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The Byrds

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Formed in Los Angeles in 1964, the Byrds blended the melodic rock stylings popularized by the Beatles with the socially conscious lyrics of Bob Dylan, to create an original and popular sound that was dubbed folk rock. The jangle of Roger McGuinn’s 12-string Rickenbacker guitar combined with his and David Crosby’s rich harmonies to create a signature sound. 

Covers such as Dylan’s “Mr. Tambourine Man” and Pete Seeger’s “Turn! Turn! Turn!” as well as originals like the psychedelic “Eight Miles High” and “So You Want to Be a Rock n’ Roll Star” were huge hits for the Byrds, as they broke the Top 40 seven times from 1965 to 1967. 

The Byrds were one of the bands that pioneered the Sunset Strip rock scene in Hollywood, opening a pathway for other bands such as the Doors. In a foreshadowing of problems experienced by the Doors and Rolling Stones in 1967, “Eight Miles High” was banned by some radio stations in 1966 due to the lyrics’ alleged drug references. 

Original members Crosby and Gene Clark would leave the band by 1968, but Gram Parsons stepped in, as the Byrds moved in more of a country rock direction. McGuinn would be the only original member to stay in the band into the ‘70s. The band broke up in 1973, but Roger McGuinn continues to tour as a solo act. Rolling Stone Magazine ranked the Byrds #45 on their list of the 100 Greatest Artists of All Time. 

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“I always got a kick out of it when they called it the California Sound because it really came out of Liverpool and Greenwich Village.” - Roger McGuinn 

“I think what makes the Byrds stand up all these years is the basis in folk music. Folk music, being a timeless art form, is the foundation of the Byrds. We were all from a folk background. We considered ourselves folk singers even when we strapped on electric instruments and dabbled in different things.” – Roger McGuinn 

“I don't have to go to the big studio anymore. I can fire up a laptop and get the same quality recording that you used to only get in the favorite one is Adobe Audition, and it's got so many plug-ins that it's just like a million-dollar studio in a box. It's just amazing.” – Roger McGuinn