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The Byrds speak on
David Crosby - Goldmine 1995:
My brother loved jazz, and played drums and bass, and turned me on to late-'50s jazz, when it was Gerry Mulligan, Chet Baker, Dave Brubeck. That era. When other people were all excited about Elvis, I was excited about Brubeck. That progressed, quite naturally, to John Coltrane. The first time I heard "My Favorite Things," I thought I had died and gone to heaven.
I'll tell you about Coltrane. When I was being a folkie in Chicago, my friend Clem was going with this little German hooker who was extremely popular on the South Side of town, who stood about 4-feet-2, very blonde, named "the Dutchess." She took us down to a famous black jazz club called McKee's.
At that time, Coltrane had two bass players in the band: Reggie Workman and Jimmy Garrison, with McCoy Tyner playing piano, and Elvin Jones playing drums. They would get up there and play a song. Per set. First they'd play the song ensemble, then 'Trane would start off, blow the most incredible solo, and walk off the stage. Then it was McCoy's turn. McCoy Tyner has been a major inspiration to me, because of the chords he had to think up in order to leave room for somebody as wild as Coltrane. Then when McCoy got done, Workman and Garrison had a conversation between two basses. Then it was Elvin Jones' turn. At that time, Elvin was probably the most single powerful drummer there was. Unamplified, in a small room like that, he could paste you against the back wall. Which is what he proceeded to do.
I had ingested every possible form of chemical alteration that I could lay my hands on for this event, so I was in a susceptible state. Elvin drove me out of my chair, into the aisle, back to the back wall, and finally into the men's room. I'm leaning against this awful vomit-green tile, trying to cool my fevered brow - just come down enough where I could maintain. And the door to the room goes WHAM!, and, "SWEEEEEEEEwulllllululullulbraallllalala..." [imitating Coltrane soloing] - is 'Trane. I slid down the wall, and melted in a puddle on the floor of that john. He didn't even know I was in there. He had never stopped playing his solo. He was still playing, walking around the club, and walked in there 'cause the acoustics were good. And he was at full burn. He melted me in a puddle. That experience is burned in my brain.
Coltrane affected me very strongly. I remember another funny Coltrane story, was when I was programming Africa/Brass into McGuinn's head, playing it and playing it, driving around in this Winnebago with Bo Diddley, the We Five, and Paul Revade and the Rear Doors [sic]. We couldn't smoke joints on the regular bus, so we had our own little Winnebago. This will tell you just how blasted we were: We were playing Coltrane, and we pulled up to this train crossing, and a whole trainload of coal went across it. And we all just sat there going, "Wowww. Cosmic."
Chris Hillman - Connect Savannah, Jim Reed, November 2008
A lot of folks don't know that Miles Davis actually helped us get the first session. He called up Goddard Lieberson who was running Columbia at the time, and a very good guy, and he said, (attempting Davis' famed raspy growl) "sign those guys!" (laughs) See, late at night, when the Byrds would rehearse, we'd have all kinds of people come down and hang out. Folks like Lenny Bruce would be there watching us practice. We had one foot in the beatnik Bohemia era that came along before hippies, when people like Marlon Brando and Lloyd Bridges would pal around and show up out of the blue. It was very exciting to be involved in those different scenes.