John Einarson (johneinarson) Sat 23 Apr 05 16:46
Thanks Steve. Jump in when the time is right for you. I am always amazed at the number of Gene Clark fans (for lack of a better word, but those who appreciate Gene's body of work) there are.
Low and popular (rik) Sat 23 Apr 05 22:00
I just want to mention that I saw Gene with the Gosdin Brothers at the Ash Grove back in 67 or 68, and went right out and bought a copy of "Sounds of Goodbye", which I have pretty much worn through. They did some Everly Bros stuff that was stunning.
John Einarson (johneinarson) Sun 24 Apr 05 06:12
That would have been in the spring of 1967 at the Ash Grove, likely March, when Gene, Clarence White, John York and Eddie Hoh performed with Vern and Rex Gosdin to promote Gene's debut solo album recorded with the Gosdins. That lineup only did a couple of gigs. Sounds of Goodbye came out in 1968 and is a great album now available on CD with a ton of bonus tracks from Big Beat Records. Interesting to note that Gene's debut solo album was never intended to be a co-billing with the Gosdin Brothers until much later in the sessions. Producer Larry Marks steered much of the album through and said it was a solo album but when he left the sessions with only a few tracks left to finish, Gary Usher and Jim Dickson finished it up and it was Dickson who elevated Vern and Rex to co-billing status. The Gosdin Brothers were not involved in that album at all when I was there, insists Larry Marks, who produced much of the album. I knew them, but I was doing a Gene Clark solo album, thats all, and thats the way it would have finished if I had stuck around to the end. Even if they had done the singing on it, which was great, it wouldnt have been 'Gene Clark with the Gosdin Brothers'. It was Genes album. Dickson might have thought it was good marketing for both artists. Gene was fairly dependent on Jim. Unfortunately the co-billing confused record buyers who weren't sure it was, in fact, Gene's solo debut.
Low and popular (rik) Sun 24 Apr 05 07:41
The show itself was a trio gig, billing aside. They sounded like a band, and they looked like a band. I guess Gene's natural shyness had him using them for a comfort zone. The entire night was three-part harmonies, and it knocked me out. It was also the first time I's ever seen Clarence with a Tele. Prior to that, he'd simply been that amazing flatpicker from the Kentucky Colonels, who played straight bluegrass. And this was pre B- bender. I can see how the co-billing might have been bad marketing, but it reflected what I saw on stage. I don't remember waiting six months to buy the album. was it already in the can? Come to think of it, they weren't exactly co- billed. They were on the second line (..."with the Gosdin Brothes") and had no first names. But they were full equals on stage, and there was a buzz around the Ash Grove/Troubadour axis that maybe Gene had finally pulled it together.
John Einarson (johneinarson) Sun 24 Apr 05 10:16
The period between Gene's leaving the Byrds (February/March 1966) and hooking up with Douglas Dillard (June 1968) remains particularly fascinating to Genophiles because so much mystery surrounds it. In that 2-year period he only performed a handful of times (including, along with the set you witnessed at the Ash Grove, an earlier stint at the Whisky in June 1966 and a rare solo set on acoustic guitar in December 1966 at the Santa Monica Civic Center opening for the Count V, Standells, Seeds, Turtles, and Love) and rejoined the Byrds twice (once to fill in for an ailing Crosby in September 1966 and later to replace Crosby, albeit briefly, in October 1967). Yet despite what appeared to be a stalled solo career he was writing prolifically and later remarked that the period represented one of his most creative in terms of churning out songs (he claimed to have a closet full of tapes and acetates and friends recall him recording demos frequently, manager Jim Dickson stating that they couldn't keep up with all his demos). Unfortunately little from that time exists today outsude of private hands other than the debut album with the Gosdins, an unreleased single (The French Girl/Only Colombe), and a couple of unfinished tracks with ex-Fugitives Larry (Laramy) Smith and Wayne Bruns plus Richard 'Aaron' Vandervordt. Myth surrounds the eight Gene Clark Sings For You tracks cut in mid 1967, the mistaken assumption being this was an unreleased second solo album. But for an artist trying to launch a solo career during those two years, Gene seemed to be doing everything wrong.
