Today in KC’s Music History: “Mr. Tambourine Man” Released

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One of the most significant albums in rock ‘n’ roll history was released on June 21, 1965.

Mr. Tambourine Man by the Byrds heralded the arrival of folk-rock, a genre the Byrds helped create. And central to the Byrds sound was Gene Clark, who grew up in the Kansas City area.

Gene Clark (top right) was the Byrds' lead vocalist and main songwriter for the band's first two years.

Roger McGuinn’s electric 12-string was significant, but Clark contributed mightily as the co-lead vocalist (he and McGuinn often sang in unison), and as the band’s main songwriter. Out of the album’s 12 songs, Clark wrote or co-write five. They include I’ll Feel a Whole Lot Better, an enduring classic of the era, and Here Without You and I’d Knew I’d Want You.

The album peaked at No. 6 on the U.S. album chart and set the tone for California rock  for the next several years. The Byrds’ legacy extends far beyond California. It includes Athens, Georgia (the actual home of R.E.M. and the metaphysical home of all jangly pop bands),  Gainesville, Fla. (Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers) and Nashville (most of 1990s country music).

Released on the first day of the summer, Mr. Tambourine Man was the first in a series of amazing album releases. Was there a greater season than the summer of 1965? I think not.

In addition to the Byrds on June 21, you had:

  • July 5: Summer Days (and Summer Nights!) by the Beach Boys, containing California Girls and Help Me Rhonda.
  • July 23: More Hits by the Supremes, containing Stop! In the Name of Love and Back in My Arms Again.
  • July 30: Out of Our Heads by the Rolling Stones, containing (I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction.
  • Aug. 6: Help! by the Beatles (the album and the soundtrack to the film of the same name).
  • Aug. 30: Highway 61 Revisited by Bob Dylan, containing Like a Rolling Stone.
  • Sept. 15: Otis Blue by Otis Redding, containing the original recording of Redding’s song Respect.
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