Jim McCarty on the Yardbirds’ forgotten guitar great: ‘He was much more spontaneous’

The Yardbirds will forever be associated with their initial triumvirate of guitar gods — all of them future Hall of Famers. The legends of Eric Clapton, Jeff Beck and Jimmy Page tend to obscure later-period contributors — perhaps none more so than Gypie Mayo.

Mayo helped jumpstart the Yardbirds again in 1995, having earlier taken over for Wilko Johnson in Dr. Feelgood. The late guitarist would also contribute to the Yardbirds’ only studio effort since their 1960s hey day, 2003’s Birdland, before passing away in October of last year.

“He was a great guitar player,” stalwart Yardbirds drummer Jim McCarty tells Pete Feenstra. “He really followed the style of Jeff Beck. He was much more spontaneous, much more off the wall as a player. In the Birdland album, he played some great stuff — some really great solos on some of the songs. There were really sort of completely original. You didn’t know what to expect, a bit like with Jeff. He was a great player.”

Mayo remained with the Yardbirds through 2005, when he was replaced by current guitarist Ben King. McCarty is joined in today’s lineup by original member Top Topham, as well as David Smale and Andy Mitchell. Eric Clapton was in the Yardbirds from 1963–65. Jeff Beck followed in 1965-66. Jimmy Page then took over from 1966-68.

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