The Byrds (American rock band)

~ Group


The Byrds /ˈbɜːrdz/ were an American rock band, formed in Los Angeles, California in 1964. The band underwent multiple line-up 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. 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. 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. As the 1960s progressed, the band was also influential in originating psychedelic rock, raga rock, and country rock.

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. 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). 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. The Byrds continued as a quartet until late 1967, when Crosby and Clarke also departed the band. 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. McGuinn, who by this time had changed his name to Roger after a flirtation with the Subud religion, 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. McGuinn disbanded the then current line-up in early 1973, to make way for a reunion of the original quintet. The Byrds' final album was released in March 1973, with the reunited group disbanding soon afterwards.

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. 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. 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.

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. 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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Year Title RatingReleases
1965 Mr. Tambourine Man 5 14
1965 Turn! Turn! Turn! 8
1966 Fifth Dimension 10
1967 Younger Than Yesterday 4 10
1968 The Notorious Byrd Brothers 5 11
1968 Sweetheart of the Rodeo 4.5 12
1969 Dr. Byrds & Mr. Hyde 8
1969 Ballad of Easy Rider 3 7
1970 (Untitled) 6
1971 Byrdmaniax 3 4
1971 Farther Along 4
1973 Byrds 3

Album + Compilation

Year Title RatingReleases
1967 Greatest Hits 8
1969 Preflyte 7
1972 The Best of The Byrds: Greatest Hits, Volume 2 1
1973 History of The Byrds 1
1976 Greatest Hits 1
1976 Mr. Tambourine Man / Turn! Turn! Turn! 1
1979 The Byrds Play Dylan 4
1980 The Original Singles 1965–1967, Volume 1 2
1987 The Collection 1
1988 The Best Of 1
1989 Never Before 1
1990 The Byrds 2
1990 Best Of Live In Concert 1
1990 Draft Morning - Best 1
1991 Free Flyte 2
1992 20 Essential Tracks From the Boxed Set: 1965–1990 1
1995 Definitive Collection 2
1996 The Best Of The Byrds 1
1997 The Very Best Of 4 1
1998 Super Hits 1
1998 Full Flyte 1965–1970 1
2001 Play the Songs of Bob Dylan 2
2001 The Preflyte Sessions 1
2002 The Byrds Play Dylan 1
2002 The Columbia Singles ’65–’67 1
2003 The Essential Byrds 4
2004 Mr. Tambourine Man: The Best of the Byrds 1
2004 Gene Clark in The Byrds: Set You Free 1964–73 1
2005 The Very Best of the Byrds 1
2006 There Is a Season 1
2011 The Complete Columbia Albums Collection 2
2012 Original Album Classics: The Byrds 1
21 Grandes Sucessos 1
30th Anniversary 1
36 All-Time Favorites 1
Experience 1
In the Beginning 1
The Best of the Byrds 1

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