In 1963 in Los Angeles, California, USA, there was the start of something great. Three musicians, Jim McGuinn, David Crosby, and Gene Clark, formed a group called The Jet Set, which quickly became The Beefeaters.
Under that name, the single “Please Let Me Love You” was released on Elektra. The group soon added a drummer named Mike Clarke, and a bassist named Chris Hillman who also played mandolin. They became The Byrds.
They secured a record contract and went in the studio and recorded Bob Dylan’s“Mr. Tambourine Man”. The style was unlike anything heard before, due to tight harmonies and McGuinn’s jangly twelve string guitar.
The song shot to No. 1 and The Byrds were on the rock and roll merry go round.
The album named after the hit was released in 1965. The Byrds followed it up with another Dylan tune, “All I Really Want To Do” which went to No. 40. The Byrds scored a second number one with Pete Seeger’s Bible inspired song “Turn! Turn! Turn!” The album of the same name was released in 1966.
Unfortunately that same year Gene Clark left the group. Without him, they released “Fifth Dimension”, which ventured into psychedelic realms. In 1967 came “Younger Than Yesterday”. After this point David Crosby left the band.
There were only three faces on the cover of “Notorious Byrd Brothers”: Roger McGuinn, Chris Hillman, and Mike Clarke. Clarke left the group in 1967. In 1967 Gram Parsons joined the group. He was originally hired to play keyboards, but soon convinced McGuinn and Hillman to go stone country.
Hiring drummer Kevin Kelly, they made the first country rock album, “Sweetheart of the Rodeo”. Gram, protesting the group’s decision to tour South Africa, quit. After that ill fated tour, Hillman also left the group.
McGuinn brought in guitarist Clarence White, bassist John York, and drummer Gene Parsons for “Dr. Byrds and Mr. Hyde” in 1969. In the same year that same group released “Ballad of Easy Rider”.
After this album, John York was replaced by Skip Battin. This new lineup put out the half live, half studio album “Untitled” in 1970. In 1971 they released “Byrdmaniax” and the next year “Farther Along” was released. McGuinn disbanded The Byrds in 1972. The original Byrds reformed for one album in 1973, entitled simply “The Byrds”.
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