Founding Yardbirds Guitarist Passed Away At 75

January 2023 continues to deliver sad news. Following his Yardbirds bandmate Jeff Beck’s passing, the band’s first lead guitarist Top Topham departed from this world at 75. According to his publicist, the guitarist died peacefully, surrounded by his loved ones.

“Sanderson Rasjid, born Antony ‘Top’ Topham, passed away peacefully on Monday, January 23, surrounded by his family,” wrote the late musician’s publicist in the statement. “Born in London on July 3, 1947, he was 75 years old and fighting dementia in his final years.”

The statement continued, “A founder member of the Yardbirds when they formed in May 1963, Top was their original guitarist and preceded Eric Clapton, Jeff Beck, and Jimmy Page in the role. He went on to play guitar with artists including Christine McVie, Duster Bennett, and Peter Green, among others and was considered by many as one of the UK’s most original blues guitarists. He was also a talented mural and fine artist and interior designer.”

Top Topham and Chris Dreja formed the Yardbirds after they met Keith Relf, bassist Paul Samwell-Smith, and drummer Jim McCarty. At that time, he was only 16 years old. Following their first gig at Eel Pie Island, their music venture started to become professional. However, as Topham’s family wanted him to take his art studies seriously, he couldn’t continue with the band. In the end, Eric Clapton joined the Yardbirds to replace him.

Topham lent his guitar skills to various bands in the following years and worked with numerous artists, including Fleetwood Mac’s Christine McVie, Peter Green, and Jim McCarty. In 2013, he returned to the Yardbirds after 50 years to fill in for his friend Dreja. However, the guitarist’s second tenure was also brief — he left the band two years later. Tragically, the musician died just two weeks after Jeff Beck, who passed away at 78.