Founding Yardbirds guitarist follows Jeff Beck and Christine McVie into heaven

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Founding member and original guitarist for the Yardbirds Anthony “Top” Topham has passed away at the age of 75.

Topham, who left the Yardbirds before they enjoyed commercial success, had suffered from dementia.

According to the Sun newspaper, his representative said on Wednesday, January 25 that the musician had died on Monday surrounded by his family.

Topham, who later became known as Sanderson Rasjid after joining the Subud spiritual movement, was replaced first by Eric Clapton, then the late Jeff Beck and finally Jimmy Page.

Born in London in 1947, Topham founded the group in 1963 along with secondary school pal Chris Dreja and singer Keith Relf, bassist Paul Samwell-Smith and drummer Jim McCarty. A few months later they were offered a residency at the Crawdaddy Club in Surrey after the Rolling Stones moved. But he decided to leave the group.

He told The Backbeat some time ago: “I was only 15 then, three or four years younger than the rest, and there was no way my parents would let me go out five or six nights a week to play music even though I was already bringing home double what my father was earning.

“I was going on to Epsom Art School and they wanted me to take it seriously.

“Eric Clapton was the obvious person to replace me.

“Later on, I didn’t regret leaving because they’d moved away from the blues music that I was interested in.

“Even if I’d stayed with them to become professional, I think I would have left later for the same reasons Eric left.”

Topham went on to enjoy a successful career playing the guitar for Christine McVie, Duster Bennett, and Fleetwood Mac founder Peter Green. His talents weren’t restricted to music, working in later years as an interior designer and as a mural and fine artist.

Although he had retired from music due to his ailing health, Topham will always be remembered as the founding guitarist of The Yardbirds but also as the sound behind top artists like Christine McVie and Peter Green.


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