BY STEVEN ROSEN
Anthony “Top” Topham was the original guitarist for the Yardbirds. Here he reminisces about his time in—and out of—the Yardbirds.
“When the Yardbirds packed up in 1969,” recalls Topham, “Jimmy Page owned the name. I got three telegrams, which I still have, two from Peter Grant and one from Page. They said, ‘There is very good news for you and would you please contact the office immediately?’ I did and Jimmy told me, ‘I want to take the New Yardbirds back to America. Are you interested?’ I said, ‘No, I’m not, because I’m making my own album!’ [laughs.] People think that’s really weird.
“I think probably I could have brought to the music what Eric did. Because if you look at that time, there was some pretty awful guitar playing going around. I mean, it was very basic. And yes, what Eric did was basic, but it was also incredibly exciting. Maybe what I would have done wouldn’t have been quite as subtle. But I’ve had some wonderful opportunities to play. I left music for 17 years and went back to it when I was 40. Jim McCarty and I met up again and formed the Topham- McCarty Blues Band. It was a good experience, but he wanted to go back and do the Yardbirds again. I didn’t want to sit there and play Yardbirds tunes. I wanted to do my own songs.”