The Byrds

L.A.'s long-haired answer to the British Invasion took off with the Byrds, a hootenanny-bred, country/soft rock band credited with pioneering psychedelic rock and inserting jangling guitar play into the folk mix. Patterning the creative spelling of their name on the Beatles' example, The Byrds took direction from Roger formerly-known-as-Jim McGuinn and his 12 string Rickenbacker. Although the original members were inexperienced on electronic instruments, they were quick studies and produced their first big hit single, "Mr. Tambourine Man," in mid-1965. Hailed as both America's response to the Beatles and interpreters of Bob Dylan, the band's 1966 single 'Eight Miles High' cemented their association with psychedelic imagery. The cast of Gene Clarke, David Crosby, McGuinn, Michael Clarke and Chris Hillman lost both Clarkes and Crosby in 1967 but were still able to produce "The Notorious Byrd Brothers", an electronic folk-rock album with a hint of country. The addition of Gram Parsons in 1968 led to a decidedly different sound with "Sweetheart of the Rodeo" but thereafter a changing cast and evolving style cut into the band's power. Crosby moved on to become a star with Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young, and Hillman, Parsons and Michael Clarke played country rock with The Flying Burrito Brothers. A 1973 reunion album, although successful, hinted that one can't, or perhaps shouldn't, recapture the glory days. With the deaths of Gene Clarke, after the Byrds' induction into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, in 1991 and Michael Clarke in 1993, die-hard hopes to see the original five on stage one more time were permanently dashed.

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