Roger McGuinn
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Roger McGuinn

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"Woodbridge, CT"

"As one of the great musical innovators and visionaries of the electric 12-string guitar, McGuinn could play 'Three Blind Mice' and have a crowd roaring wildly . ." - T.J. McGrath

"Boston Globe"

"Roger McGuinn, former lead singer of the 1960's rock group the Byrds, is recapturing American folk music traditions in his latest projects rather than capitalizing on his rock 'n roll years." - Jim Abbott 2001

"Last Night @ McDavid Studio"

Better than: Watching one of those Time Life infomercials about reliving the '60s though a 10 CD compilation featuring the likes of Hermann's Hermits and Ten Years After.

Starting promptly at 8:00, Roger McGuinn treated the packed house in Ft. Worth's McDavid Studio to a musical history lesson. The founding member, singer and guitarist of '60s icons The Byrds delivered 90 minutes of blissful memories for the crowd of lively octogenarians.

The 66-year-old McGuinn, whose guitar chops remain in superior form, remained seating for most of the evening, grinning and telling the stories behind the songs. "It took us 77 takes to get this one right," McGuinn said before playing "Turn, Turn, Turn." He recalled early shows opening shows for Hoyt Axton, Roger Miller and even comedian Lenny Bruce. McGuinn played songs he did prior to The Byrds, when he was the backing guitarist for the Chad Mitchell Trio. But it was on the material for which he is most famous that McGuinn really stirred the emotions of the crowd.

"My Back Pages," "Mister Tambourine Man," "Chestnut Mare," "Ballad of Easy Rider" and "I Wasn't Born to Follow" all echoed into the early evening as McGuinn's twelve string, acoustic guitar replicated the delicate arpeggios that are the trademark sound of The Byrds, hell, even of the decade of the 60's.

McGuinn surprised the audience by singing Gram Parsons' "Hickory Wind" and the blues standard "St. James Infirmary." He stopped only for a few quick sips of water before telling more stories about all those talented players, folks like Parsons, Clarence White and David Crosby. "This kind of fat guy came up and said he wanted to be in my band," said McGuinn of first meeting Crosby. "When he said he could get us free studio time, we had to let him in."

McGuinn's lengthy encore began with "My Back Pages," continued with Dylan's "It's Alright Ma, I'm Only Bleeding" and McGuinn's own classic "So You Want to be a Rock and Roll Star" and ended with a stunning performance of "8 Miles High."

After an hour and a half of musical history, McGuinn tipped his stylist fedora and left. The crowd obviously wanted more, but the house lights quickly came on and most, if not all of them, shuffled off to bed.

Critic's notebook:

Personal Bias: The Byrds were one of the first bands that made a difference to me. When I first heard "Eight Miles High," I was about 8 years old and even then, I remember thinking, "This is better than what my parents listen to." That wasn't too big a hurdle since my parents listened to Neil Diamond and Jim Croce, but you get my drift. Nearly every band that interested me as a teenager - REM, Husker Du, The Replacements, etc. - were inspired by the songs, arranging skills and guitar playing of Roger McGuinn. The fact that such influence continues today in bands like The Mountain Goats and The Walkmen, just to name two, is a testament to the legacy of The Byrds.

Random Note: Damn, Ft. Worth's downtown really kicks Dallas' ass. I know this is old news to most folks, but bustling cannot begin to describe Sundown Square on this particular Saturday night. Bars, restaurants and clubs were all packed with people and not a single skirmish did I witness or ill word did I hear. Amazing.

By the way: Accompanying me on this trek to Cowtown was this portly teacher friend of mine. He's normally a pretty abrasive guy who's main mantra seems to be "I don't give a fuck." Yet even his dour demeanor was softened by the pleasing tones of Roger McGuinn. All smiles on the way out, both of us were delighted that we made the trip to Tarrant County. --Darryl Smyers
- Dallas Observer (Darryl Smyers)

"Roger McGuinn"


ROGER McGuinn is a very unassuming presence for one who pioneered both the folk-rock and country-rock genres in the 1960s as a founding member of The Byrds. This modest and self-assured man prefers a good singalong with his audience rather than rapt reverence, making this a very inclusive, intimate gig.

