Home » Musicians » Guitarist » James Joseph McGuinn

James Joseph McGuinn

Born: 1942 AD
Currently alive, at 79 years of age.
Nationality: American
Categories: Guitarist, Musicians, Songwriter

US guitarist – As the frontman of the Byrds, Roger McGuinn and his trademark 12-string Rickenbacker guitar pioneered folk-rock and, by extension, country-rock, influencing everyone from contemporaries like the Beatles to acolytes like Tom Petty and R.E.M. in the process.


1942 – born on July 13 – Chicago, IL 


1958-59 – By his teenage years he was already something of a folk music prodigy.


1960 – After touring with the Limelighters, he signed on as an accompanist with the Chad Mitchell Trio, appearing on the LPs Mighty Day on Campus and At the Bitter End; frustrated with his limited role the group. the singer moved from pop to folk.


1963-64 – After appearing on sessions for Hoyt Axton, Judy Collins, and Tom & Jerry (soon to be known as Simon & Garfunkel) McGuinn began playing solo dates around the Los Angeles area, where he soon formed the Jet Set with area musicians David Crosby and Gene Clark. After a failed single under the name the Beefeaters, the group recruited bassist Chris Hillman and drummer Michael Clarke, changed their name to the Byrds, and set about crystallizing McGuinn’s vision of merging the poetic folk music of Bob Dylan with the miraculous pop sounds heard via the British Invasion.


1965 – their landmark debut single "Mr. Tambourine Man", is released" his jangly guitar work quickly became the very definition of the burgeoning folk-rock form; still, despite the Byrds’ immediate success, both commercially and critically. They also release "Turn, Turn, Turn" this year.


1967 – They release the hit single "8 Miles High" this year.


1968 – the group was plagued by internal strife, and following the release of their country-rock breakthrough Sweetheart of the Rodeo, McGuinn was the only founding member still in the band.


1973 – Under the direction of McGuinn – who had changed his first name to Roger after a flirtation with the Subud religion – the Byrds soldiered on, delving further and further into country and roots music before finally dissolving in February of that year.


1977 – McGuinn reunited with Byrds mates Chris Hillman and Gene Clark, the resulting LP, 1979’s McGuinn, Clark & Hillman, notched a Top 40 pop hit with the McGuinn-penned "Don’t You Write Her Off."


1980’s – After undergoing another religious conversion, this time becoming a born-again Christian, McGuinn spent the remainder of the 80’s without a recording contract and performing solo dates.


1992 – the same year the Byrds were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame – McGuinn issued his first new solo recordings in over a decade, the all-star Back to Rio, which was met with great public and critical acclaim.  


1996 – "Live From Mars", a retrospective of songs and stories, appeared.