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

No, its not the former leader of the Byrds' (pictured here) birthday today.

Today is the birthday of guitarist Gene Clark of The

Byrds, born in Tipton, MO. in 1941. Signed in 1964, the Byrds released their

first album as the Beefeaters, then changed their name on Thanksgiving day, and

subsequently recorded Bob Dylan's "Mr. Tambourine Man." The popularity of that

song made the Byrds the band of the moment, further introduced Dylan to the

rock and pop audience (Dylan's "Blowin' In The Wind" had already been

popularized by Peter, Paul and Mary), and is considered the beginning of

"folk-rock." 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 from the Bible). The band was briefly controversial due to "Eight Miles

High," a song about drug use that was briefly banned from the radio.

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. Parsons then left after refusing to play to

segregated audiences during a South African tour.

By the end of 1968 Byrds

leader 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. Other birthdays: Bob Gaudio (Four

Seasons).