During the production of the 1966 film Blow-Up, director Michelangelo Antonioni envisioned a scene similar to that of Pete Townshend's famous live ritual of smashing his guitar on stage. Antonioni had even asked the Who to appear in the film. However, when they refused, in stepped the Yardbirds during that brief period when both Jeff Beck and Jimmy Page were in the band.
The Yardbirds’ short scene (which can be seen in the video below) was filmed at Elstree Studios, U.K., over a four-day period in September 1966.
When speaking about the band's involvement with the project in a 1992 interview, Beck said ...
“Antonioni wanted the most exciting thing we could do, so we played ‘Smokestack Lightning.’ But he didn’t like that, even though we had this incredible buildup in the middle which was just pow!”
Due to issues over publishing, the Yardbirds classic “Train Kept A-Rollin',” was reworked as “Stroll On” for the performance, and as the scene involved the destruction of an instrument, Beck’s usual choice of his iconic Esquire or Les Paul was swapped for a cheap, hollow-body stand-in that he was directed to smash at the song’s conclusion.
Jonathan Graham is an ACM UK graduate based in London studying under the likes of Guthrie Govan and Pete Friesen. He is the creator of ForgottenGuitar.com, a classic-guitar media website, and is completing his debut album, Protagonist, due for release in 2016. Updates also can be found at Graham's YouTube channel.