BYRDS FAQ LIST
Frequently Asked Questions
Archive-name: BYRDS_FAQ 4.2.7
Copyright © 2012, Roger McGuinn
Compiled and Edited by Roger McGuinn,
May be posted to other networks and individual systems provided it is
not edited or modified in any form.
DESTROY ALL PREVIOUS EDITIONS
The Byrds were a pop
music group that started in
McGuinn had been an accompanist for the Limeliters, the Chad Mitchell Trio, Bobby Darin (recorded as the City Surfers with Darin) and musical director for Judy Collins' third album before forming the Byrds with Clark and Crosby.
Gene Clark had been a member of the New Christy Minstrels.
David Crosby had been a member of Les Baxtre's Balladeers.
Chris Hillman had been a member of the Hillmen.
Michael Clarke had been a conga player
The Byrds formed in
1964. Jim McGuinn was doing a solo act at the Troubadour folk club in
Gene Clark, who had just left a folk group called the New Christy Minstrels, was in the audience and liked the combination of folk and rock that McGuinn was playing. After the show they discussed writing some songs together.
The next day they finished some songs and were playing them in the front room of the Troubadour.
They liked the sound they were creating but when David Crosby walked in and began singing a wonderful high harmony part, it was magical.
McGuinn had met Crosby before and wasn't sure he wanted to work with him but when David said he had a friend who had a recording studio they could use free of charge, McGuinn had no objections.
Crosby's friend was Jim Dickson, a producer
at World Pacific Studios on
Dickson promptly became their manager. They called themselves the Jet Set but when Elektra Records signed them, their name was changed to the Beefeaters. The Elektra single "Please Let Me Love You" wasn't a hit, so Dickson suggested that they get a bass player and a drummer.
Dickson invited Chris Hillman, a bluegrass mandolin player, to the studio to audition as bass player. Chris was such a good musician that he was able to learn the bass quickly.
Crosby and McGuinn were standing in front of the Troubadour when they spotted a man coming toward them who looked like a combination of two of the members of the Rolling Stones. Michael Clarke was hired on the spot for just looking the part. Clarke didn't know how to play the drums but that didn't matter.
The band was having Thanksgiving dinner at Ed Tickner's house. Ed was Jim Dickson's partner in management. They all tried coming up with new names for the band. Gene Clark offered "The Birdsies."
Nobody liked that name and Ed said, "How about the Birds?
"Birds" was slang in
Tickner asked, "What if you changed the spelling? How about B-U-R-D-S?"
Everyone hated that one.
Then McGuinn came up with B-Y-R-D-S.
Dickson loved it because it had the magic "B" sound as in Beatles and Bobby. He thought little girls liked the "B" names because they felt less threatened by them. So the group was called "the Byrds”.
The Byrds were a folk based band. McGuinn, Crosby and Clark all played 12-string acoustic guitars. Hillman was learning on a cheap Japanese bass. Michael didn't have a drum kit, so he learned on a set of cardboard boxes with a tambourine taped to the top. He did have real drum sticks.
The first practice recordings they made sounded very primitive. Dickson decided to get a loan so that the band could get some real instruments.
They all went to see the Beatles' movie "A Hard Day's Night," and studied the instruments the Beatles were using. With a borrowed $5000.00 and with the trade-in of McGuinn's banjo and guitar they bought a Rickenbacker 12-string electric guitar, a Gretsch 6-string guitar, a Gibson bass, a set of Ludwig drums and three small Epiphone amplifiers.
They also got some black suits with velvet collars just like their heroes the Beatles.
Before Hillman arrived,
Gene was to have been the rhythm guitar player and
Thanks to intervention
by Jazz man, Miles Davis, the Byrds signed a contract with
Dickson had heard of a Bob Dylan song that Dylan wasn't going to use on his next record because someone was singing out of tune on the track. The song was a folk style tune in 2/4 time with four verses. It ran about five minutes long.
Dickson made the Byrds line up in front
of the studio monitor and listen to "Mr. Tambourine
David was right. Radio wanted what sounded like Beatles' songs and had a strict time limit of two minutes and thirty seconds for a single record.
McGuinn had an idea for a new arrangement. He added a Bach-like intro on his Rickenbacker 12-string guitar and changed the time signature to 4/4 time like a Beatles' song. Then they all auditioned for the lead vocal part.
First Gene sang it, then David and finally McGuinn.
Dickson liked the way McGuinn sounded on the lead and gave him the part.
McGuinn also suggested that they use only one verse to cut down the overall length of the song. They picked the verse with "Boot heels wandering." Because it reminded them of "Beat poet," Jack Kerouac.
