An Interview with Jim McCarty
Spring, 1994
1994 Big Bang Magazine.
It was surprise for everyone to see you and Keith Relf, two former members of 
the Yardbirds, a bluesy/heavy rock band, move to a completely different style, 
first with Together, a folk duo, then Renaissance... 
During our last years in the Yardbirds, Keith and myself had something of a 
spiritual awakening... We became interested in the paranormal, psychic 
phenomena, UFO's, Buddhism and the like. Also more mellow music, Simon and 
Garfunkel, Grieg, John Cage, Jim Webb, Joni Mitchell, etc... It seemed to be a 
polarity to the heavy blues we'd played for several years, and it was 
refreshing. We had written quite a few songs before the group split up, all of 
them quite folky. The original idea of Together was to record these songs with 
Paul Samwell-Smith, but then it became necessary to create a band to make a more 
interesting sound. 
So it was the birth of Renaissance? 
Yes... Louis Cennamo was introduced to us by Peter Gage, who knew a lot of 
musicians. John Hawken came through Chris Dreja who was trying to form a country 
and western band. Jane was around, and wanted to sing. She also had the right 
Was there a strong leadership from you and Keith? 
Well, we formed the band, but everybody had a pretty free rein. 
How was Betty Thatcher eventually involved as lyricist? 
Betty was originally a friend of Jane's. Jane used to live in Cornwall, 
actually. She told me about Betty, who used to write poetry, and I tended to be 
lazy with lyrics... I would send her the music on tape. Mick Dunford carried on 
in the same way. 
Why did that first Renaissance break up so quickly? 
As far as I was concerned, I got in quite a state, when we started to tour 
again... Basically, I'd had enough with the Yardbirds, and then it was happening 
again. I left first, then Keith and Louis. John Hawken did a few gigs with Jane 
before she left. John carried on with people that he knew - Dunford, Crowe, 
Korner... then he left. John Tout joined, then Annie Haslam. Dunford then seemed 
to take over the band. I carried on as writer for a while before I totally lost 
contact with them. They signed with John Sheary Agency and really did seem to 
work a lot. 
Apart from the Shoot! album in 1972 what did you do between 1970 and 1975? 
Not much... The Shoot! project was the only thing I did after Renaissance. It 
was just an idea to do some of my own songs, singing them myself. Some of them 
were quite good, but it wasn't exactly a great hit!... 
Eventually, the original Renaissance line-up was back together as Illusion, in 
the mid-70's... 
Yes, around 1975, all the members of the original band met, as we were all 
pleased still to be receiving royalties, after six years... None of us were 
doing much, so we thought about reforming. Obviously, we couldn't use the old 
name, so we took on the name of our second album. After Keith tragically died 
early in 1976, I felt we should go on and played some demos we had made to 
Island records who signed us up. We did two albums before the record company 
dropped us... The punk era was upon us! We did try to get another deal, but 
without success. The Enchanted Caress CD is a collection of demos we used to try 
and get a deal. 
Then there was another gap of several years, until you and Louis Cennamo formed 
Stairway, with the occasional involvement of Jane Relf as well... 
I'd just finished with the Box Of Frogs project, and met up again with Louis. As 
it happened, we were both interested in healing, and were aware of the "healing 
music" released by Colin Wilcox of New World Cassettes. We were introduced to 
Colin, and decided to record some music together. We recorded Aquamarine (1987), 
Moonstone(1988), Chakra Dance (1989) and Medicine Dance (1992). Jane sang on the 
first two. We enjoyed recording these albums, and there was no pressure 
involved, tours etc. We just did a few live performances, mainly at St. James 
Church in Picadilly, a video of which is available. 
What are you doing these days? 
I am carrying on with the more mellow music... I'm putting out a new solo album, 
Out Of The Dark And I've also been playing in a blues band for the past six 
years. I'm enjoying singing!