The Beatles and The Yardbirds wouldn't seem a likely pairing for a show given their different styles of music, but it happened at a Beatles Christmas show when the Yardbirds opened for the Fab Four. And drummer Jim McCarty says John Lennon couldn't stay serious.
The show took place Dec. 24-31, 1964 at the Hammersmith Odeon. The bill included Freddie and the Dreamers and singer Elkie Brooks. The emcee was the late Jimmy Saville, now the focus of sexual abuse allegations.
“I think they (the Beatles) asked us,” McCarty said in a phone interview. “We were the local band making a bit of a stir.”
The Odeon was a theater venue. “You couldn't hear what the Beatles were playing there was so much screaming,” McCarty says. “And consequently, they didn't really bother most of the time. If you heard them backstage, they were just messing about.”
“And John Lennon would make the wrong announcements. Instead of 'A Hard Day's Night,' he'd announce 'A Hard Dave Clark.' And 'Babies in Black' was 'Babies in Blackpool.'”
He also remembered they did a sketch set in Greenland. “In snow and all that. And they brought these ponies on. They didn't just play.”
He said the Beatles were easy to get along with. “They were very friendly. In fact, we were wanting them to write us a song because we were looking for a hit. And they were writing songs for other people, but they didn't do that. But John Lennon gave us a single of a song called 'The Breaking Point' by Chuck Jackson. And he said, 'Oh, I think this would be a good single.”
Did the Yardbirds take Lennon's advice and do the song? “No, it wasn't really bluesy enough for us.”
The current version of The Yardbirds recently released a two-disc DVD, “Yardbirds Making Tracks: On Tour 2010-2012,” a compilation of shows with the current band, but including many old songs, including “For Your Love,” “The Nazz Are Blue,” “Over Under Sideways Down,” “Train Kept-a-Rollin',” “Think About It,” “I'm Not Talking,” “Happening Ten Years Time Ago,” “Heart Full of Soul” and “I'm a Man.”
The edition of the band on the disc features two original Yardbirds, McCarty and Chris Dreja, and three youthful members, who fit in well. The new group carries on the history of the old band with great energy and enthusiasm.
(You can read more of our interview with Jim McCarty here.)
(Copyright Steve Marinucci. Please do not reprint in full on other sites without permission. Headlines with links, though, are fine. Posting any of our links to Twitter and Facebook is much appreciated.)
Don't miss a minute of the most informative coverage of Beatles news in all our Beatles columns Beatles Examiner, Paul McCartney Examiner, George Harrison Examiner and Ringo Starr Examiner to keep up with what's really happening with the Beatles.
To subscribe to this column, click the button above. And follow us on Twitter at @stevemarinucci and please use the hashtag #beatlesexaminer. We're also Steve Marinucci on Facebook and at www.ufollow.com or at www.pinterest.com. And don't miss our weekly Beatles news podcast “Things We Said Today” available on iTunes, Podbean.com and Fab4Radio.com on weekends.