They recorded "Mr. Tambourine
Man" in the winter of '65 at
After that the Byrds were allowed to
record more singles and albums. They had hits with "All I Really Want To
Then there were hits with, "Eight Miles High," released April 30, 1966, "Mr. Spaceman," released October 22, 1966 "So You Want To Be A Rock 'N' Roll Star," released February 18,1967 and "My Back Pages," released April 29,1967
The first session for "Mr. Tambourine Man" was too important to leave to the musical skills of this fledgling band. Terry Melcher the producer (Doris Day's son) hired the hit-making "Wrecking Crew" to play the band track for the song. Hal Blaine on drums, Larry Knechtel on Bass Jerry Cole, and Bill Pitman on electric guitar, Leon Russell on electric piano. Jim McGuinn was the only Byrd allowed to play on the session. He played his Rickenbacker electric 12-string.
After the first single, the Byrds played on all their own tracks.
The Byrds were the first to get a hit by rearranging (from 2/4 to 4/4 time) a Dylan written song "Mr. Tambourine Man," and recording it with Rickenbacker electric 12-string guitar, electric piano, electric rhythm guitars, bass, and drums. This, then unknown folk flavored song, was recorded by the Byrds in January of 1965, (see contract) and had reached No. 1 on the Billboard charts before Dylan shocked the folk community later that year by plugging in at the Newport Folk festival.
This article is in the Byrds FAQ to correct the ubiquitous misconception that the Byrds followed Dylan's lead in mixing elements of Folk and Rock. The timing was close, but the Byrds were first.
There was clearly something in the air in the mid 60s regarding the mixing of genres; The Animals had gotten a No. 1 hit with "The House Of The Rising Sun" on August 15, 1964, and even though the song had been on a Dylan album, it was a public domain Blues. Blues had long been a staple of rock music.
Some will say that Dylan recorded with
electric instruments in 1962. But this was a failed experiment by
The Byrds sound came
about naturally. First there was the blend of folk and rock styles. Then
there were the harmonies.
The guitar sound was a blend of Gretsch 6-string and Rickenbacker 12-string parts with an occasional acoustic guitar in the background.
At first the Rickenbacker didn't have
the sound the Byrds were looking for. One of the engineers at
That direct, compressed 12-string guitar
sound combined with
The Byrds met the
John was immediately, extremely interested in Jim McGuinn's little rectangular sun glasses. He liked them so much that he began wearing a round version, later, himself. Lennon had been nearsighted and these new glasses gave him a way to see the audience from the stage for the first time.
The Beatles also invited the Byrds to
visit them at their house in
No. The Byrds and Dylan
never worked together. At one time there were plans to record an album
Dylan did get on stage and sang a few
songs with the Byrds in 1965 at "Ciro's," a
Jim was born James
Joseph McGuinn III. He changed his name in 1967 because a guru in
Because Jim was into gadgets and Sci-Fi, he sent names like "Rocket" and "Ramjet."
He included the name Roger only because they use it for radio messages to indicate "OKAY."
Roger was the only "real" name in the bunch and the guru picked it. Jim only changed his middle name from Joseph to Roger but used Roger as a stage name.
As far as the vibrating with the universe ... he didn't notice any change and would have changed his name back to Jim (which he liked) but that would have been too confusing.
A study of the '60s would help you to understand all this. <G>
Yes. John Phillips and McGuinn were both living at the Earl Hotel in Greenwich Village, where they had frequent jam sessions with other folk musicians on the scene. Barry McGuire would join them occasionally when he was in New York on tour with the New Christy Minstrels.
Then when McGuinn went to
John wrote the song "Creeque Alley" based on their experiences during that time.
Roger McGuinn was inducted into the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame in 1991 for his innovative work with the influential folk/rock band The Byrds.
While recording in
Roger McGuinn was born James Joseph
McGuinn III in
After touring for two years with singer Bobby Darin, McGuinn moved to
McGuinn fronted the Byrds from 1964
until 1973 when he began his solo career. He recorded five albums for
In 1981 he began his Jack Kerouac
inspired adventure, and went on the road with his acoustic guitar. By 1990
McGuinn was back in the studio producing "Back From
The first single, "King Of The Hill," co-written with long time friend Tom Petty soared to number one on the rock charts. That song is also included in acoustic form on "Live From Mars."
When asked about his future plans, McGuinn replies, "Andres Segovia continued performing all his life. That's what I plan to do."
