The Yardbirds, who revolutionized blues-rock in the 1960s, will perform Feb. 8 at the Historic Everett Theatre. (Arnie Goodman)

The Yardbirds, who revolutionized blues-rock in the 1960s, will perform Feb. 8 at the Historic Everett Theatre. (Arnie Goodman)

Yardbirds’ co-founder reflects on legacy before Everett gig

Jim McCarty was the seminal British band’s drummer since the beginning 60 years ago.

Jim McCarty never thought The Yardbirds were going to last.

Sixty years later, fans still don’t want the encore to end.

“It’s all like a bonus to me,” he said in a phone interview with The Daily Herald.

McCarty is a drummer and original member of the English blues-rock band, which is best known for launching the careers of three legendary guitar heroes: Eric Clapton, Jeff Beck and Jimmy Page.

Still touring on the road, The Yardbirds will perform at 7 p.m. Feb. 8 at the Historic Everett Theatre.

McCarty, 76, is the only original member left in the band. The other current members are bassist Kenny Aaronson, rhythm guitarist and lead vocalist John Idan, harmonica player and percussionist Myke Scavone and lead guitarist Godfrey Townsend.

The Yardbirds’ greatest hits from the 1960s include “Shapes of Things,” “Over Under Sideways Down” and “Heart Full of Soul,” which shook up England’s blues scenes. Beck, the band’s lead guitarist from 1965-1966, experimented with reverb, feedback, sustain and other effects, which added a pioneering psychedelic dimension to their bluesy sound.

“Even though it had blues influences, it became more and more unusual with different sounds,” McCarty said. “People would call it psychedelic now, but we never called it that. We were just making up the sound because we enjoyed it and it was quite different.”

The band’s “rave-up” instrumental breaks were equally as experimental and ultimately influential. The style, first introduced on their 1965 album, “Having a Rave Up,” featured drawn out lulls followed by powerful crescendos with double the tempo.

The Yardbirds in 1966: (from left) Jeff Beck, Jimmy Page, Chris Dreja, Keith Relf and Jim McCarty. McCarty, 76, is the only original member left in the band. (Wikipedia)

The Yardbirds in 1966: (from left) Jeff Beck, Jimmy Page, Chris Dreja, Keith Relf and Jim McCarty. McCarty, 76, is the only original member left in the band. (Wikipedia)

“There are various songs where we initiate different time changes in the middle,” McCarty said. “The greatest example is ‘For Your Love.’”

The Yardbirds disbanded in 1968. Then, after 23 years of inactivity, McCarty and rhythm guitarist Chris Dreja reunited to reform the band after it was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1992.

They would play together for the next 21 years until Dreja stepped away in 2013. McCarty has carried the torch ever since.

“It’s very nice for me now because I more or less do it at my own pace,” he said. “I don’t have to play every night like we used to. We were traveling all over the world and playing shows almost every night for years. Now, it’s probably 50 shows a year. It’s quite comfortable.”

McCarty said his current band is committed to performing The Yardbirds’ music as authentically as possible. Townsend, 63, who took over the role of lead guitarist in 2018, has studied Clapton, Beck and Page since he was a teenager.

“I became a total devotee of those guys,” he said. “I often referred to them as the holy trinity of rock guitarists.”

Townsend said he’s honored to fill their shoes, but he added that comes with responsibility. He does his best to play every song as it was recorded back in the ’60s.

“What it’s about is keeping the music alive,” he said. “Anyone can put on a record or listen to music on their devices, but to go into a venue and see something live is another experience. To hear guys playing this music as authentically as they can muster is worth the price of admission.”

Evan Thompson: 425-339-3427, ethompson@heraldnet.com. Twitter: @ByEvanThompson.

If you go

The Yardbirds will perform at 7 p.m. Feb. 8 at the Historic Everett Theatre, 2911 Colby Ave., Everett. Also playing are Arny Bailey’s FM-69, featuring Doug Heath of Paul Revere and the Raiders. Tickets are $32-$49. Call 425-258-6766 or go to www.yourhet.org.

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