BYRDWATCHER: A Field Guide to the Byrds of Los Angeles
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MUSICIANS ASSOCIATED WITH THE BYRDS

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Graham Nash

The New Christy Minstrels

New Riders of the Purple Sage

Nitty Gritty Dirt Band

John Nuese




Graham Nash

With Allan Clarke and Tony Hicks, Graham Nash formed the Hollies, one of the few truly great acts in the pop flank of the British Invasion. Their catchy songs and high harmonies created a string of terrific singles, including "Look Through Any Window," "Bus Stop," "Carrie-Anne," and "King Midas in Reverse." The best overview of the Nash years is 30th Anniversary Collection (EMI, 1993), which contains all the Nash-era As and Bs, plus post-Nash highlights through "The Air That I Breathe."
Nash left in 1968, looking for partners a bit less square and a bit more appreciative of his willingness to experiment (both with music and controlled substances). By the end of that year, he had teamed up with Crosby and Stills. Over the years, Nash provided that act with many of its most memorable (and most poppy) songs, including "Marrakesh Express," "Teach Your Children," and "Our House." Nash also recorded several LPs as a duo with David Crosby.
Here's a mini-discography of Nash's work outside of Crosby/Nash, CSN, and CSNY: With the Hollies: Stay with the Hollies (Parlophone, 1964); In the Hollies Style (Parlophone, 1964); The Hollies (Parlophone, 1965); Hear! Here! (Parlophone, 1966); Would You Believe (Parlophone, 1966); For Certain Because (Parlophone, 1966); Evolution (Parlophone, 1967); Butterfly (Parlophone, 1967). Solo: Songs for Beginners (Atlantic, 1971); Wild Tales (Atlantic, 1973); Earth & Sky (Capitol, 1980); and Innocent Eyes (Atlantic, 1986).
Graham Nash info can be found in cyberspace on the Hollies Home Page and on the Crosby, Stills & Nash Website. Nash also has a website for his photography side project, Nash Editions.


The New Christy Minstrels

The New Christy Minstrels, formed by Randy Sparks in 1961 and featuring an ever-changing roster of members, became one of the most successful pop-folk groups of the early '60s. Members included not only future Byrd Gene Clark, but also Barry McGuire (who would later hit big with his solo version of P.F. Sloan's "Eve of Destruction"); Bob Buchanan (who would join Gram Parsons in the International Submarine Band in 1967 and co-write the signature Parsons tune, "Hickory Wind"); Kenny Rogers (who would go on to country pop and made-for-TV superstardom); Larry Ramos (who later enjoyed success with the Association); and actress Karen Black (who would star in such classics as Airport '75 (1975), Burnt Offerings (1976), and It's Alive 3 (1987)).
Sparks and McGuire wrote "Green, Green," which would become a major hit in the summer of 1963. In June of 1963, after the recording of "Green, Green" but before it hit the charts, Sparks saw Gene Clark's band the Surf Riders playing Kingston Trio-style folk music. The Minstrels quickly recruited Clark, who sang on their LPs Merry Christmas (Columbia, 1963) and Land of Giants (Columbia, 1964) as well as on their hit song "Saturday Night."
(Around the time Clark joined, Jim McGuinn was also under consideration as a Minstrel. He might have joined up if Bobby Darin had not offered him a spot as accompanist.)
Clark remained with the Minstrels through many concerts, television appearances, and even a concert at the White House for new President Lyndon Johnson. Tired of the endless touring, Clark left the New Christy Minstrels soon after and went to LA to start a solo career.
In January 1964, Sparks started a second commercial folk aggregation called the Back Porch Majority, which was intended as sort of a farm team for the Christies. That group featured Mike Crumm, who was a Surf Rider with Gene Clark; Mike Clough, who was in Les Baxter's Balladeers with David Crosby; and John Denver, who would soon join the Chad Mitchell Trio and who later became a pop phenom. Later in '64, Sparks sold out his interest in the Minstrels for $2,500,000, which gives some idea of the group's popularity at its peak. Sparks later started a third group along similar lines, called the Green Grass Group. This group featured Larry Murray and, for two brief months in 1964, Chris Hillman.
The Minstrels continued to record throughout the '60s. Kenny Rogers was with the group from 1966 to 1967, when he left with Minstrel Mike Settle to start the First Edition. That group had a hit with "Just Dropped in to See What Condition My Condition Was In" in 1967.
The original Christy Minstrels were a group of blackfaced minstrel singers who crossed the country between 1842 and 1921, popularizing many Stephen Foster tunes. Later members included Al Jolson and Eddie Cantor. Other than the name, the Sparks combo of the early '60s had no connection with its predecessor.