WITH THE BYRDS:
Mr. Tambourine Man
Turn Turn Turn
Younger Than Yesterday
The Notorious Byrd Brothers
Sweetheart of the Rodeo
Dr. Byrds and Mr. Hyde
The Ballad of Easy Rider
The Byrds Play Dylan
Byrds Boxed Set
/ Legacy Columbia
POST BYRDS AND SOLO LP'S:
Peace On You
Roger McGuinn and Band
Back From Rio Arista
Born To Rock And Roll Columbia\Legacy
Live From Mars
Treasures From The Folk Den Appleseed
Limited Edition April First Productions
McGuinn, CLARK AND HILLMAN:
McGuinn, Clark & Hillman Capitol
Most albums are now available on CD
Yes. McGuinn started using a Moog in late 1967 for the Notorious Byrd Brothers album. Here is a list of the songs on which he used a Moog:
Song title Album number
Artificial Energy CS 9575
Natural Harmony CS 9575
Wasn't Born To Follow CS 9575
Space Odyssey CS 9575
Child Of The Universe CS 9755
Ballad Of Easy Rider CS 9942
Jack Tarr The Sailor CS 9942
Armstrong Aldrin And Collins CS 9942
Born To Rock 'N Roll SD 5058
M'Linda C 31946
Draggin' C 31946
Time Cube C 31946
Circa 1967 - 1973
This is something that happens to most bands. Egos become inflated and band members get on each other's nerves. In the Byrds' case, Gene Clark was the first to leave. He had witnessed a fatal airplane crash as a youth and had never gotten over his fear of flying. He had a panic attack on a plane in L.A. bound for New York. Gene had to get off the plane. McGuinn told him, "You can't be a Byrd, Gene, if you can't fly."
Dickson and Tickner had been planning to launch Gene as the next Elvis Presley. That plan never came to fruition.
David Crosby was the next to go. He had been dissatisfied with the musicianship of McGuinn, Hillman and Clarke. He had also been interested in working with Stephen Stills. After the Monterey Pop Festival, McGuinn and Hillman confronted David and asked him to leave the group. David received a large cash settlement to give up his partnership in the Byrds.
After that Michael Clarke quit. Hillman and McGuinn were now 50-50 partners in the Byrds. They decided to keep it that way and hired side men to play other instruments.
The drummer they hired was Kevin Kelley, Chris Hillman's cousin. The Byrds performed as a trio for a while but felt they needed another player to round out their sound. Chris brought a musician around that he'd met at the bank. His name was Gram Parsons.
The next album was all country and they recorded in Nashville. The album, "Sweetheart Of The Rodeo," was a breakthrough in pop music. Now more than 25 years later it is considered a classic.
Gram quit working for the Byrds in London only nine months after Chris and Roger had hired him.
After an ill fated tour of South Africa, Hillman quit the Byrds leaving McGuinn as sole owner and responsible for paying off a huge debt.
McGuinn hired Clarence White and Gene Parsons (not related to Gram) as Guitar player and drummer. John York was hired to play the bass.
This lineup lasted for a short time and John York was replaced by Skip Battin on bass.
They continued touring and McGuinn recorded the "Untitled" album with them.
David Crosby, having reached a high point of success with Crosby Stills and Nash, wanted to do a reunion album with the Byrds.
David convinced all the original members to join him on Asylum Records for the project.
Crosby was upset because McGuinn was still using the name "Byrds." David made McGuinn promise that he would not use the name "Byrds" without him.
In 1973 after the failure of the Byrds reunion album on Asylum. McGuinn became a solo artist.
Since then the Byrds have done several shows and recorded four new songs on the "Byrds Boxed Set."
At this time there are no plans for another reunion.
Yes. The sound the Byrds created with "Jingle Jangle" guitars and vocal harmonies continues to be heard in new bands all over the world, coming out of garages and onto the pop charts.
The Byrds Boxed Set consists of four CDs that cover the entire chronological range of the Byrds from the time of their inception to the time of their last recordings.
