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The Byrds

By

The Byrds
Courtesy Sony Music

Origins:

1964 - Los Angeles

Original names:

Jet Set, Beefeaters

Origin of the Name:

Picked during band's Thanksgiving dinner

Original Byrds (64-66):

Roger McGuinn - vocals, guitar
David Crosby - vocals, guitar
Chris Hillman - vocals, bass
Gene Clark - vocals, tambourine
Michael Clarke - drums

Other Byrds:

Gram Parsons - vocals, guitar, piano (68)
Kevin Kelley - drums (68)
Clarence White - vocals, guitar (68-72)
John York - vocals, bass (68-69)
Gene Parsons - drums (69-72)
Skip Battin - vocals, bass (69-72)
John Guerin - drums (72)

Influenced By:

Bob Dylan, Beatles, The Dillards

Influence On:

Tom Petty, Elvis Costello, Velvet Underground

First Byrds Studio Album:

Mr. Tambourine Man (1965)

Last Byrds Studio Album:

Byrds (1973)

Signature Byrds Songs:

"Mr. Tambourine Man"
"Eight Miles High"
"Turn, Turn, Turn"

Essential Byrds CD:

The Byrds Greatest Hits
Their fifth album, released in 1967, was their first compilation album, and is their best-selling.

Byrds Beginnings:

The Byrds didn't so much fit into musical genres as they created them. When Roger McGuinn, Chris Hillman, David Crosby, Gene Clark and Michael Clarke got together to form The Jet Set they all (except Hillman, who played bluegrass mandolin) had folk music pedigrees.

The title song of their first album, Mr. Tambourine Man, was an electrified version of a Bob Dylan song, and reflected McGuinn's attraction to both Dylan and John Lennon. With that song, the Folk Rock genre was born.

More Genres To Come:

Their 1966 album Fifth Dimension was one of the earliest experiments in Psychedelic Rock. Crosby left the band in 1967. Gram Parsons signed on in 1968, just long enough for the band to pioneer the Country Rock genre, before leaving for the Flying Burrito Brothers, taking Hillman with him.

By 1969, McGuinn was the only original member left. The next five albums were commercially and artistically disappointing, as was a reunion album, featuring all of the original Byrds, recorded in 1972.

Present and Future Byrds:

The band was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1991. Gene Clark and Michael Clarke died shortly thereafter.

A 2006 release, There Is a Season, a four-CD, one-DVD box set provides a chronological record of the band's work from 1964 through 1973, plus a 1990 reunion. The project was supervised by McGuinn and Hillman.
Talk of another reunion of surviving members Crosby, Hillman and McGuinn surfaces periodically, but McGuinn maintains that he is committed to his career as a solo folk singer.

Byrds Resources:

  1. About.com
  2. Entertainment
  3. Classic Rock
  4. Bands & Artists A - B
  5. Biographical profile of The Byrds

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