(An occasional series about the music that inspires me when I write, much of which ends up referenced in the Traveler books)
Roger McGuinn, Gene Clark, and Chris Hillman were three of the founding members of The Byrds.
(Click here to hear Chris Hillman explain how Miles Davis helped get The Byrds their first break)
The trio reunited in the late Seventies as McGuinn, Clark, Hillman, and released an album that has always been one of my favorites. Long-time fans who were looking to hear the signature Byrds sound probably were disappointed, as McGuinn, whose throaty tenor was the hallmark of that group, stayed pretty much in the background. Instead, Clark and the always-underrated Hillman payed homage to the new country rock sound popularized by the Eagles.
While this particular ensemble would not come close to achieving the success of musical cousins like Glenn Frey and Don Henley, they provided me with the most memorable concert experience I ever had.
McGuinn, Clark, Hillman toured in 1979 as the opening act for America, another group who were pretty much printing money by mixing pop, rock, and country. I went to the concert with a school chum named Steve Halberman.
Eric Clapton was playing in Omaha the next night, and every time a dark-haired slim fellow walked past, Steve and I joked that it must be Clapton.
We did not stop to consider how unlikely it was that if the guitar legend actually was present, he probably would not be sitting in the second balcony.
As the MCH set drew to a close, Steve saw something on the side of the stage that made him turn to me and cry “We need to get to the front!”
So we dashed to the main floor, just in time to watch Slow Hand himself stroll onto the stage and join the former Byrds in a rollicking jam on “Eight Miles High.”
Nothing against America, but their set was a total anticlimax after that. I don’t remember any of it.