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The Byrds speak on

Clarence White



Chris Hillman - Hot Burritos, John Einarson, 2008

In hindsight I could have stayed and played with Clarence, who was a fabulous player, and probably made a hell of a good living, but the music The Byrds went on to make after that was pretty bad. You listen to the later Byrds with Clarence and it's so loud. The beauty of Clarence White was on 'Time Between' where he didn't use that pull-string gadget. He just played straight out of his amp. It was beautiful. His acoustic playing? Unbelievable. Gifted. But in The Byrds he fell into that loud rock thing and they were playing all the time out on the road. I don't think Clarence White's incredible gift was ever highlighted after he joined The Byrds. His playing on 'Notorious Byrd Brothers', before he joined, is beautiful.

Chris Hillman - Connect Savannah, Jim Reed, November 2008

Well, I personally went through it right up until the very end, when I thought it was time for me to leave (the Byrds). I wasn't sick of the songs, but I felt I was just spinning my wheels. My only regret is that I told Roger to hire Clarence White, and I only wound up doing one or two shows with him before I left in a bit of a stormy departure. It wasn't one of my better moments as a human being. We're all geniuses in hindsight. You know? I'll be 64 in a number of weeks, and I think now that all things happen for a reason. You're presented with choices.

Roger McGuinn - Barnes & Noble 2006

The next good part was the onstage fun I had with Clarence White when he was playing with us. He was like having a loaded machine gun -- we'd go out there and just kill the audience every time. Which was not always the case with the original lineup. We were a good studio band, and we made some good records, but the lack of experience in the business took its toll on the live performances. It was much better with Clarence. He was like a jazz musician, always improvising, and he had this thing about syncopation. He was just a genius at syncopating things. He was really exciting. I have an imaginary line if you're good you'll come up to, and he was always way over it.

Chris Hillman - ZigZag April 1973

I sort of grew up with Clarence. When I was in The Hillmen, we were always bumping into each other, but when I joined The Byrds I lost track of him for a couple of years. Then, around the end of ’66, I found him again, living way out of LA and playing in country groups in bars and things, playing electric guitar now. So we got him to help us on a couple of tracks. He played real good on them, too.