The Byrds were an American rock band formed in Los Angeles, California in 1964. The band underwent multiple lineup changes throughout its existence, with frontman Roger McGuinn (known as Jim McGuinn until mid-1967) remaining the sole consistent member. Although their time as one of the most popular groups in the world only lasted for a short period in the mid-1960s, the Byrds are today considered by critics to be among the most influential rock acts of their era. Their signature blend of clear harmony singing and McGuinn’s jangly twelve-string Rickenbacker guitar was “absorbed into the vocabulary of rock” and has continued to be influential.
Initially, the Byrds pioneered the musical genre of folk rock as a popular format in 1965, by melding the influence of the Beatles and other British Invasion bands with contemporary and traditional folk music on their first and second albums, and the hit singles “Mr. Tambourine Man” and “Turn! Turn! Turn!”. As the 1960s progressed, the band was influential in originating psychedelic rock and raga rock, with their song “Eight Miles High” and the albums Fifth Dimension (1966), Younger Than Yesterday (1967) and The Notorious Byrd Brothers (1968).The band also played a pioneering role in the development of country rock, with the 1968 album Sweetheart of the Rodeo representing their fullest immersion into the genre.
The original five-piece lineup of the band 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). 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. 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 elected to rebuild the band’s membership; between 1968 and 1973, he helmed a new incarnation of the Byrds that featured guitarist Clarence White, among others. McGuinn disbanded the then-current lineup 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 later that year.
Several former members of the Byrds 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, McGuinn, Clark & Hillman, and the Desert Rose Band. In 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. Gene Clark died of a heart attack later that year, while Michael Clarke died of liver failure in 1993. McGuinn, Crosby, and Hillman remain active.. (wikipedia)
And here´s a great bootleg from their last period:
In the fall of 1971, the Byrds were only a few months away from breaking up after several years of diminishing commercial returns, but the final edition of the group happened to be one of the best and most stable. With founder and 12-string guitarist Roger McGuinn joined by guitarist Clarence White, bassist Skip Battin, and drummer Gene Parsons, this version of the Byrds didn’t achieve the same magic as the first edition with Gene Clark, David Crosby, and Chris Hillman, but they were inarguably better pickers (especially with White on board), and they delivered some of the best and most distinctive country rock of the era. Straight for the Sun was drawn from a live AM radio broadcast of a show the Byrds played in September 1971 at American University in Washington, D.C., and given how late in the day it was for the group, this disc is a pleasant surprise.
Alternate CD front + backcover:
The Byrds sound at once relaxed and tight, playing a broad cross-section from their catalog (from early hits like “Mr. Spaceman” and an extended workout on “Eight Miles High” to late-period rarities such as “Citizen Kane” and “Tiffany Queen”) with genuine enthusiasm and no small skill, and the interplay between the guitarists is excellent, as McGuinn never had a better foil on-stage than White. The recording is in mono, but the sound is clear, with a few minor glitches, and the balance is quite good for a live mix, with the vocals and instruments giving one another a proper amount of room. Straight for the Sun is highly recommended for serious Byrds fans, capturing a great band sprinting for the finish line; this isn’t as strong as the live material on Untitled, but it comes close enough to confirm McGuinn gave the Byrds his all right up to the bitter end. (by Mark Deming)
Live College AM radio broadcast from the McDonough Gym, American University, Washington DC, 12th September 1971.
Skip Battin (bass, vocals)
Roger McGuinn (guitar, banjo, vocals)
Gene Parsons (drums, vocals)
Clarence White (guitar, vocals)
01. Intro 1.03
02. Lover Of The Bayou (Levy/McGuinn) 4.15
03. So You Want To Be A Rock N Roll Star (Hillman/McGuinn) 2.58
04. Mr. Spaceman (McGuinn) 3.24
05. I Want To Grow Up To Be A Politician (Levy/McGuinn) 2.41
06. Medley: 5.01
06.1. Soldier’s Joy (Traditional)
06.2. Black Mountain Rag (Traditional)
06.3. Mr. Tambourine Man (Dylan)
07. Pretty Boy Floyd (Guthrie) 2.53
08. Nashville West (White/Parsons) 2.25
09. Citizen Kane (Fowley/Battin) 3.27
10. Tiffany Queen (McGuinn) 2.25
11. Chestnut Mare (Levy/McGuinn) 5.07
12. Jesus Is Just Alright (Reynolds) 2.59
13. Eight Miles High (Crosby/Clark/McGuinn) 9.39
14. Hold It (unknown) / Roll Over Beethoven (Berry) 3.02