You Say It's Your Birthday: The Byrds' Gene Clark

That's former Byrds leader Roger McGuinn, not Gene Clark, who celebrates a birthday today.

Today is the birthday of Gene Clark of The Byrds, born

this day 1941. Signed in 1964, the Byrds released their first album as the

Beefeaters, then changed their name on Thanksgiving day, and recorded Bob

Dylan's "Mr. Tambourine Man" shortly after. After this the band was

unstoppable, churning out folk ballads fast as they could write them (or, as in

the case of "Turn, Turn, Turn," lift lyrics them from the Bible) and continued

to soar, despite being banned from radio briefly for "Eight Miles High," which

was reported to allude to drug use (gasp!). Although Clark left the band in

1966, he was persuaded to briefly return in 1967 to replace David Crosby. After

Clark's second departure, the band recruited Gram Parsons, and recorded the

influential country-rock album, Sweetheart of the Rodeo before he left

after refusing to play to segregated audiences during a South African tour. By

the end of 1968 Roger McGuinn found himself the sole remaining original Byrd,

and set about rebuilding his group. Although the new Byrd's line up enjoyed

successful albums, they did not match the popularity of the original outfit and

in 1973, after a brief reunion of all the old Byrds, the new Byrds disbanded.

All members went on to pursue solo careers and reunite on a semi-frequent basis

for

tours.