Gene Clark

Biography

Sometimes it seems that Gram Parsons' dramatic and scandalous death overshadowed the death (and career) of Gene Clark. Although he only sang with the Byrds for two years, Clark released a grand roster of work before his death in 1991. Like many of his colleagues, Clark cut his teeth in the New Christy Minstrels (the Mickey Mouse Club for folk rockers) before taking flight in 1964 with Roger McGuinn, David Crosby, Chris Hillman, and Michael Clarke. After he left the Byrds, Columbia records added Clark to their roster; he cut his luminary solo debut with the Gosdin Brothers in 1967. The album was ahead of its time, as Clark was one of the very first to experiment with blending country and rock music. After trying to put aside differences, Clark briefly rejoined the Byrds but soon split to collaborate with Doug Dillard (of Bluegrass gurus the Dillards). The two musicians created a rural version of Cosmic American Music, combining Bluegrass and country with rock and pop. But Clark's work with Dillard was similarly short-lived: Dillard & Clark released only two albums for A&M before Clark decided to pursue a full-on solo career. His battle with severe alcoholism got in the way of his professionalism, and his solo material didn't live up to his potential. After attempting a second and sorry Byrds reunion with the band's former drummer, Clark died in Sherman Oaks, Calif., in 1991 from a bleeding ulcer brought on by his battle with alcoholism.
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