Roger McGuinn: Many of Today's Folk Singers Aren't Playing Folk Songs

Roger McGuinn has had a somewhat storied career that's moved from folk to rock to country and back. A founding member of the seminal psychedelic band The Byrds, McGuinn's career actually began in folk bands, notably The Chad Mitchell Trio and The Limelighters, along with a stint as guitarist in Bobby Darin's band.

Upon moving to Los Angeles, McGuinn fell in with his future bandmates, bring the folk sensibility to a rock and roll world. His jangly guitar sound was an instant hit and sparked a new direction in popular music.

The Byrds first hit it big covering Bob Dylan--their first record and hit song was "Mr. Tambourine Man--including Dylan songs for most of their albums. The band went country on the now-critically acclaimed Sweetheart of the Rodeo, a failure at the time. McGuinn broke up the band in 1973, embarking on a solo career that eventually led him back to his folk roots. In 1995 he started Folk Den, a series of classic folk songs released on his website. Today, McGuinn tours solo, taking his cue from Pete Seeger and mixing it up on stage.

Up on the Sun caught up with McGuinn at his Florida home to discuss Folk Den, his solo tours, development on the Byrds, and what might have happened had he changed his name (from Jim) to Rocket (an option) instead of Roger.

KEEP PHOENIX NEW TIMES FREE... Since we started Phoenix New Times, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Phoenix, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
Glenn BurnSilver
Contact: Glenn BurnSilver