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The Byrds speak on

the reunion 1989



David Crosby - Deadhead 1989

Crosby recently reunited with fellow Byrds Roger McGuinn and Chris Hillman for a handful of concerts. They had so much fun that they're talking about making a record together.

[This story] starts off kinda grubby but it winds up good. Some unscrupulous people, and I use the words carefully, got hold of [Byrds co-founder] Michael Clarke. These are the same people that put Gene Clark on the road as The Byrds. I was unhappy about that, but it was marginally valid because at least he was a singer-songwriter and one of the people who started the band. It wasn't good, which was why I wasn't happy about it. It was quite bad, as a matter of fact. But it was marginally valid, in a certain way. You could find a way to justify it. These same people got hold of Michael, and he had fallen on hard times, and... he did it. They put him on the road as the Byrds.

Well, okay. If it doesn't have Roger McGuinn in it, it's not the Byrds. I don't care who else it's got, including me - if it doesn't have Roger McGuinn in it, it isn't the Byrds. He is the heart and soul of the Byrds - always has been, always will be. There isn't any question about that. I'm not belittling my contribution or Gene's or Christopher's, or even Michael's.

Roger is the central issue. It's the way he reads a song. He's the one who took those songs and made 'em feel like that. He has a certain rhythmic feel and a certain way of reading a song. A certain understanding... He's a brilliant guy, you know. He has a genuinely enormous talent. Then I had this horrible thought and checked it out, and I found out that they were going to try and copyright the name. These sleazeballs.

Crosby: Roger had held onto it for a while, but had let it slip, and so it was up for grabs. I said, "What if they copyright the name?" And they said, "Aw they wouldn't do that." I said, "I think they're going to. If they have a band on the road, they can do it. I said, "I don't want that to happen. Then we can't have it. I don't care if I own it at all, but I think it should be in Roger's hands."

Christopher agreed with me, and Roger agreed with me, and so I said, "Look, why don't we just beat 'em to the punch?" And they said okay. I was surprised. But we didn't do it through managers or, you know, third parties. I just said, "Hey look, let's be real. Let's just do it." So we got together. Here's where it gets good. Okay, the first confession is, I had forgotten how good Roger is. He's brilliant. He's better now than he was then. The last time I played with Chris, he was a kid. Now he's been through like three or four hit bands -