The Byrds: Mr Tambourine Man

Between 1965 and 1968, the Byrds played a key role in the development of folk-rock and country-rock, and trademark songs "Mr Tambourine Man" and "Turn! Turn! Turn!" became synonymous with the 60s hippy movement.

The Byrds - Mr Tambourine Man (remastered)

Forming in Los Angeles in 1964, because guitarist Roger McGuinn wanted to mix the sounds of the Beatles and Bob Dylan, their 1965 cover of Dylan's "Mr Tambourine Man" featured a hugely influential jangling electric-guitar tone that kick-started folk-rock.

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It topped the charts in Britain and America and the accompanying album, also called Mr Tambourine Man, reached the Top 10 in both charts. Turn! Turn! Turn! was another critical success, and the title track went to No.1 in the American pop chart.



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In 1965 the band began to introduce psychedelic sounds and Indian influences to their music, most notably on the Top 20 hit "Eight Miles High". Fifth Dimension (1966) was one of the first psychedelic-rock albums and was another huge success, but lead songwriter Gene Clark soon left the band because his fear of flying made it impossible to tour. The other band-members had to take over songwriting duties, which helped David Crosby develop his talent so that he could go on to form the supergroup Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young.

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Meanwhile, Younger Than Yesterday (1967) showed hints of the band's new country orientation, but was criticised by some for being over-indulgent. Soon afterwards, Crosby was fired from the band because of personality clashes, and drummer Michael Clark left too. Despite these changes the Byrds' remarkable consistency remained, with The Notorious Byrd Brothers (1968) being one of their best albums yet. They then recruited Gram Parsons, who helped the group in their country-ward musical movement. Sweetheart of the Rodeo (1968) was one of the very first albums of what we now know as country-rock. The new sound alienated some Byrds' fans, while a new crowd was won over by the change. Many critics claim Sweetheart... is the Byrds' greatest achievement, although their previous five albums are also very highly regarded.

In 1968, Parsons and Hillman left to start The Flying Burrito Brothers, leaving Roger McGuinn as the sole remaining member. He continued to record what were essentially solo releases under The Byrds' name, with mixed success. Nothing quite scaled the heights of the 65-68 period, but the 1969 theme to the road movie Easy Rider helped the accompanying soundtrack sell well, and 1970's untitled The Byrds double-album was also warmly received.

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