from JAMES DUSEWICZ (tnf) Sun 24 Apr 05 17:51
James Dusewicz writes: To quote Gene Clark from the 1984 Holger Peterson unpublished interview on pg. 180, last paragraph thereof. MR. TAMBORINE MAN: "Part of The Byrds Reunion Album is actually, me and David Crosby and Neil Young and different assortments of people on it". Has any of the principals corroborated this? When a member of Rustlist contacted Chris Hillman he said Neil was not on the album. That member sent queries out to Crosby and McGuinn that are still waiting to be answered. This album(highly underrated) was actually my first Byrds album vinyl purchase. Boy was I surprised! James Dusewicz
John Einarson (johneinarson) Mon 25 Apr 05 10:05
Memories fade over time, James. Not sure if anyone can corroborate this now (and they may not want to, that's their perogative). With that album there were so few times when the 5 Byrds were all present together that they may not have known who was and wasn't contributing. It was a very piecemeal album to make.
Steve Silberman (digaman) Mon 25 Apr 05 10:21
Since <croz> produced the album -- to greater and lesser effect -- maybe he remembers. I have invited him here.
Low and popular (rik) Mon 25 Apr 05 10:22
Ahh, the miracle of multitracking. I once played rhythm guitar for Mike Bloomfield, but I never met him.
Steve Silberman (digaman) Mon 25 Apr 05 11:06
John, one of the things that I wanted to ask you is, how much do you think that Gene's lack of consistent management impaired his career? Obviously, somebody like Neil has been packaged and handled very well for decades now, giving him both a tremendous amount of creative freedom and a solid image in the marketplace that has enabled him to surf everything from the singer-songwriter era to grunge, and always come out on top.
John Einarson (johneinarson) Mon 25 Apr 05 11:52
I think Gene suffered from a lack of consistent management, Steve. Unlike Neil Young who has always had Elliot Roberts in his corner allowing him to focus on the artistic/creative side without worrying about the business, Gene never had that. He lacked any business acumen as well as never having someone out there always fighting for him in the music business. There is no doubt that Gene needed direction and was not, by most accounts, an easy guy to give direct to but his career suffered as a result. For example, when he left the Byrds (the official announcement was made in March 1966) he should have been ushered into a studio as soon as possible to get a single rush-released to capitalize on the attention from the split and to keep his name at the attention of the record-buying public as well as Byrds fans. Instead, his debut solo single, Echoes, appeared in mid December 1966, with the album following in February (by then he was almost forgotten). Then he didn't release another album for a year and a half! If he had strong management behind him there would have been some momentum building. If you look at his recorded output after leaving the Byrds it's erratic - different labels, gaps between releases, different collaborations, an inconsistent style from album to album. While these qualities certainly rank him as eclectic they didn't encourage a consistent career. And Gene wanted his records to succeed and was deeply disappointed when each one failed. But he never really wanted to play the game, namely to become a public personality, tour, do interviews, release recordings at regular intervals. Gene just couldn't do that. Perhaps strong, consistent management could have dealt with that. Its not like Neil's a public personality. I think Neil and Gene had a lot in common.
Steve Silberman (digaman) Mon 25 Apr 05 15:27
Thanks, John. How much do you think Gene's influence has percolated outward into the current musical landscape? Obviously, the Byrds as a whole, as a signature sound, is now inextricably woven into pop music. But what about Gene's particular influence? How much did his other projects, such as Dillard & Clark, have an effect on the evolution of so-called country rock? Can you point to any bands today in which you hear traces of Gene's sound, or have any living musicians contacted you since the book came out to tell you how much Gene meant to them?
