A band whose constant elements were guitarist Roger McGuinn and American folk musics. The original Byrds fused Beatlemania with Bob Dylan to "create" folk-rock (e.g. "Mr. Tambourine Man"). They then lost lead singer Gene Clark (fear of flying), and went into a "space-rock" phase (e.g. "Eight Miles High"). David Crosby left (ego); Gram Parsons joined for a great LP of retro country music. Parsons left. Finally, with guitarist Clarence White, they were an OK jam band.

The Byrds, originally made up of singer/guitarists Roger McGuinn, David Crosby, and Gene Clark, bassist Chris Hillman, and drummer Michael Clarke, formed in Los Angeles in 1964. As McGuinn once said, their early days were "Dylan meets the Beatles."

In 1965 they recorded folk-rock versions of Bob Dylan's "Mr. Tambourine Man" and Pete Seeger's "Turn! Turn! Turn!" Both reached the top of the charts that year. In 1966, the band recorded psychedelic rock hit "Eight Miles High," which was banned from some radio stations due to alleged drug references. Soon after, Crosby and Clark left the band, and Gram Parsons joined. The Byrds then recorded the album Sweetheart of the Rodeo in Nashville, Tennessee, helping to found country-rock.

By 1969, the Byrds were made up of McGuinn, guitarist Clarence White, bassist Skip Battin and drummer Gene Persons. In 1973, the original five Byrds got together for a reunion album, which was not finished. The Byrds dissolved.

In the late '80s, Michael Clarke, the original drummer, put together a new group, which he called "The Byrds," but which did not include any other earlier Byrds members. McGuinn, Crosby, and Hillman filed a lawsuit claiming that Clarke was using the name illegally, but lost the case. Clarke continued touring with his new group of "Byrds" for several years, and was apparently drinking heavily during the same period. Then, in 1991, the five original Byrds were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Even after meeting with and playing with the other original band members during the induction, Clarke continued touring as the Byrds against their wishes until his death of liver disease on December 19, 1993.

In addition to the songs listed above, the Byrds were also responsible for great songs like "So You Want To Be A Rock 'N' Roll Star," "Renaissance Fair," and "Artificial Energy."



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