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The Byrds speak on
Laramy Smith in an e-mail 2010
PEOPLE, here is the scoop.
David Crosby - Byrdwatcher 1998
I really liked Gene a lot, man, he was a good guy. It was very sad. I was sad that he died, I was sad about how he died. Same thing got him that almost got me. And he had been warned, you know. They told him that if he drank anymore, he would kill himself. And I think he knew that, and I think he just poured down a bottle on purpose. And I find that very distressing. He was an enormously talented guy. And a sweet guy, nice guy. And that's all.
You know, it might be age... I don't really think so.
I think (the pressure) it had to do with him being very much a product of
a huge family in Missouri.
Roger McGuinn - Vincent Flanders 1970
Gene Clark is earlier in the picture, right? Well, it was a combination of things. David was sort of riding and hounding him. David had a better background in the English language, sciences, mathematics, and other things. He took advantage of those things to make Gene feel inferior. Gene is really an intelligent person, but he's not well educated. He's a nice guy and he's a bright cat really -- underneath it -- but he's hung up and awkward and like a country boy -- you know what I mean? Like he's not really a city slicker. And Crosby like took advantage of his country background, of Gene's country background, and sort of hounded him into giving up the guitar, in the beginning so David would get to play it.
Chris Hillman - Musicangle 2004
David Crosby - Musicangle 2004
I think he (Gene Clark) was way ahead of his time. His changes. He didn't know the rules so he just wrote what he felt and he didn't know the rules musically or grammatically or any kind- he had no idea what the rules were, so he just wrote exactly what he felt, and I think he had a freedom about it that produced incredible music.
Yea he was a good singer.... I think Roger was better. Roger was a very good story teller.
Other people were telling him he could be the next Elvis and that he was... you know, that he didn't... the standard thing...the same shit that fucking Yoko whispered in John's ear 'you don't need those guys, you're a star'. Jesus Christ, think about it. The two guys who could have had any two women on earth...... My god!!! And Gene was afraid of airplanes. We were going to a gig, we all got on the airplane he was very very nervous, he'd probably gotten himself chemically enhanced before he got on and he was sitting there and he too high or whatever it was, he panicked and got off the plane. And Roger's response was 'if you can't fly, you can't be a Byrd.'
Roger Mc Guinn - Star Magazine 1999
Gene didn't talk much about his
Chris Hillman - Star Magazine 1999
He never talked to me very much about his younger days.
Gene was very confident singing and writing at the onset. However, his confidence wavered a bit as we became more popular.
David Crosby - Guitar Player Magazine
Roger, Christopher and I were the essential parts. When Gene left, it was a great loss as a writer but not so much as a singer or performer.
Roger McGuinn - Johnny Rogan Timless Flyght
Gene Clark didn't really know how to keep time at all, at all. He was playing tambourine: Cah, Cah, Taw! He was just spastic on the tambourine. I'm glad he left, actually. I'm glad everybody left.
David Crosby - CS&N Biography 1984
I had to (play rhythm guitar) because Gene just couldn't keep time, couldn't play on the beat. I'd been playing rhythm guitar in coffeehouse quite awhile, so it was natural for me. We needed someone to keep the beat, because Michael (Clarke) barely knew how to play drums.
I had nothing against Gene personally, and never set out to hurt him. I liked him a lot. But he couldn't keep a beat. His tambourine playning was driving me crazy.
David Crosby - CD Liner Notes 1996
Gene did try to emulate the Beatles and he would try to play folk changes. His songs had good chord structures. You'll notice that they never had just three chords, there were several chords involved, and they were good chord structures with good melody. Gene had a pretty good way of stringing the melody across chords.
Chris Hillman - Ben Fong Torres Book 2005
Just give you an example of what Gene had to go through, the only thing that kept Crosby at bay was Gene's physical size. When Gene left and I started singing, I'll never forget Crosby turning to me, we were doing a vocal session, and saying to me, 'If you're going to sing with us, you have to sing in tune'. David had that thing about him. If anybody threatened him or he perceived it as a threat, he would lash out. And David Crosby was lucky that none of us popped him. He was really asking for it. It was the most different set of people with diverse backgrounds you could find, that was the five of us.
Chris Hillman - Full Circle Magazine 1991
He was a friend of mine
Michael Clarke - Full Circle Magazine 1991
Wild men who caught and sang the sun in flight,
As you well know, Gene and I were quite close. For 21
years he was like a brother to me.
John York - Bill Wasserzieher 1993
I guess I met Gene Clark first when I was playing with the Mamas and Papas (1967). Gene needed a band to play some shows so he got me and Clarence White and Eddie Hoh on drums. I only remember us playing a few shows. I know we played a lot of Gene's songs and I remember thinking they were really good. But we played a lot of things. There was one night at the Whiskey when Gene didn't feel like he was connecting with the audience, so after the first three numbers we just played blues the whole night.
(In the 1980s), Phil Seymour, who's a friend, was playing drums for Carla Olson in the Textones and they were at the Palomino Club. Phil wanted me to come down and Gene Clark and Michael Clarke were there. They said they were putting together a tribute band and they needed one more Byrd. They asked will you do it, and I said sure. They had Rick Danko, Richard Manuel, Blondie Chaplin and Rick Roberts, and later on there were personnel changes and Nicky Hopkins joined. We started out as Tribute to the Byrds but some of the promoters would just put the Byrds in their ads.
(We played a lot) through 1985, 1986, 1987 and even later, excepts when Gene wasn't well. To show you what kind of guy he was, we had a two week gig in Reno, Nevada and we all thought he was really sick. We wanted him to cancel the shows but he wouldn't do it. The day we got home he went into the hospital and had his stomach operation. Later on Gene and I worked as a duo in 1989.