As a solo artist, McGuinn has been touring his appealing blend of performance and chat for years now, and yet it never goes stale. There is always some fresh insight or interesting anecdote to share with the audience before he seamlessly slips into a one-man rendition of some evergreen classic - often one of the many Dylan songs he transformed from nasal folk vignette into chiming pop nugget.

For those who lap up his signature style, his Concert Hall setlist was unimpeachable - You Showed Me (his first collaboration with fellow Byrd Gene Clark); Going Back; The Times They Are A-Changin'; Eight Miles High; So You Wanna Be A Rock'N'Roll Star; Feel A Whole Lot Better; Mr Tambourine Man to only scratch the surface, with a beautiful, wide-eyed rendition of Chestnut Mare proving the hit of the gig.

McGuinn is a quavery but affecting vocalist and an effortlessly accomplished - but never flashy - guitarist. There was the briefest of concessions to muso-dom when he demonstrated the capabilities of his "Swiss army knife" of a seven-string guitar, but this was a workshop absolutely anyone could get their head round. - Living Scotsman (Fiona Shepard)

"Aging Troubador Warmly Embraced"

Roger McGuinn trod across the recently revamped Rockwell Hall stage Friday night, strumming his 12-string guitar and singing "My Back Pages" - and that was all it took for the multigenerational audience to clasp this aging-yet-hip troubadour to its collective bosom.
McGuinn played and sang tunes from his and a generation's past that resonated so well with the crowd that memories of those halcyon days of the late '60s and early '70s - when music by the Byrds (McGuinn's former group) meshed close-quarter harmonies with folk and rock at the top of the charts - were brought back to life, if only for a few hours.

He didn't just re-create old Byrds hits, however. While McGuinn's solo arrangements of "Turn, Turn, Turn," "Mr. Tambourine Man" and "Eight Miles High" brought oohs and ahhs from his legion of fans, so, too, did some of his later material.

"Draggin'," a tune about 747s racing across the country, and "Jolly Roger" were among the handful of post-Byrds songs in his catalog that got the crowd going. Plaudits from the audience also greeted some of the older folk standards such as "St. James Infirmary" and "James Alley Blues" that he might have come across during his days as a backup musician for the Chad Mitchell Trio and Bobby Darin.

In fact, there was little, if any, reason to gripe about this concert. McGuinn is an excellent all-around guitarist whose new arrangements for the concert's tunes were as full-bodied as one had any right to expect from a single musician. His voice is still as beguiling as ever, and his stage patter - his general interaction with the audience - was polished yet inviting, professional yet warm.

McGuinn's trademark jangly electric and acoustic 12-string guitars added subtle shadings to songs that were so familiar to the audience that it was if the notes were part of their genetic makeup. Occasionally, he even brandished his specially constructed seven-string guitar to add more sonic colors to his palette.

- Buffalor (Garaud MacTaggert)

"McGuinn Solo Show Satisfies "Byrdmaniax""

Appropriately, the show began with the ring of the 12-string even before the curtain parted and the star of the night came into view.

Suddenly, out of the shadows appeared a grinning Roger McGuinn, already strumming the intro to "My Back Pages" on his electric blonde Rickenbacker. And like a genie materializing from a bottle, McGuinn granted the wishes of Byrds-lovers with an evening of fine music at the Egg at Empire State Plaza on Saturday night.

McGuinn, leader of the legendary 60's group The Byrds and a member of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, charmed his capacity audience with both his songs and stories. Unlike his band's reported aloof, cool on-stage manner in their psychedelic heyday, McGuinn projected a warm, folksy demeanor that made one think of him as an easy-going neighbor who just happened to come by to share some fun with friends. Everyone in the audience likely felt that kinship Saturday night.

The show's pull was seductive as McGuinn fired off one Byrds' classic after another as the show began. From "My Back Pages," McGuinn zoomed into "Fifth Dimension," altering his composition by starting with what was the recorded version's outro. This scrambling of a familiar song was a reminder of the time when that song was created, 1965-1966, and of the on-stage improvisations that were starting to be performed by rock bands of that era. McGuinn then rearranged verses on a Bob Dylan-penned Byrds' favorite, "You Ain't Goin' Nowhere," from Sweetheart of the Rodeo.

