Roger McGuinn

Roger McGuinn

The Byrds /ˈbɜːrdz/ were an American rock band, formed in Los Angeles, California in 1964.[1] The band underwent multiple lineup changes throughout its existence, with frontman Roger McGuinn (known as Jim McGuinn until mid-1967) remaining the sole consistent member, until the group disbanded in 1973.[2] Although they only managed to attain the huge commercial success of contemporaries like the Beatles, the Beach Boys, and the Rolling Stones for a short period in late 1965, the Byrds are today considered by critics to be one of the most influential bands of the 1960s.[1] Initially, they pioneered the musical genre of folk rock, melding the influence of the Beatles and other British Invasion bands with contemporary and traditional folk music.[3] As the 1960s progressed, the band was also influential in originating psychedelic rock, raga rock, and country rock.[1][4][5]

The band's signature blend of clear harmony singing and McGuinn's jangly twelve-string Rickenbacker guitar has continued to be influential on popular music up to the present day.[1][6] Among the band's most enduring songs are their cover versions of Bob Dylan's "Mr. Tambourine Man" and Pete Seeger's "Turn! Turn! Turn! (to Everything There Is a Season)", along with the self-penned originals, "I'll Feel a Whole Lot Better", "Eight Miles High", "So You Want to Be a Rock 'n' Roll Star", "Ballad of Easy Rider" and "Chestnut Mare".

The original five-piece lineup of the Byrds consisted of Jim McGuinn (lead guitar, vocals), Gene Clark (tambourine, vocals), David Crosby (rhythm guitar, vocals), Chris Hillman (bass guitar, vocals), and Michael Clarke (drums).[7] However, this version of the band was relatively short-lived and by early 1966, Clark had left due to problems associated with anxiety and his increasing isolation within the group.[8] The Byrds continued as a quartet until late 1967, when Crosby and Clarke also departed the band.[9] McGuinn and Hillman decided to recruit new members, including country rock pioneer Gram Parsons, but by late 1968, Hillman and Parsons had also exited the band.[1] McGuinn, who by this time had changed his name to Roger after a flirtation with the Subud religion,[2] elected to rebuild the band's membership and between 1968 and 1973, he helmed a new incarnation of the Byrds, featuring guitarist Clarence White among others.[1] McGuinn disbanded the then current lineup in early 1973, to make way for a reunion of the original quintet.[10] The Byrds' final album was released in March 1973, with the reunited group disbanding soon afterwards.[11]

Several former members of the band went on to successful careers of their own, either as solo artists or as members of such groups as Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young, the Flying Burrito Brothers and the Desert Rose Band.[1] In the late 1980s, Gene Clark and Michael Clarke both began touring as the Byrds, prompting a legal challenge from McGuinn, Crosby, and Hillman over the rights to the band's name.[12] As a result of this, McGuinn, Crosby, and Hillman performed a series of reunion concerts as the Byrds in 1989 and 1990, and also recorded four new Byrds' songs.[13][14]

In January 1991, the Byrds were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, an occasion that saw the five original members performing together for the last time.[15][16] McGuinn, Crosby, and Hillman still remain active but Gene Clark died of a heart attack in May 1991, and Michael Clarke died of liver failure in December 1993.
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Tags: ringo starr, john lennon, paul mccartney, george harrison, beatles, drums, england, liverpool, rickenbacker, epiphone, hofner, the byrds, roger mcguinn