents, joined the Yardbirds. Gouldman provided further hits in "Heartful Of Soul" and "Evil Hearted You," the latter of which was a double-sided chart entry with the group-penned "Still I'm Sad."
Samwell-Smith left in June 1966 and became a succesful producer (Cat Stevens, Carly Simon, Yethro Tull, All About Eve ('89), Beverly Craven ('90-'94) among others). Respected session guitarist Jimmy Page was brought into a line-up which, with Dreja switching to bass, now adopted a potentially devastating twin-lead guitar format. Beck left the group during an U.S. tour.
The group folded in June 1968. Page subsequently founded Led Zeppelin, Dreja became a highly successful photographer while the remaining duo forged a new career, firstly as Together, then Renaissance.
Relf was fatally electrocuted in 1976, but the following decade McCarty and Dreja joined Samwell-Smith—now a respected record producer—in Box Of Frogs.
In 2002 there're plans for a new album with Brian May.
Updated 20-08-2002 by Nick.