Paul Samwell-Smith (born Paul Smith, 8 May 1943, in Richmond, Surrey) is best known as a founding member and bassist of the 1960s English band The Yardbirds, a group that spawned such noteworthy musicians as Jeff Beck, Eric Clapton, and Jimmy Page. As a youth, Samwell-Smith attended Hampton School with The Yardbirds drummer Jim McCarty.
While in The Yardbirds, he co-produced and engineered much of their music, working with record producers such as Mickie Most, Simon Napier-Bell and Giorgio Gomelsky. He left The Yardbirds in June 1966 to pursue a career as a music producer.
In late May 1963 he formed The Yardbirds with Keith Relf, Anthony Topham, Chris Dreja, and Jim McCarty. He mainly used an Epiphone Rivoli bass. He played on the UK albums, Five Live Yardbirds and Yardbirds (also known as Roger the Engineer) and on the US albums For Your Love, Having a Rave Up, and Over Under Sideways Down (which was Roger the Engineer retitled), all released on Epic Records. He provided background vocals on many songs like “Good Morning Little School Girl”, “For Your Love”, “Heart Full of Soul”, “Evil Hearted You”, and more. While in the Yardbirds he started working on the technical side in the studio. In 1966, becoming tired of touring and wanting to focus on production, he left the Yardbirds and was replaced by Jimmy Page. The last Yardbirds album he played on was Yardbirds (Roger the Engineer), (a.k.a. “Over, Under, Sideways, Down”)
In the early 80s, Samwell-Smith played in the Yardbirds reunion band Box of Frogs with original Yardbird members Chris Dreja and Jim McCarty. The Box of Frogs did not tour because Chris Dreja was busy with his photography and Samwell-Smith was busy in the recording studio.
He was inducted to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as a member of the Yardbirds in 1992.
Records and film
He went on to become a successful producer with credits including the most successful albums of Cat Stevens, and in addition, Jethro Tull, Carly Simon, Renaissance, Murray Head, Chris de Burgh, Beverley Craven, Illusion and Claire Hamill, as well as producing two of Amazing Blondel’s albums for Island Records, and the first and second albums by All About Eve for Mercury. Samwell-Smith also co-produced “American Tune” with Paul Simon.
Paul Samwell-Smith was the musical producer for the film Harold and Maude in 1971, with music written by Cat Stevens, which became a huge cult classic. In addition, two decades later, he produced Postcards from the Edge in 1990, as a music sound recording and recording supervisor.