The Byrds

The Byrds Artistfacts

  • 1964-1973
    Roger McGuinnGuitar, vocals1964-1973
    Chris HillmanBass, vocals1964-1968
    Gene ClarkVocals, tambourine, guitar1964-1966
    David CrosbyGuitar, vocals1964-1967
    Michael ClarkeDrums1964-1967
    Kevin KelleyDrums1968
    Gram ParsonsGuitar, vocals1968
    Clarence WhiteGuitar, vocals1968-1973
    Gene ParsonsDrums1968-1972
    John YorkBass1968-1969
    Skip BattinBass, vocals1969-1972
    John GuerinBass1972-1973
  • Among the pioneers of folk rock, their popularity in the mid-'60s rivaled that of the Beatles. The Byrds' characteristic sound was McGuinn's 12-string Rickenbacker guitar. >>
    Suggestion credit:
    Bertrand - Paris, France
  • Names before the Byrds include: the Jet Set, the Beefeaters. They misspelled "Byrds" as their nod to the Beatles.
  • They're distinctive sound came naturally soon after they started performing together. "We had come out of folk music, so we had a sense of time and rhythm," Chris Hillman said in a Songfacts interview. "It was just basically transposing it into an electric format."
  • When Clark left the band, the media was told it was because he had a fear of flying; a quote by McGuinn saying, "You can't be a Byrd if you can't fly" made the rounds.

    Clark debunked this in a 1983 interview. "The fear of flying wasn't why I quit the group," he said. "When you're 19, 20 years old and you start on a fantasy, then six months later you're hanging out with The Beatles and The Rolling Stones, it can cause you to become a little disturbed. The reason for the group's breakup was much less the fear of flying than it was we were too young to handle the amount of success that was thrown at us all at once."
  • Crosby went on to fame in Crosby, Stills and Nash. Parsons and Hillman formed the Flying Burrito Brothers.
  • White was a former bluegrass guitarist.
  • The Byrds were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame on January 16, 1991, the same night the US began airstrikes on Baghdad.
  • Roger (Jim, as he was known then) McGuinn, had been in the New Christy Minstrels before joining the Byrds. >>
    Suggestion credit:
    Neil - Skokie, IL
  • David Crosby recalled to Uncut magazine how The Byrds started: "I started going up and hanging out with Roger and Gene, we would sing together at The Troubadour," he said. "Gene was from a family of 11 from somewhere like Mississippi, he had no clue what the rules were, so he would just do it in a way that somebody else hadn't thought of. And Roger was so smart, who listened to and go, 'Well, we could just do this and this to it,' and boom, it's a record! I almost hate giving Roger as much credit as I do, but you can't deny it – he was a moving force behind that band, and he did create the arrangements for the songs."
  • During the late 1940s, Roger McGuinn's parents, Jim and Dorothy, wrote a best-selling book which was a satire of Baby And Child Care, Dr. Spock's famed child-rearing manual. McGuinn recalled to Mojo: "It was called Parents Can't Win and it was based on their experiences trying to raise me using child psychology and how it backfired all the time. It was considered very topical and sold well."
  • Roger McGuinn recalled to Mojo that he once had a jam session with Eric Clapton and Jimi Hendrix in New York but "couldn't get a note in edgewise." He added that he's comfortable with his own style rather than trying to keep with his guitar heroes - "I really like the sound of a Rickenbacker."
  • When Chris Hillman received an offer to join a new band, The Byrds, as bass guitarist, he agreed despite never having picked up the instrument before. Writing in his memoir, Time Between: My Life as a Byrd, Burrito Brother and Beyond, Hillman explained he was aware of how talented band members Roger McGuinn, Gene Clark and David Crosby were. So, when he was invited to audition, he lied and said he knew how to play the bass. "Total bluff, the greatest poker bluff ever," Hillman declared.

Comments: 10

  • Cheryl from Western AustraliaWas there ever a band called Yardbyrds I thought it was the Byrds
  • Glenn from So Cal@ Ken from Philadelphia. There are so many inaccuracies in your post. First, the Byrds in their early years 65-67 were excellent. This is not merely my opinion but the consensus of millions of fans all over the world. The four albums they recorded during that time period are among the best they ever made. The "Mr. Tambourine Man" album is one of the best debut albums of all time, and has shown up on numerous "best of" lists by top music publications. Same applies to their fourth album, "Younger Than Yesterday."
    Second, The ONLY songs where studio musicians were used on Byrds recordings was on the "Mr. Tambourine Man" single and its flip side, "I knew I'd want You." They were NOTHING like the Monkees!
    Also, Chris Hillman played the BASS guitar, and it was Gene Clark who was having difficulty with the rhythm guitar and David Crosby took over. His playing was anything but poor. Go back and listen to "I'll Feel a Whole Lot Better" and "The Bells of Rhymney." I think you will find Crosby's playing superb on those early cuts.
    As for the covers, the Byrds did several of them throughout their career but also did a lot of original material throughout as well. And again, with the exception of the above mentioned two songs, all of the material was recorded by members of the Byrds, NOT studio musicians.
    Finally Ken, I'm glad you are a fellow Byrds fan and hope you continue to listen to and enjoy one of the greatest bands ever.
  • Ken from Philadelphia, PaI love the Byrds' music, both in their early "folk rock" incarnation and in the later era "country rock" phase. Even so, it is kind of silly to talk about their musical greatness, especially in their early years. Their records were recorded by studio musicians with Byrds merely adding vocals after the fact. Roger was indeed a talent. Chris Hillman was also talented.... on the mandolin which is irrelevant to his time in Byrds since he only played base with them. Gene Clark was a decent songwriter and decent rhythm guitar player.... but again that is irrelevant since David Crosby played rhythm (poorly) in the early years. Most comical is the fact that Michael Clarke became drummer because he looked good even though he'd never picked up a drumstick in his life. Again, I love their music, and their later stuff (after David left) is darn good with real musicianship evident, but the early stuff is mostly covers played by studio musicians. They were essentially The Monkees.
  • Dave from Bronx, NyThe Byrd's have to be the most underated rock band in history but the Byrd's have stated many times the Beatles were already doing folk rock and the use of the 12 string Rickbocker jangle sound were the reason reason the Byrd's went electric. The Byrd's were better known for it but give the Beatles their due for inspiring the Byrd's to mix those elements with rock.
  • Andy from Arlington, VaJim McGuinn changed his name to Roger when he got interested in Eastern religion.
  • Cosmo from Las Vegas, NvNoel, he's not putting down The Byrds, "The Byrds and the Airplane (Jefferson Airplane) did fly" is a lyric from the song Monterey by Eric Burdon & the Animals, which was about The Monterey Pop Festival in 1967.
  • Hugux from Guadalajara, MexicoThe Byrds and the Airplane did fly...
    Down in Monterey.
  • Jim from Takoma Park, MaJim McGuinn was the fourth(!)member of The Chad Mitchell Trio(see "Timeless Flight" by Johnny Rogan).
  • Dwight from Austin, TxIt was Gene Clark, not Jim McGuinn, who was in the Christy Minstrels.
  • Don from Pittsburgh, PaSuggestion: In 1972, Chris Hillman of the "Byrds" formed a band with Stephen Stills called "Mannassas." Between 1965-75 there was some great music created by a number of artists. But, in my humble opinion, the album "Manassas" is arguably the best of that time.The songs were not beat to death on classic rock music stations. Do yourself a musical favor and get this remastered cd, simply beautiful and awesome music.
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