John Einarson (johneinarson) Mon 25 Apr 05 15:53
There have been three Gene Clark tribute compilations released in the last couple of years by young artists who have been inspired by Gene's body of work. Most are alt. country/indie outfits like The Kennedys, Steve Wynn, Buddy Woodward, Sid Griffin, but some are well known like John Jorgenson (hotshot guitarist in the Desert Rose Band), Nashville singer/songwriter Bill Lloyd, and Carla Olson (one CD was recorded by Australian artists). Many of the alt. country recording artists today like Mark Olson and Victoria Williams cite Gene's direct influence on them. As Victoria Williams told me, "The Fantastic Expedition of Dillard & Clark was a great record! I think we learned every song on that album. When I started playing music in Louisiana we did Dillard & Clark songs, and Gene Clarks songs, and, of course, Gram Parsons. They sort of gave me that inspiration to think, Well Ill write songs too then. I got to meet Gene Clark when I first moved to California. He was so wonderful. He was one of these people whose music I loved back in Louisiana. I met him at the Whisky. I was in awe of him." Adds Mark Olson, When you listened to Gene Clark, you realized you were listening to someone who could really sing and write well. For me, listening to that first Dillard & Clark album shoved me more in the folk direction. There is no doubting the influence Dillard & Clark had on the evolution of country rock in the latter 60s to early 70s (pre-Eagles). When I was researching and writing my book "Desperados: The Roots of Country Rock" so many of the pioneers of that genre declare Dillard & Clark to be the most authentic country-rock amalgamation of all the artists attempting that merger at the time. Certainly Chris Hillman insists that Dillard & Clark were far more innovative and influential at the time than the Flying Burrito Brothers (and insists Gene was a far better songwriter than Gram Parsons), as does Rusty Young from Poco, Mike Nesmith, and John McEuen from the Dirt Band, just to name a few. Dillard & Clark are an important cog in that wheel of what would become commercially acceptable by the mid 70s with the Eagles. Don't forget that founding Eagle Bernie Leadon was in Dillard & Clark before the Burritos and learned songwriting from Gene. While I've not been contacted directly by any current recording artists, that doesn't mean Gene's influence isn't still felt. I know that he is held in high esteem in the UK and younger bands like Teenage Fanclub have covered his songs. But more than just his existing songs, Gene's poetry and melancholy style remain an influence on songwriters today. Anybody who cites the Byrds as an influence knows about Gene's influence. What is needed is a high-profile Gene Clark tribute CD or concert where some of those big name artists who revere Gene step up to the plate and pay tribute.
Steve Silberman (digaman) Mon 25 Apr 05 16:18
Wonderful answer, John. For the sake of the fans here who may not have read your book yet (Go get it!), could you please clarify Gene's role in the composition of 8 Miles High?
John Einarson (johneinarson) Mon 25 Apr 05 17:09
Thanks Steve. Gene was inspired to compose Eight Miles High following the Byrds' hasty tour of England in August 1965. The band did not go over well and were lambasted by most of the press. In their defence, the five Byrds were exhausted from a rigorous US tour and suffering from colds/flu. Back in the US in November, the Byrds were opening for the Rolling Stones in Pittsburgh when Gene and Brian Jones got together for dinner at their hotel and talked about that ill-fated Byrds UK tour. The germ of a song idea was planted in Gene's mind based on his conversation with Brian (Gene credited Brian for assisting with the genesis of the song in an interview once) and, back out on the road, he began developing the lyrics and chords. I had an idea for some lyrics, stated Gene in a later interview, and wrote them on a piece of paper during the conversation with Brian. Later on I found them in my jacket pocket on the tour bus. I took my guitar and started making up a melody for it. The initial idea was discussed on the plane over the Atlantic on our trip to England, but the actual writing of it started on a tour with the Stones when we were back in the States. Gene played the rough composition to David (Crosby) and Roger (McGuinn) who then contributed to its completion, David with the line "Rain grey town known for its sound" and Roger the distinctive Ravi Shankar/John Coltrane-inspired guitar figure that would later be termed "raga rock", a precursor to acid/psychedelic rock. The Byrds had been listening to nothing else other than Shankar and Coltrane in their minibus on the road. So the basic song (chords, lyrics) came from Gene describing their flight (hence the eight miles high reference although it was closer to six miles), landing, arrival in London, and culture shock the Byrds experienced. David added a line, Roger the unique guitar part and arrangement. So when the song was released, the credits were shared by all three equally (they still share the royalties equally). Gene acknowledged in several interviews that Eight Miles High represented the pinnacle of his Byrds songwriting experience because it was a collaboration between all three. David and Roger both agreed in interviews with me. It was my favorite moment, says David. It was when we actually started to come into our own. The band cut two versions, one in late December at RCA studios and another in January at Columbia studios (ultimately the single version). Fans remain divided over which is the best version. Both have their merits (and both are on the reissued Fifth Dimension album if you want to compare them the RCA version is a little more urgent) Unfortunately when the single was released in March 1966 after Gene had already left the band, the title made some radio programmers uneasy. To them the high implied drugs, despite insistence from the group that it was about a plane ride. Many radio stations refused to play it and influential programming service Bill Gavins Record Report banned the record. Why such an incredibly innovative record was kept out of the top ten (it should have been #1) remains a travesty but that was the tenor of the times. Eight Miles High is a milestone in rock musics evolution pointing the way toward psychedelic rock a full year before. Since Genes death, the credits have been altered on subsequent Byrds releases to read McGuinn, Crosby, Clark, a move that has drawn ire from Clark associates.