The biggest audience reaction of the evening, and an entirely appropriate one, came from McGuinn's playing of the Byrds' notorious 1966 single "Eight Miles High," a song that was banned by many radio stations at the time of its release because of the song's supposed drug references.

"This song's got some John Coltrane, Ravi Shankar and Andres Segovia all mixed in," McGuinn explained as he fired up a paisley-powered performance of the song on his 12-string Martin acoustic. The touches of Segovia first came to light with McGuinn's Spanish-inspired picking as "Eight Miles High" began. The guitarist then took a hairpin turn into the song's ominous intro and the audience went along for the ride. As the McGuinn's fingers climbed the neck of his 12-string toward the song's swirling finish, the crowd rose to express its total approval.

The show wasn't all Byrds' material as McGuinn offered a healthy dose of favorites from his solo career, including "Cardiff Rose" and his minor hit from 1990, "King of the Hill," a song he co-wrote with one of his biggest fans, Tom Petty.

The encore presented some of McGuinn's finest efforts of the evening. His vocals on "Chimes of Freedom" were a carbon-copy of 1965-era McGuinn. One could almost have envisioned him in the colored granny glasses and mop-top hair on stage at Ciro's on the Sunset Strip in Hollywood, where it all began for the Byrds.

The jingle-jangle of the Rickenbacker pealed like a church bell and the Byrds-believers were drawn in by the sound of the music. No one there was disappointed with Saturday's sermon of song.
- Dave Windsheimer (Albany Recorder)

"Roger McGuinn - Limited Edition"

In a version here of the public-domain ballad "Shady Grove," ex-Byrd Roger McGuinn -- who invented folk rock by plugging his twelve-string Rickenbacker into Bob Dylan's songbook -- drops a hip-hop machine beat into an ambient mist of jangle and banjo to create what he drolly calls "pho-kop." The result is better than the nickname -- a futuristic hobo's shuffle through a Kentucky mountain fog -- and, like the rest of this album, in the tradition of McGuinn's lifelong investigation of folk music's past and possibilities. His frontier-Beatle vocals and the crystal rain of that Rickenbacker are now an established part of America's roots vocabulary, and they are present and gleaming here: in the Johnny B. Goode-on-Sunset Strip adaptation of "James Alley Blues," the dark-side-of-sunshine original "Parade of Lost Dreams" and a cover of George Harrison's "If I Needed Someone," McGuinn's tribute to the Beatle who first turned him on to the glorious twang of the Rickenbacker.
- Rolling Stone

"Recording studio on your laptop could make you a rock star"

Legendary Byrds guitarist Roger McGuinn and I have something in common: We both made our latest CDs almost entirely on our laptops.

OK, so there are a few points of divergence. Like, McGuinn actually has talent, not to mention a fan base and a distribution deal with His songs tend to be about universal themes of love and loss, while many of mine are about technology: "Invented a new router, speeds up the Internet/ But we're goin' chapter 'leven/ 'Cause ain't nobody bought one yet."

Otherwise, McGuinn and I are simpatico. Like two peas in a pod. Two olives in a loaf.
(He's going to be mortified when he reads this.)

And we're part of a technology wave that is profoundly affecting music ’Äî from the music-making end of things.

File-sharing and the iPod get all the credit for rocking the established recording industry, because that stuff is happening in the highly visible, mass-market consumer part of the business. But back at the beginning of the music pipeline, a different challenge bubbles. Technology is making it cheap and easy to turn a laptop into the equivalent of a professional studio, which means that record labels no longer have a lock on making good-quality recordings.

The studio used to be a barrier to entry. Recording in a studio was the only way to make music that anybody but an artist's mother would want to hear. I have a reissue of Elvis Costello's first album, My Aim is True, that includes many of the songs as he first recorded them on a tape recorder in his house. On those songs, he sounds like he's standing in rush-hour traffic with a blanket over his head.

Studio time has always been expensive. To get in, most artists had to sign with a record label, which would advance the money for recording sessions. That financial barrier has helped record companies control the supply of music in the marketplace and has kept them largely in charge of what kind of music gets made.

Those days seem to be over. McGuinn illustrates what's happening at the professional level.

