Tribe.net Simon Jasper McCarty, son of Yardbirds drummer Jim McCarty, has…
- Posted on Jun 30th 2010 3:00PM by Pat Pemberton
"Paul came in with an acoustic guitar and said, 'Hey, lads -- what do you think of this?'" says Chris Dreja, the Yardbirds's bass player at the time. "And he started to play a song called 'Scrambled Eggs.'"
Later, McCartney and producer George Martin would score orchestral parts to the song, a melodic ballad about a man reflecting on his younger years. "Of course, it would become 'Yesterday,'" Dreja says.
While the Yardbirds weren't around long, they made enough of an impression on the Beatles, who invited them to perform a series of shows with them in December of 1964 and January of 1965. "They dug what we were doing," Dreja remembers.
While the Yardbirds were relatively unknown, at the time, the Beatles were already a sensation. so the Yardbirds knew opening for the Liverpool band was a big break. "You couldn't go a day without hearing or seeing something in the press about the Beatles," Dreja says.
While the Yardbirds would eventually become known for having three of the greatest rock guitarists -- Eric Clapton, Jeff Beck and Jimmy Page -- in the band at one time or another, at the time Clapton was their lone lead guitarist, with Dreja playing rhythm guitar. When the Yardbirds toured with the Beatles that winter, Clapton found a lifelong friend -- George Harrison.
A few years later, Clapton would record a guitar solo for the Harrison-penned 'While My Guitar Gently Weeps.' While that solo is a legendary rock piece, when the Yardbirds opened for the Beatles, Dreja says, Clapton was a blues purist -- one who would dislike the Yardbirds hit 'For Your Love' because it wasn't bluesy enough.
"Eric is a chameleon, both as a character in many ways and as a musician," Dreja says, noting that Clapton would often change his look and musical styles through the years that followed.
Of course, the Beatles famously changed their sound through the years, and during that winter tour, Clapton and Dreja were able to witness the fruits of the Beatles' success. Between performances at the Hamersmith Odeon, Dreja remembers, the Beatles had a local car company drive a small fleet of Rolls Royces to the venue for the Fab Four's inspection.
"They had this line of Rolls Royces to choose from," says Dreja, who reunited with a reformed Yardbirds in the '90s, "and they were test driving them in the lot behind the stage." The Rolls that John Lennon chose -- and later had painted with a psychedelic design -- sold for $2.3 million in 1985.
While Dreja was one of the select few to hear 'Yesterday' in those early stages, it wasn't the only rock 'n' roll classic he'd get a sneak preview of. "I got to hear 'Stairway to Heaven' before it was released as a single -- with a few mistakes in it," he says.
What rock fan wouldn't want to be in those shoes?