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

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Phil Ochs

Carla Olson

Joe Osborn

Earl Palmer

Van Dyke Parks

Gary Paxton




Phil Ochs

In 1964, just when Beatlemania was ending the folk boom and Dylan was abandoning topical songs, Phil Ochs released All the News That's Fit to Sing (Elektra, 1964). The first of his albums, it was full of direct political broadsides about the war in Viet Nam and the civil rights movement at home. Over the next six years, his LPs (including one with former Byrd Kevin Kelley on drums) became more introspective until finally, in the '70s, writer's block stymied Ochs. In 1976, overwhelmed by depression, Ochs, only 35 years old, took his own life. His career highlights can be found on There But For Fortune (Elektra, 1989).


Carla Olson

Singer Carla Olson got her start in the late '70s with Austin-based punk band the Violators. With fellow Violator Kathy Valentine, she moved to LA in 1980 and started the Textones. Valentine left to join the Go-Gos on the eve of their 1981 debut, but Olson kept the band going. Adding power popper/Dwight Twilley Band alum Phil Seymour, the Textones released the critically acclaimed LP Midnight Mission (A&M, 1984), to which Gene Clark lent guest vocals. In 1987, Olson teamed up with Clark for So Rebellious A Lover (Rhino, 1987). A live set by the pair became the basis of Silhouetted in Light - Live (Demon, 1991).


Midnight Mission by the Textones. Courtesy A&M Records.

Through the Canyon (Rhino, 1989) is a retrospective of her pre-Clark work that includes the band's 1981 version of Valentine's "Can't Stop the World," later covered by the Go-Gos.
There is now an official web page called Carla Olson's Place.


Joe Osborn

Bassist Joe Osborn played with Rick Nelson in the '60s, before his Stone Canyon Band days. He also did sessions for a host of acts, many of which were, like Nelson, early explorers of country rock. Osborn played on the International Submarine Band LP, as well as the Dillards' classic Wheatstraw Suite (Elektra, 1968), the eponymous LP Longbranch Pennywhistle (Amos, 1969) (J.D. Souther and Glenn Frey), Fever Tree's For Sale (Ampex, 1970) (along with Byrds short-timer Kevin Kelley), and Michael Nesmith's Nevada Fighter (RCA, 1971).
In the '70s he worked with soft-rockers like the Carpenters, England Dan and John Ford Coley, Seals & Crofts, and Kenny Rogers, but he also appeared on great LPs like Paul Simon (Warner Bros., 1972) and Neil Young's Comes A Time (Reprise, 1978).


Earl Palmer

During the '50s, Earl Palmer played drums with the house band of Dave Bartholomew's J&M Studios in New Orleans. There Palmer honed his chops playing with the likes of Professor Longhair, Fats Domino, Smiley Lewis and Little Richard.
In the '60s, Palmer moved to LA, where he played many sessions for producer Phil Spector as part of "the Wrecking Crew." He played on the Byrds' 1964 Elektra single, released under the name "the Beefeaters," and on Gene Clark with the Gosdin Brothers (Columbia, 1967).


Van Dyke Parks

Van Dyke Parks has worked as a songwriter, singer, arranger and producer. He's probably the only guy in the history of popular music whose reputation as a genius rests primarily on an album that was never released.
Van Dyke Parks came to Hollywood from the South as a boy and studied classical music. In the mid '60s he started playing sessions as a keyboardist, writing songs ("High Coin" was a hit for Harper's Bizarre, among others), and producing (the Mojo Men's cover of the Stephen Stills song, "Sit Down I Think I Love You," for example).
Around the time he played on the Byrds' "5D," he began writing songs with fellow oddball, Beach Boy Brian Wilson, who was planning to top his masterpiece, Pet Sounds (Capitol, 1966), with an album to be called Smile. That album was never officially released (although bootlegs can be had for the right price), but Wilson/Parks songs from those sessions, like "Heroes and Villains" and "Surf's Up" surfaced on later albums. Notwithstanding the strangeness of the songs that were released, the Smile sessions, and by extension Parks himself, acquired legendary status.
In the late '60s, Parks played keyboards on Gene Clark with the Gosdin Brothers (Columbia, 1967); produced albums for Judy Collins, Ry Cooder, and Randy Newman; and released his own debut, Song Cycle (Warner Bros., 1968), a weird LP full of baroque production, peculiar chord changes, and incomprehensible lyrics. He has released four solo albums since that one, the most recent being Tokyo Rose (Warner Bros., 1989). Recently, Parks reunited with Brian Wilson on Orange Crate Art (Warner Bros., 1995).


Gary Paxton

Gary Paxton got his start in the music business with future Byrd Skip Battin in the late '50s. The two formed a band called the Pledges, and later performed as a duo under the names "Gary and Clyde" and "Skip and Flip." The pair had three hits in 1959 and '60: "It Was I," "Fancy Nancy," and "Cherry Pie."
After the two split, Paxton became one of the Hollywood Argyles, singing lead on their 1960 hit, "Alley Oop."
Paxton then started his own record label, Garpax Records, and hit big with "Monster Mash" by Bobby "Boris" Pickett and the Crypt Kickers in 1962.
Later Paxton founded the small but influential California label, Bakersfield International. Paxton's label recorded many country, bluegrass, and country rock acts, including the Gosdin Brothers.


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Related Musicians | Musicians Associated with the Byrds | O - Pa

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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