On the phone, he is totally charged up about the subject of personal recording technology, talking so fast it sounds like he's replaced whatever rock stars ingested in the '60s with intramuscular injections of Starbucks. "This is a breath of fresh air," he says. "It all fits in a briefcase. I just take it on the road."

He released his most recent CD, Limited Edition, in the spring. Twelve of the 13 songs were recorded and mixed on his laptop. He explains that he has a Dell laptop that Dell "graciously gave me for evaluation." He does most of the work using $299 software from Adobe called Audition, which used to be Cool Edit Pro before Adobe bought it.

McGuinn has a pretty good idea of how much money the technology saved him. The first track was recorded in a Nashville studio in a session that cost $6,000, he says. So for 13 tracks, the studio would've cost about $75,000. Instead, the rest of the CD cost him almost nothing. For drums, he even had Tom Petty's drummer, Stan Lynch, set up in McGuinn's family room, recording into the laptop.

"I can mix tracks on an airplane using my earphones," he says.

The low cost allows McGuinn to bypass a record company deal. He sells the CDs on his Web site ( and on Amazon, and he seems to feel that's enough of a distribution network for his fans. Instead of paying back an advance for studio time, McGuinn makes money on every CD he sells.

"It's all gravy now," he says.

For people who are not exactly rock gods ’Äî this would be where I come in ’Äî the technology is democratizing music making. For $20, I downloaded an eight-track mixer from Acoustic Labs. For free, I downloaded the HammerHead Rhythm Station, a drum machine program with a cult following. Add a decent microphone and take the collar off my dog so she doesn't jangle her tags when I'm emoting, and that's it ’Äî I can record at home.

On top of that, for $20 anyone can buy software that lets you create and print CD labels and jewel box covers. I can burn and package a CD that has the clarity of a CD from a major artist.

If Elvis Presley were starting out today, he wouldn't need to go to Sun Studios and pay Sam Phillips the $4 (almost $30 today) to cut one scratchy demo song. He, Scotty Moore and Bill Black could've recorded a crystal clear That's All Right (Mama) in his bedroom on a PowerBook and posted the song on Presley's Web site.

Which brings up the question of whether something here might be lost. Jim Ed Norman thinks so. He's produced top Nashville acts such as Hank Williams Jr. for decades, and he loves technology ’Äî just bought an Apple Power Mac G5 and all the software for personal recording. He's all for reducing the costs, he says, "But there's one thing people will have to be careful about, and that's working in a more solitary environment."

In a studio, people collaborate and criticize, Norman points out. Because the time is expensive, the musicians and e - USA Today (Kevin Maney)

"No Byrd's-eye view for McGuinn"

Roger McGuinn was very happy to have been a member of the Byrds, the folk-tinged rock band of the 1960s that continues to have a huge influence on pop musicians.

He still keeps in touch with fellow Byrds members but has no desire to play with them again.

No bitterness, just no desire to go back in time.

"It's like Paul McCartney once said about the Beatles, you can't re-heat a souffle," said McGuinn, 62, speaking from his home in Orlando, Fla. "I was in the Byrds for nine of the 40 years I've been in music."

McGuinn is proud to say that he's never done anything but make music as his vocation, and he has no thought of stopping now. He'll be performing Saturday at Wells High School, doing a mix of his solo songs, Byrds' songs, and traditional folk songs.

The Byrds became a huge success in the mid-1960s, with McGuinn as the front man. Along with Bob Dylan and others, the group helped popularize pop and rock music with folk influences. The Byrds had seven Top 40 hits from 1965 to 1967, including two No. 1 hits: "Mr. Tambourine Man" and "Turn! Turn! Turn!" The Byrds were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1991.

Preserving traditional folk songs has been McGuinn's prime passion during the past decade. He has a feature on his Web site ( called the Folk Den, where he posts his recording of a different traditional folk song each month. People then can download the folk songs for free. They are often songs that are well-known, like "On Top of Old Smokey" which was posted recently.

"I just noticed that (in the '90s) that folk music started to become this generic term for anything acoustic," said McGuinn. "So wanted to do something to preserve traditional folk songs."

McGuinn readily takes some of the blame for the people thinking acoustic rock or pop is folk music, since the Byrds were a pop-rock band making music that a lot of people called folk.

"I guess I'm trying to make up for what we did," said McGuinn.

