Monday, July 13, 2009

Happy Birthday to Roger McGuinn!


James Joseph McGuinn, known as "Roger" since the late 1960's turns 67 today. Few can say they created a genre of music. Almost no one can say they created two.

But Roger McGuinn can make that claim. With The Byrds McGuinn helped to create folk rock. The original lineup (McGuinn, David Crosby, Gene Clark, Michael Clarke, and Chris Hillman) became superstars in August, 1965 with the release of their version of Bob Dylan's Mr. Tambourine Man. Pete Seeger's Turn, Turn, Turn followed, as did Mr. Spaceman, Eight Miles High, and My Back Pages. By 1968 only McGuinn and Hillman remained from the original lineup. And The Byrds went country, with the seminal country rock album Sweetheart of the Rodeo, inspired by new member, the outlawish Gram Parsons. Parsons and Hillman split to form The Flying Burrito Brothers, but McGuinn kept the Byrds alive, bringing in a new lineup, featuring country picker/legend Clarence White on guitar. The double album Untitled with the magnificent ballad Chestnut Mare followed. In February 1973 the Byrds called it a day. But McGuinn continued to record as a solo artist, and in collaborations with past members like Crosby, Hillman, and the late Gene Clark. His distinctive electric Rickenbacker 12 string was the signature of the Byrds and of his solo efforts. His influence can be found in generations of folkies, country acts, and rock bands such as REM and Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers.

Here's a video retrospective of the man, starting in 1963 as a sideman with The Chad Mitchell Trio.

















More with the great Roger McGuinn at his homepage.

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