New Riders of the Purple Sage

The New Riders of the Purple Sage began in 1969 as a side project in which Jerry Garcia of the Grateful Dead and old friend John "Marmaduke" Dawson could play country music, with Garcia on pedal steel. In time fellow Dead members Phil Lesh and Mickey Hart augmented this twosome, as did guitarist David Nelson, another old friend of Garcia.
Over the next two years, the New Riders transformed from a busman's holiday to a self-contained act, as other musicians replaced the Dead members. Dave Torbert came in for Lesh on bass, and Spencer Dryden, formerly of the Jefferson Airplane, took over for Hart on drums. Finally, after recording their first LP, New Riders of the Purple Sage (Columbia, 1971), even Garcia was replaced, by steel guitarist Buddy Cage. Through this period, the New Riders often opened for the Dead.
The New Riders released five albums before 1974, when Skip Battin replaced Torbert. The band's early support tapered off with more personnel shifts, but they continued to release albums into the '80s.


Nitty Gritty Dirt Band

Singer/guitarist Jeff Hanna, multi-instrumentalist John McEuen, and guitarist Jimmie Fadden comprise the core of the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band. These three young musicians and several others (including, briefly, Jackson Browne) started out as a country-flavored folk-pop outfit in 1967, with their debut single, "Buy For Me the Rain." Later singles were less successful, until their version of Jerry Jeff Walker's "Mr. Bojangles" made the Top Ten in 1971.
After several other light hits, the band began to explore its country roots, first with a cover of the Hank Williams standard, "Jambalaya," (1971) and then with the landmark three-record set, Will the Circle Be Unbroken (United Artists, 1972). On Circle, the young long-hairs of the Dirt Band accompanied older luminaries like Maybelle Carter, Roy Acuff, Doc Watson, Earl Scruggs, Jimmy Martin and Merle Travis on a set of country standards, helping to heal the generational rift that had emerged in country music during the 1960s.
Subsequent efforts were less successful. The group officially shortened their name to the Dirt Band in 1976, with little impact on their fortunes.
In the late 1980s, the band (with its full name restored) enjoyed a creative and commercial renaissance. In 1989, they released Will the Circle Be Unbroken, Vol. Two (Universal/MCA, 1989). This time, they drew a larger circle, including some old masters like Acuff, Scruggs, and Johnny Cash; progressive country singers like Emmylou Harris, mainstream country pop artists like John Denver and Michael Martin Murphey; and country-tinged rockers like John Hiatt and Levon Helm. Not the least among the guests are Chris Hillman and Roger McGuinn, who reprise Bob Dylan's "You Ain't Going Nowhere."
For more on the NGDB, check out this "officially supported, independently maintained" Nitty Gritty Dirt Band website.


John Nuese

Guitarist and songwriter John Nuese was in a band called "The Trolls" in 1965. (The Trolls featured not only Nuese, but also Lowell "Banana" Levenger, a guitarist and keyboardist who was a founding member of the Youngbloods, and bassist Michael Kane, who followed Levenger into the Youngbloods in 1971).
Later that year, Nuese fell in with Gram Parsons at Harvard, where they formed Gram Parsons and the Like. The Like became the International Submarine Band, and gradually focused on country music, which Nuese had reintroduced to Parsons. Nuese stuck with Parsons in the second version of the ISB, who recorded Safe at Home (LHI, 1968).


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Welcome | News | LPs | History | Members | Spinoffs | Related | Reference | Sanctuary | About | NEXT SECTION

Artists Covered | Other Influences | Associates | Musicians Influenced | Byrd/Not a Byrd | NEXT CHAPTER

A - Bro | Bru - Bu | C | Da - Di | Do - E | F | G | H - J | K - Lea | Lev - Ma | Me - Mu | N | O - Pa | Pe - Q | Ra - Ri | Ro - Ru | S | T - V | W - Z | NEXT PAGE






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