The Byrds Template:IPAc-en were an American rock band, formed in Los Angeles, California in 1964.[1] The band underwent multiple line-up changes throughout its existence, with frontman Roger McGuinn, a.k.a. Jim McGuinn, 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 (1965–66), 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 line-up 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 line-up in 1972 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 1991, and Michael Clarke died of liver failure in 1993.[17][18]


History[edit | edit source]

Band members[edit | edit source]

Legacy[edit | edit source]

Discography[edit | edit source]

Further reading[edit | edit source]

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 1.6 Unterberger, Richie. Biography of The Byrds. Allmusic. Retrieved on May 25, 2010.
  2. 2.0 2.1 Ankeny, Jason. Biography of Roger McGuinn. Allmusic. Retrieved on May 25, 2010.
  3. Folk-Rock Overview. Allmusic. Retrieved on March 15, 2010.
  4. Psychedelic Rock Overview. Allmusic. Retrieved on January 30, 2010.
  5. Bellman, Jonathan. (1997). The Exotic In Western Music. Northeastern Publishing. p. 351. ISBN 1-55553-319-1.
  6. Smith, Chris. (2009). 101 Albums That Changed Popular Music. Oxford University Press. pp. 32–34. ISBN 0-19-537371-5.
  7. Buckley, Peter. (2003). The Rough Guide to Rock. Rough Guides. pp. 155–156. ISBN 1-84353-105-4.
  8. Einarson, John. (2005). Mr. Tambourine Man: The Life and Legacy of The Byrds' Gene Clark. Backbeat Books. pp. 87–89. ISBN 0-87930-793-5. http://books.google.com/books?id=ZZUHknGVGx4C&printsec=frontcover.
  9. Hjort, Christopher. (2008). So You Want To Be A Rock 'n' Roll Star: The Byrds Day-By-Day (1965–1973). Jawbone Press. p. 117. ISBN 1-906002-15-0.
  10. Template:Cite AV media notes
  11. Connors, Tim. Byrds. ByrdWatcher: A Field Guide to the Byrds of Los Angeles. Retrieved on May 25, 2010.
  12. Deming, Mark. Biography of Gene Clark. Allmusic. Retrieved on May 25, 2010.
  13. Rogan, Johnny. (1998). The Byrds: Timeless Flight Revisited (2nd ed.). Rogan House. pp. 425–429. ISBN 0-9529540-1-X.
  14. Rogan, Johnny. (1998). The Byrds: Timeless Flight Revisited (2nd ed.). Rogan House. pp. 439–440. ISBN 0-9529540-1-X.
  15. Einarson, John. (2005). Mr. Tambourine Man: The Life and Legacy of The Byrds' Gene Clark. Backbeat Books. pp. 293–294. ISBN 0-87930-793-5.
  16. Rogan, Johnny. (1998). The Byrds: Timeless Flight Revisited (2nd ed.). Rogan House. pp. 445–447. ISBN 0-9529540-1-X.
  17. Rogan, Johnny. (1998). The Byrds: Timeless Flight Revisited (2nd ed.). Rogan House. p. 510. ISBN 0-9529540-1-X.
  18. Unterberger, Richie. Biography of Michael Clarke. Allmusic. Retrieved on May 25, 2010.
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