McGuinn is planning to release a 100-song CD box set of traditional folk tunes that he's posted on-line over they years. He also continues to tour every year.

"I know, that in the scheme of things, I've been very blessed to be able to do what I do," said McGuinn.
- Maine Today (Ray Routhier)


Roger McGuinn - Limited Edition (2004)
Treasures from the Folk Den (2001)
Feuding Banjos (2000)
McGuinn Hillman (2000)
Live from Mars (1996)
Nitty Gritty Dirt Band - Roger McGuinn - Live (1994)
Born to Rock & Roll (1992)
Back from Rio (1990)
Thunderbird (1977)
Cardiff Rose 1976
Roger McGuinn & His Band (1975)
Peace on You (1974)
Roger McGuinn (1973)



Jim McGuinn, later known as Roger, was already a veteran of the New York and Los Angeles music scene when he co-founded the group that would become the Byrds with Gene Clark and David Crosby in 1964.

Prior to forming the Byrds, Roger toured and performed folk music with the Limeliters, Chad Mitchell Trio and Bobby Darin as a guitarist and banjo player.

McGuinn, a Chicago native, studied at the Old Town School of Folk Music and was active on Chicago's folk scene, where he was strongly influenced as a teenager by Bob Gibson. Within a few weeks of finishing high school, McGuinn was working with the Limeliters in California, and he played guitar and banjo on their album "Tonight: In Person." McGuinn is also on the Chad Mitchell Trio's album "Mighty Day on Campus" (1961).

After touring for awhile with singer Bobby Darin, McGuinn moved to New York at Darin's request to work for his publishing company, TM Music, in the fabled Brill Building as a songwriter. He and Frank Gari co wrote the song "Beach Ball" and performed it with Darin, as the City Surfers, on a very rare single, July 1963.

After hearing the Beatles for the first time at the Brill Building, Roger began playing folk songs to a rock beat in the coffee houses of Greenwich Village.
His experiments in merging folk and rock didn't please the folk purist, so he moved to Los Angeles to work at the Troubadour. It was after an opening set for Hoyt Axton that Gene Clark approached Roger with appreciation for his new musical blend.They started writing songs together in the folk den of the Troubadour.

It wasn't long before David Crosby joined them and added his unique concepts of harmony to the duo, thereby completing the underpinnings for one of the most influential bands of the '60s. Within a few months, McGuinn, Clark & Crosby were looking to expand their group. Conga player Michael Clarke was recruited because he looked like two of the Rolling Stones. Mandolin player Chris Hillman was asked to join the group and learn to play the bass guitar. During a Thanksgiving dinner the band settled on the name "Byrds," and success was just around the corner.

Columbia Records signed the Byrds in January 1965 and they recorded their first number one hit, "Mr. Tambourine Man." In 1968 McGuinn and Hillman hired Gram Parsons and headed for Nashville where they recorded the now critically acclaimed "Sweetheart of the Rodeo."

Roger McGuinn disbanded the Byrds in 1973 to pursue his dream of a solo career. He made five solo albums on Columbia Records. McGuinn rejoined Gene Clark and Chris Hillman in 1978 on Capitol Records for three albums. In 1981 Roger decided it was time to return to his folk roots and began touring solo acoustic.

Arista records released "Back From Rio" in 1991, a rock album that included his friends, Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers, Elvis Costello, Chris Hillman, David Crosby, Michael Penn and John Jorgensen. After touring extensively to support the album he returned to his roots - folk music. In November 1995, McGuinn began recording and uploading to the Internet a series of traditional folk songs to his web site. The recordings are available for free download at the Folk Den (, part of McGuinn's official website (

The autobiographical one-man show, "Live from Mars," was released on Hollywood Records in November of 1996. The album includes two studio tracks, "May The Road Rise To Meet You," and "Fireworks," recorded in Minneapolis with members of the Jayhawks.

Roger's next CD was recorded on Appleseed Recordings, titled "Treasures From The Folk Den." A CD of favorite songs from the Folk Den with the added bonus of duets with Pete Seeger, Joan Baez, Judy Collins, Odetta, Jean Ritchie, Josh White Jr. and Frank and Mary Hamilton. It was nominated for a Grammy in 2002 in the category of "Best Traditional Folk Album."