It’s best to research the Sixties if you want to get acquainted with the first sounds of folk rock. Although the Eighties may have brought indie rock to the forefront of the industry, creating multiple sub genres, it’s this decade that birthed some of the most legendary music to date. Don’t bypass any album by The Byrds if you want to listen to the original folk sound.
Formed in Los Angeles in 1964, The Byrds were established and maintained by frontman and songwriter Roger McGuinn and became hugely popular from 1965 to 1966. The band achieved a phenomenon level of popularity during those years but fizzled out quickly afterwards. A huge fan of the Beatles, McGuinn brought together respected musicians who were working the acoustic coffee house circuit and were rooted in folk music to form a band. In time, the band became legendary for popularising a unique sound formed from blending harmonies from folk and rock.
McGuinn initially partnered with fellow Beatles’ fan Gene Clark to create covers of their favourite band but shorty after their partnership they met David Crosby at the Troubador in New York City who joined their harmonising duo to perform as a trio.
Playing off musical influences like Bob Dylan, the trio added Michael Clarke as a drummer to form a full band. The drummer did not own a drum set at the time and was made a member based on his good looks as opposed to possessing any musical talent. Soon after they developed his musical ability through cardboard boxes and tambourines the band added mandolin player Chris Hillman to the group. Their cover of Dylan’s Mr.Tambourine Man got them rave reviews and many legendary musicians made their start as part of The Byrds. One of the most influential band of the 1960s, the Byrds blended influences from bands of the British Invasion while maintaining a solid sense of “Americanness” at their core.