from GENE HARROLD (tnf) Mon 25 Apr 05 18:41
Gene Harrold writes: Hi John. Did you ask the surviving Byrds why Gene was left out of the Byrds box set sessions? I know there was tension due to the court case about the ownership of the Byrds' name... Gene had used it for his Byrds 'tribute' tour but he had shut it down by that time.. Just seems awfully petty to have left Clark out and what a lost opportunity!! Thanks, Gene Harrold
Steve Silberman (digaman) Mon 25 Apr 05 18:43
> Why such an incredibly innovative record was kept out of the top ten (it should have been #1) remains a travesty but that was the tenor of the times. And increasingly the tenor of ours, courtesy of the Republicans who'd rather have us chattering about "wardrobe malfunctions" rather than Iraq. But that's another story. As outrageous as that Gavin tale is, I always found the Byrds' insistence that the song was not a double entendre about drugs to be somewhat disingenuous. They were certainly 200 miles high during that time period often enough -- I find it hard to believe that the double meaning didn't at least cross their minds, even if the fact that the lyrics are a perfect description of acid anomie, as well as travellers' anomie, was a propitious accident. Interesting footnote: The music of Ravi Shankar entered the scene when Jim Dickson turned Crosby onto it, and it was Crosby who got George Harrison into it. And the rest is history, as they say. That's wild about Brian Jones. I suppose the Jones/Clark parallels don't stop there?
Steve Silberman (digaman) Mon 25 Apr 05 18:44
Sorry, an extra "rather" in there.
John Einarson (johneinarson) Mon 25 Apr 05 19:52
The three Byrds at the time in 1990 - McGuinn, Crosby and Hillman - were mad at Gene and Michael for both doing their Byrds tribute shows and decided not to include them in the sessions for the new tracks on the box set. That was according to Chris Hillman. In retrospect he regrets that decision. At the time, though, it was a case of who has the right to use the Byrds name, not necessarily the legal right (as Michael won it in court, although David owns it now) but the moral right. The three believed that latter belonged to them. In court Gene was ruled the "lesser Byrd"; he turned that into a persona as Lester Byrd. So many vintage bands have run afoul of the name game with certain members going out under the collective banner. Sad. I agree, Steve, that the "high" was likely a double entendre and an hip in joke played by the Byrds that, regretably, backfired.
Steve Silberman (digaman) Mon 25 Apr 05 23:18
John, who was the best interview for the book? Who was totally unlike you expected? Who got away?