The CD titles are:
WE HAVE IGNITION:
Mr. Tambourine Man, I'll Feel A Whole Lot Better, Chimes Of Freedom, She Has A Way, All I Really Want To Do, Spanish Harlem Incident, The Bells Of Rhymney, It's All Over Now Baby Blue, She Don't Care About Time, Turn Turn Turn, It Won't Be Wrong, Lay Down Your Weary Tune, He Was A Friend Of Mine, The World Turns All Around Her, The Day Walk, The Times They Are A-Changin', 5D-Fifth Dimension, I Know My Rider, Eight Miles High, Why, Psychodrama City, I See You, Hey Joe,
Mr. Spaceman, John Riley, Roll Over Beethoven, So You Want To Be A Rock 'N' Roll Star, Have You Seen Her Face, My Back Pages, Time Between, It Happens Each Day, Renaissance Fair, Everybody's Been Burned, The Girl With No Name, Triad, Lady Friend, Old John Robertson, Goin' Back, Draft Morning, Wasn't Born To Follow, Dolphin's Smile, Reputation, You Ain't Goin' Nowhere, The Christian Life, I Am A Pilgrim, Pretty Boy Floyd, You Don't Miss Your Water,
Hickory Wind, Nothing Was Delivered, One Hundred Years From Today, Pretty Polly, Lazy Days, This Wheel's On Fire, Nashville West, Old Blue, Drug Store Truck Drivin' Man, Bad Night At The Whiskey, Lay Lady Lay, Mae Jean Goes To Hollywood, Ballad Of Easy Rider, Oil In My Lamp, Jesus Is Just Alright, Way Beyond The Sun, Tulsa County, Deportee, Lover Of The Bayou, Willin' Black Mountain Rag, Positively 4th Street
Chestnut Mare, Just A Season, Kathleen's Song, Truck Stop Girl, Just Like A Woman, Stanley's Song, Glory Glory, I Trust, I Wanna Grow Up To Be A Politician, Green Apple Quick Step, Tiffany Queen, Bugler, Lazy Waters, Farther Along, White's Lightning, (New versions of) Turn Turn Turn, Mr. Tambourine Man, He Was A Friend Of Mine, Paths Of Victory, From A Distance, Love That Never Dies
All the old masters were transferred to a Sony 64 track digital tape machine and remixed to pull out the stereo that was not included in some of the original mixes.
The overall sound quality of the Boxed Set is excellent! When compared to the earliest CD Byrds albums there is a drastic improvement!
A new Byrds Boxed Set is also in the works!
Were the Byrds
inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame?
Yes the Byrds were inducted in January of 1991.
Time Life Video & Television J592-01 through J592-03.
There are some good clips in TIME LIFE'S
"THE HISTORY OF ROCK-N-ROLL."
SHINDIG "Sixties Superstars," Rhino
Home Video. (came out 3 or 4 years ago)
THE BEST OF THE ED SULLIVAN SHOW VOL.2. Performing "Mr. Tambourine Man."
HULLABALOO VOL. 2, MPI Home Video. Performing "The Times They Are A-Changing" (different intro and outro from LP version) Singing "Do You Believe In Magic" as part of the Top Pop segment of the program.
'So you want to be a Rock and Roll Star' episode. This includes various clips of The Beatles, Bob Dylan, Joan Baez, etc; but in relation to the Byrds there are interviews with Roger McGuinn, David Crosby; and also footage of 'All I really want to do' and 'I'll feel a whole lot better'.
There are also lots of bootleg tapes from old TV shows but nothing else on the legitimate retail market.
The Byrds, By Bud Scoppa, TX1752, Scholastic Book Service
Timeless Flight, By John Rogan, ISBN 0 905906 30 6, Scorpion/ Dark Star
Long Time Gone, By David Crosby / Carl Gottlieb, ISBN 0-385-24530-0, Doubleday
Hickory Wind, By Ben Fong-Torres, ISBN 0-671-70513-X Pocket Books
Gram Parsons - A Music Biography, By Sid Griffin (2nd Edition)Sierra Books ISBN 0-916003-00-0 (hardback) 0-916003-01-9 (paperback)
Timeless Flight Revisited, Johnny Rogan, ISBN 0-95295-401-x, Rogan House
Usenet newsgroup: alt.music.byrds
Gene Clark and Michael Clarke have passed away. Chris Hillman is working as an acoustic artist and has released two CDs: "Bakersfield Bound" and "Out Of The Woodwork" in the mid 90's. David Crosby continues to tour with Nash and Roger McGuinn tours as a solo acoustic artist and has just released a CD rich in Byrds-like “Jingle Jangle” called: "Limited Edition." It’s also available at Amazon.com
<>Will Sony / Legacy reissue the rest of the Byrds CDs?
Sony / Legacy will
release "Untitled," "Byrdmaniax," "Farther
Along," and a new CD
A new Byrds Boxed Set is also in the works.
The best amp to use with a Rickenbacker 12-string is the Roland JC-120
Is there an outboard compressor that sounds
as good as the one in
the Roger McGuinn 370/12RM model 12-string?
I like the sound of the JangleBox.
Pyramid Gold The Ultimate 12-String Set. Pure Nickel Flat Wire Wound Strings with Silver-Plated Plain Strings. Gauges are .010/.010 , .013/.013 , .010/.020w , .013/.030 , .020w/.035 . .030/.0465 $36.00 each. They are expensive, but these 12-String sets have the best sound and last many times longer than traditional strings.