From The Art and Popular Culture Encyclopedia
The Yardbirds are an English rock band, noted for starting the careers of three of rock's most famous guitarists: Eric Clapton, Jeff Beck and Jimmy Page. A blues-based band whose sound evolved into experimental pop rock, they had a string of hits including “For Your Love”, “Over, Under, Sideways, Down” and “Heart Full Of Soul”. They were a crucial link between British R&B and psychedelia.
The Yardbirds were pioneers in almost every guitar innovation of the '60s: fuzz tone, feedback, distortion, backwards echo, improved amplification, and were one of the first to put an emphasis on complex lead guitar parts and experimentation. The term, "Yardbird" is used in the southern United States as slang for 'chicken' (as in poultry), and it is a slang expression for "prisoner".
The bulk of the band's conceptual ideas, as well as their songwriting, came from the quartet of singer Keith Relf, drummer Jim McCarty, rhythm guitarist/bassist Chris Dreja, and bassist/producer Paul Samwell-Smith, all of whom co-wrote the Yardbirds' original hits and constituted the core of the group.