The Byrds: Turn, Turn, Turn

Turn, Turn, The Byrds were a California-based rock band in the 60s. The original (but very short-lived) lineup of the band consisted of Jim (Roger) McGuinn (lead guitar, vocals), Gene Clark (tambourine, vocals), David Crosby (rhythm guitar, vocals), Chris Hillman (bass guitar, vocals), and Michael Clarke (drums). In fact, Jim (Roger) McGuinn was the only member who remained consistently a part of the band.

The Byrds are considered by critics to be among the most influential rock acts of their era, even though their time as a “popular group” only lasted for a short period in the mid-60s and very early 70s. At one point, the band were even cited as being an inspiration to The Beatles who were the figureheads of this brave new world.

The nucleus of the Byrds formed in early 1964, when Jim McGuinn, Gene Clark, and David Crosby came together as a trio. Both Dickson and Clarke were added in at a later date in mid-64. But 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 recruited new members, including country rock pioneer Gram Parsons, but by late 1968, Hillman and Parsons had also exited the band.

David Crosby hilariously summed up his departure from the band in the documentary Echo of the Canyon, saying “Ladies and gentleman, that’s not why (referring to his rejected song Triad) they threw me out of The Byrds – they threw me out of The Byrds because I was an asshole.”

The revolving door of members continued until they finally broke up in 1973, with a very short-lived reunion of the early incarnation in late 1972. The reunion actually started in October 1972, beginning with a rehearsal at McGuinn’s house, where the group began selecting suitable material for a new album. The five original Byrds booked studio time in Los Angeles from October 16 until November 15, 1972, and recorded their first album together in seven years. The reunion album, titled simply Byrds, was released on March 7, 1973, to mixed and mostly lukewarm reviews. As a result, a planned tour in support of the album failed to materialize.

Several former members of the Byrds went on to successful careers of their own, either as solo artists or as members of other groups. 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. Sadly, Gene Clark died of a heart attack later that year, while Michael Clarke died of liver failure in 1993.

Sadly, the demise of the band itself was of their own making – massive egos, drugs, mental illness of one original member, and in-fighting created an unworkable and unsustainable environment for these creative beings. The brilliance of their early work is not unnoticed, nor is it dimmed by the chaos that broke the band apart. Songs like Mr. Tambourine Man and Turn, Turn, Turn remains shining examples of great music from the 60s.

Tami Danielson is the main in-house blogger and Director of Operations for Pop-Daze. She was raised in California and Florida and currently resides in Oregon. Tami has written for a variety of periodicals and has provided digital marketing services for a number of artists. She can be reached at [email protected].