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Music Icon Roger McGuinn Performs at App Theatre September 3; Rock & Roll Hall of Fame Member, Founder of The Byrds Makes ATHC Debut

Co-founder of The Byrds, Roger McGuin

The Appalachian Theatre of the High Country (ATHC) resumes live programming for the first time since March 2020 when it reopens its doors to the general public at 7:30 p.m. on Friday, September 3 with music legend Roger McGuinn taking to the ATHC stage. The concert is sponsored by Allen Wealth Management. 

As a co-founder of The Byrds, McGuinn is firmly established as an indisputable industry icon. From his signature 12‐string Rickenbacker sound, to his instantly recognizable vocals on hits like “Turn, Turn, Turn” and “Mr. Tambourine Man,” Roger McGuinn didn’t just make music; he made history. Rolling Stone magazine said, “Music would be a very different place if it hadn’t been for Roger McGuinn.”

At their 1991 induction into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, Eagles founder Don Henley said of The Byrds, “The ever-evolving pioneers of rock and roll’s expansion into new, psychedelic sounds. Hungry to push the boundaries of popular music, The Byrds made music so inventive that they needed new genres. Their lyrical insights and groundbreaking innovation yielded songs that spoke to the present while pushing toward the future.”

According to writer and renowned rock scribe Bud Scoppa, this is Roger McGuinn’s succinct explanation of The Byrds’ bold, brainy take on rock & roll:

“It was Dylan meets the Beatles.”

True enough, Scoppa wrote. “What the Byrds pulled off with 1965’s landmark Mr. Tambourine Man was a resonant synthesis of the Beatles’ charged pro forma precision and Dylan’s mythopoeic incantations. It turned out to be a startlingly perfect fit, inspiring much that has followed, from their mentors’ subsequent Rubber Soul and Blonde On Blonde to the work of such disparate inheritors as Tom Petty, R.E.M., U2, and Crowded House.”

Jim McGuinn, later known as Roger, was already a veteran of the New York and Los Angeles music scenes when he co-founded the group that would become the Byrds with Gene Clark and David Crosby in 1964. Prior to forming the Byrds, Roger toured and performed with the Limeliters, Chad Mitchell Trio and Bobby Darin as a guitarist and banjo player. He was also the musical director on the album, “Judy Collins #3.” 

McGuinn, a Chicago native, studied at the Old Town School of Folk Music and was active on Chicago’s folk scene. Within a few weeks of finishing high school, he was in California with the Limeliters, playing guitar and banjo on their album “Tonight: In Person.” He then toured with the Chad Mitchell Trio and recorded on their albums: “Mighty Day on Campus” and “The Chad Mitchell Trio at the Bitter End.”

He toured with singer Bobby Darin, and then moved to New York to work for Darin’s publishing company, in the fabled Brill Building as a songwriter. He and Frank Gari co-wrote the song “Beach Ball” and performed it with Darin, as the City Surfers, July 1963.

McGuinn heard the Beatles for the first time at the Brill Building, and began adding a Beatle beat to his favorite folk songs in the coffee houses of Greenwich Village. His experimental musical style didn’t please the folk purists, so he moved to Los Angeles to work at the Troubadour opening for Hoyt Axton. It was there that Gene Clark approached Roger with an appreciation for his unusual musical blend. They joined their talents and began writing songs in the front room of the Troubadour, then called the “Folk Den.”

David Crosby walked in one day and joined them with his unique concepts of harmony. That third voice completed the underpinnings of one of the most influential bands of the ’60s. Within a few months, McGuinn, Clark & Crosby asked conga player Michael Clarke to join them as a drummer because he looked like two of the Rolling Stones. Mandolin player Chris Hillman was tapped to be the bass player. During a Thanksgiving dinner the band settled on the name “Byrds.” Columbia Records signed The Byrds in January, 1965 and released their number one hit, “Mr. Tambourine Man.”  In 1973, McGuinn disbanded the Byrds and subsequently made five solo albums for Columbia Records.

Tickets are $35 per person. For more information about the artist and admission policies, please visit the theatre’s website at www.apptheatre.org. Tickets are currently on sale to ATHC donor members and to the general public.  

The Appalachian Theatre is committed to the health and safety of our community and will continue to follow the guidance of health and governmental officials in the development and implementation of COVID related policies. 

Tickets and memberships are available on the theatre’s website at www.apptheatre.org.

Appalachian Theatre reopens its doors to the general public at 7:30 p.m. on Friday, September 3 with music legend Roger McGuinn.