The Yardbirds in the USA, 1965|
Excerpt from the Yardbirds biography by John Platt, Chris Dreja and Jim McCarty
(Sidgwick & Jackson, London, 1983)
So there they were, stuck in LA with no place to play. It was time for another of Giorgio's ideas - and this time it was a good one. Somehow or other they had got to know Bob Markley of the West Coast Pop Art Experimental Band, a group who sadly achieved little more than cult status. Markley's father owned an enormous house in the Hollywood Hills then occupied by various undesirables, and Giorgio had the idea of throwing a party there with the Yardbirds as the chief attraction.
Chris reckons that it was the highlight of the tour, 'Yes, it was a great party. What I remember about the house was that every room was on a different level, and that there was a colour TV, which I'd never seen before.' All manner of people turned up, including Jim McGuinn from the Byrds, and according to Jim [McCarty] there was an incredible mixture of long-haired freaks and film directors. According to legend, both Dylan and Marion Brando turned up, only to drive off again. Jim also mentions an incident the following morning. 'We were loading the equipment - our labours didn't end at playing in those days and this clod of earth hit me on the back of the neck. It had been thrown by Lenny Bruce, who lived upstairs.' At the party Jeff Beck met a lady by the name of Mary Hughes, who at the time was Bob Markley's girlfriend. Ms Hughes figures prominently in the Yardbird legend, but at the time she was 'the epitome of Hollywood semi-stardom'. Jeff, to say the least, was bowled over. As Chris says, 'It was Jeff's first introduction to a beautiful available woman, like he'd never seen before. When he joined us he was in the throes of ending this dull and morbid marriage. He was living in a bizarre flat where the rooms were partitioned off by hardboard! What was interesting was that Jeff was a lot less inhibited than we were. For him it was a total explosion, and he had no qualms about climbing in there and soaking himself in it.'
The story of Mary Hughes' relationship with Jeff and its effect on the band belongs to a later chapter; suffice it to say here that she must have been quite a lady....
(c) 1998 The Music Connection