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Clapton left The Yardbirds in 1965, recommending Jimmy Page to replace him. However, Page declined, and instead recommended Jeff Beck.
Talking to Classic Rock, Beck was sharing anecdotes about a number of musicians including Stevie Ray Vaughan and Ronnie Wood. On the subject of Eric Clapton, he noted that, “I know he didn’t like the fact that I took over from him in the Yardbirds and we did great. The general buzz of the band was that they thought they were finished when Eric left. At my debut with the Yardbirds at the Marquee I showed them what was what and I got a standing ovation, so that was the end of that.”
Following Beck’s debut with the group, “things took off in the States, which pissed Eric off big time. I think he was hankering after going there – like we all were. That was our holy grail, going to America to see the blues players. Within a week we were down in Chicago looking at Howlin’ Wolf. So I think Eric was a bit jealous on that front.”
Clapton wouldn’t have much time to remain jealous, however, as not long after his departure from The Yardbirds, “along came Cream and he blew everybody away,” as Beck puts it.
Beck also noted that the “pissed off” Clapton, at least in reference to The Yardbirds, is a thing of the past. “Nowadays he’s a changed person,” Beck added. “He seems a lot more mellow and happier with himself. I think he’s realised that you don’t have to be mean or in anyway guarded, you can offer yourself in so many ways. And he’s given so much pleasure with his playing and deservedly got the accolades.
Jimmy Page would eventually join The Yardbirds on bass, before replacing Beck on lead guitar.