John Einarson (johneinarson) Tue 26 Apr 05 06:05
Good question, Steve. Actually I've got to go with David Crosby as the best and most unexpected interview. I've never interviewed David before although we've exchange the odd email. But when I contacted him regarding the Gene Clark book he made himself available for an in-person interview and arranged for me to meet up with him backstage between soundcheck and concert time when CSN played a show in Sioux Falls, South Dakota in April 2003 (it's about an 8-hour drive south for me in Winnipeg). When I met him backstage he was most gracious and accommodating allowing me as much time as necessary to ask him about his relationship with Gene. We conducted the session in his private dressing room. At one point he got teary-eyed recalling anecdotes about Gene and the other Byrds. Clearly there was and remains a strong emotional bond. The interview was honest, insightful and revealing. David was nothing like what I had expected. We met up again later that summer when CSN came to Winnipeg and once again he was extremely open and accessible. A funny (well, maybe not so funny) aside to my Sioux Falls interview with David was that I had been having the odd gall bladder attack in recent months and had arranged with my doctor to have my gall bladder removed in May. But just prior to my interview with David I felt an attack coming on (anxiety can also affect it and I was anxious over interviewing David) but I gamely went ahead with the interview. Despite a redder than usual face I don't think David had any inkling I was in any discomfort. It was a mild one but, nonetheless, I wasn't going to pass up what could potentially (I didn't know about the CSN Winnipeg date at the time, it had not been announced) be my only interview with David Crosby. I don't usually do the "fan" thing when conducting interviews because it crosses the line between professional journalism and fandom. But I did bring along my copy of David's autobiography and following the conclusion of our interview I asked him to sign it. He graciously did so. What I found was that everyone I contacted was open to discussing Gene. There were few roadblocks. I was fortunate to get access to his closest brothers and sisters as well as his two sons, ex-wife and close personal friends, besides the usual music associates. That added a whole new dimension to Gene's story. I would love to have interviewed Bob Dylan to glean his thoughts on the impact the Byrds, and in particular Gene, had on his career but Bob doesn't do interviews. David Geffen might have been interesting but I doubt he would take the time to discuss Gene given their relationship. I would have liked more from Leon Russell but he was recovering and not in the best of health so I took what I could get. Other than that everyone was great.
John Einarson (johneinarson) Tue 26 Apr 05 06:29
Back to your previous point, Steve, about Gene Clark and Brian Jones, the two do, indeed, have some common threads in terms of their careers. Both were among the first to ever leave a top echelon band while that band was still at the top (Gene probably being the first to do so), both were founding members and integral driving forces in their respective groups getting off the ground yet pushed aside as success came, and both left because of power struggles within their groups that left them out on the side. And both died tragically due to excesses.
Darrell Jonsson (jonsson) Tue 26 Apr 05 10:46
The distribution of G.Clarks music seems a little uneven, at least that was my impression as an emerging member of the record buying public in the early 70s. I likely would of bought more of his work, had it had shelf space in the record stores in Alaska and California where I was living during the time. Was Clark better distributed elsewhere, Canada, the U.S. South, UK...?
Darrell Jonsson (jonsson) Tue 26 Apr 05 10:47
Another question what is that 1971 mini-reunion of the Byrds you refer to earlier? Where did those tracks land up?
John Einarson (johneinarson) Tue 26 Apr 05 12:24
The distribution of Gene's recorded output post Byrds was definitely uneven. Dillard & Clark was a groundbreaking group yet never achieved a commercial breakthrough and Gene's White Light album sold poorly despite critical praise. Roadmaster was abandoned by A&M before sessions were completed. No Other was given virtually no promotional budget and left to twist in the wind. After that he was on smaller labels (with the exception, of course, of McGuinn, Clark & Hillman). Consider it from the perspective of a record label, though. Here was an artists, albeit an amazingly gifted songwriter, who doesn't tour, won't fly, doesn't like doing interviews and, in fact, is uncomfortable in front of people whether performing or otherwise. He had not enjoyed a hit record under his own name thus had limited name recognition and releases albums stylistically different from the one before. In addition he can be reclusive, reluctant, moody and erratic in terms of behaviour. It was a big gamble dealing with him in terms of the music business, not the artistic side. No wonder distribution was spotty. His albums barely sold beyond the faith few, despite critical accolades. In 1970 and 1971, Jim Dickson managed to recruit the other 4 Byrds to back Gene on a proposed single: "She's The Kind Of Girl" and "One In a Hundred". Not all of them were in the studio at the same time, although 4 of 5 were present at one session. The two songs ended up on the Roadmaster album released in the Netherlands and more recently on the UK compilation Flying High. It's too bad the single was never released as the two tracks are fabulous. More Byrds-like than anything on the 1973 reunion album.
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