Roger McGuinn Thunderbyrd – Live At Hammersmith Odeon – January 1, 1977 – BBC Radio 1 –
Roger McGuinn tonight, with his short-lived project Thunderbyrd in a concert from the Hammersmith Odeon and recorded by BBC Radio 1 for In Concert on January 1, 1977.
Thunderbyrd was singer-songwriter and guitarist Roger McGuinn’s 5th solo studio album, released in 1977 on the Columbia Records label. Following the success of his 1976 album Cardiff Rose, McGuinn intended to make another album in collaboration with its producer Mick Ronson. This project however never materialized. Instead he put together a new band, Thunderbyrd, and recorded this album with them.
The album contains four original compositions by McGuinn and his old songwriting collaborator Jacques Levy. It also includes a version of Tom Petty’s “American Girl”, originally a hit the year before from Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers’s eponymous debut album.
Thunderbyrd was not well received by critics or record buyers and was to be McGuinn’s last solo album until 1990’s Back from Rio.
In case you don’t know, Roger McGuinn is best known for being the frontman of the Byrds. During his time with the Byrds, McGuinn developed two innovative and very influential styles of electric guitar playing. The first was “jingle-jangle” – generating ringing arpeggios based on banjo finger picking styles he learned while at the Old Town School of Folk – which was influential in the folk rock genre. The second style was a merging of saxophonist John Coltrane’s free-jazz atonalities, which hinted at the droning of the sitar – a style of playing, first heard on the Byrds’ 1966 single “Eight Miles High”, which was influential in psychedelic rock.
After the break-up of the Byrds, McGuinn released several solo albums throughout the 1970s. In 1973 he collaborated with Bob Dylan on songs for the sound track of the Sam Peckinpah movie Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid including “Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door”. He toured with Bob Dylan in 1975 and 1976 as part of Dylan’s Rolling Thunder Revue, cancelling a planned tour of his own in order to participate. In late 1975, he played guitar on the track titled “Ride the Water” on Bo Diddley’s The 20th Anniversary of Rock ‘n’ Roll all-star album.
In 1977, he released Thunderbyrd, which was also the name of his contemporaneous band. Other members included future John Mayall & the Bluesbreakers and Fleetwood Mac guitarist Rick Vito, future Poco bassist Charlie Harrison and drummer Greg Thomas.
Here’s the concert they did at The Hammersmith Odeon on January 1, 1977 via The BBC.