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The Byrds: In the late 1940s and 1950s - after Sonny Til and The Orioles' Cryin' In The Chapel - it was almost de rigueur for black vocal bands to name themselves after birds: The Bluebirds, The Flamingos, The Quailtones.
Similar names later became popular among rock bands: for example, The Hawks, precursors of The Band, Wings, The Eagles, The Nightingales, The Housemartins and Rare Bird - to name just a few. The Byrds avoided a possible clash with the United Kingdom's Yardbirds, saying they were unlikely to be confused.
Some of the other "bird" bands were paying homage to the jazzman known simply as "Bird", Charlie Parker.
James Joseph McGuinn III, the main brains behind this particular ensemble, came to the job after Brill Building work - he co-wrote a song for The City Surfers. Looking for a catchy name, he latched on to his aeronautics hobby to come up with The Jet Set, while Jac Holzman of Elektra suggested matching the 'British invasion' with The Beefeaters, taken from a gin bottle depicting the Tower of London guards.
The final name came about when the band met for a Thanksgiving Day meal at the home of joint manager Ed Tickner. Gene Clark said the turkey dinner reminded him of Dino Valente song, Birdsies, which he really liked.
McGuinn said it met his plan of a name suggesting soaring flight, though "birds" was British slang for girls, which could cause some confusion! This led to the idea of a misspelling such as The Beatles' pun on beetles. McGuinn's comments on flight led them to aviator Admiral Byrd. The clincher was that it had "the all-important Magic B" of The Beatles and The Beach Boys, Tickner recalls.
Drummer Michael Clarke was born Michael Dick. He renamed after broadcaster Dick Clark, adding the final "e" to distinguish himself from Gene Clark. (Cf Fish and Paul Revere, also born as Dicks!)
Roger McGuinn, Gram Parsons, The Flying Burrito Brothers.
Influenced The Mynah Birds, Sweethearts Of The Rodeo and Budgie, although possibly not The Blackbyrds and The Long Ryders. Terrible punning LP: Preflyte. More name disputes: Birds, The Ded Byrds.
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