The Byrds were an important part of the changing cultural shift that occurred in the 1960s. As the world stepped into a more liberal horizon, the band were even cited as being an inspiration to The Beatles who were the figureheads of this brave new world.
The band aren’t quite given the credit they deserve in the history books. With the same level of gusto as some of their counterparts—which may have something to do with the abrupt manner that David Crosby was kicked out of the band in 1967—The Byrds never quite managed to recapture their initial magic after his departure.
Crosby famously went on to form Crosby, Stills & Nash and proved there is no end to his talents. If it wasn’t for his somewhat premature departure from The Byrds, however, we may have never have received the greatness from his next project or this bizarre story on how he was kicked out.
The Byrds would form in 1964 and, jsut one year later, they would become chart-toppers on both sides of the Atlantic with their stunning rendition of Bob Dylan’s ‘Mr. Tambourine Man’. A wild tour of in Britain soon followed and by the time the year was out they would have another number one single with ‘Turn, Turn, Turn’.
The inner-band relationships would soon start to deteriorate, however, with Gene Clark being the first member to throw in the towel in 1966. Following that, Michael Clarke was the next member to tender his resignation in 1967 after clashing over the sonic direction he wanted the band to take for their next record.
This dispute came after the band opted to snub Crosby’s ‘Triad’ in favour of a cover of Carole King’s ‘Going Back’ as they sought to repeat the commercial success they received two years prior and, shortly after his departure, founding members Roger McGuinn and Chris Hillman informed Crosby that he was no longer a Byrd.
Was his unwanted ‘Triad’ the seed that led to his departure from the group? In the 2018 Netflix documentary Echo of the Canyon, Crosby addresses this claim bluntly and hilariously gave his brutally honest reason on why he was no longer deemed needed in the group: “Ladies and gentleman, that’s not why they threw me out of The Byrds,” he says, addressing the camera. “They threw me out of The Byrds because I was an a-hole.”
Later in the documentary, Crosby gave a more nuanced outlook on why his time in the band had come to an end: “If you give kids millions of dollars they’ll screw up,” he said. “We held together for a pretty long time. Bands tend to devolve. They evolve to the point where they’re exciting and new and good. After that, they work their way downhill until it’s, ‘Turn on the smoke machine and play your hits.’”
Crosby seemingly has no bitterness towards his old bandmates and things probably turned out for the best in the long run. Fortunately, the band would put their past behind them once they all matured and would reunite in 1972 as well as again in 1989 with the triad of Clark, Crosby and Clarke all back in the fold.