Heart Full of Soul

Keith Relf of the Yardbirds


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About the Book

This is the first full-length biography of Keith Relf, frontman for the Yardbirds and one of the great tragic characters in rock history. Keith’s moody vocals and harmonica helped to define the Yardbirds’ sound on a string of innovative hit records in the 1960s that influenced garage rock, psychedelia, blues rock, hard rock and heavy metal. Numerous books have been written about the Yardbirds’ famous guitarists—Eric Clapton, Jeff Beck and Jimmy Page—yet Keith has remained a mysterious and elusive figure since his death by electrocution at age 33. A deeply private person, prone to depression and poor health, Keith was ill-suited to the life of a rock star. In the years following the Yardbirds’ breakup, as the band’s guitarists became household names playing blues-based rock, Keith insisted on pursuing new musical paths, always searching for something new and trying to extend the Yardbirds’ spirit of curiosity and innovation. By the time of his death in 1976, Keith was nearly forgotten and struggling physically, emotionally and financially. More than forty years after his tragic death, this important artist’s story has finally been written and his contributions celebrated as more than just a footnote to the careers of his better-known bandmates.

About the Author(s)

New York City resident David French has written about music for Downbeat, JazzTimes, The Los Angeles Times, The Oxford American, Interview, Paste, The Boston Globe and more. He works at Lenox Hill Neighborhood House, a historic nonprofit organization, leading their efforts to create a healthier and more equitable food system.

Bibliographic Details

David French

Foreword by Alice Cooper

Format: softcover (6 x 9)
Pages: 208
Bibliographic Info: 40 photos, discography, notes, bibliography, index
Copyright Date: 2020
pISBN: 978-1-4766-8011-8
eISBN: 978-1-4766-4046-4
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments ix
Foreword by Alice Cooper 1
Preface 3
Introduction 5
1. Richmond Upon Thames 9
2. Ready, Steady, Go! 20
3. Emotional Experiences in Sound 39
4. Invaders 50
5. Pop Art 62
6. Blow Up 81
7. Dazed and Confused 99
8. A Fresh Start 119
9. The Good Life 134
10. The Human Element 142
11. A Place in the Sun 147
12. The Battle of Light and Dark 155
13. Farewell 167
Epilogue 175
Selected Discography 177
Chapter Notes 185
Bibliography 193
Index 195

Book Reviews & Awards

• Certificate of Merit, Best Historical Research in Recorded Rock or Popular Music—ARSC

• “[French] tells Relf’s story, and reconstructs the way too short life of a very gifted and special singer, seen through the eyes of band mates, managers and his widow April Mannino…. This book pays tribute long overdue to an introverted, fantastic, most versatile and unique singer…. This first full-length biography of Keith Relf is well worth reading.”—popcultureshelf.com

• “Thoughtful, first major biography of the Yardbirds’ lead singer…Thanks to Heart Full of Soul, Keith Relf finally gets the chance to speak for himself, and come alive once more, if only through its pages—allowing us to see him as he saw himself. There’s no higher tribute than that.”—Chairman Ralph’s Ministry of Truth

• “Tactful…understated yet powerful”—Association for Recorded Sound Collections Journal