Saturday, April 9, 2016

Why Didn't Gene Clark's Solo Career Take Off?

That seems to be the million-dollar question.

After leaving The Byrds, many thought Gene Clark would have an equally stellar solo career.

With The Gosdin Brothers and the two Dillard & Clark albums certainly had their moments, but proved to be disappointments commercially.

But then between 1970 and 1974, Gene Clark released some of the finest music he ever made and maybe that anyone has ever made, at least in our era. Sadly, it was mostly ignored at the time (apparently), even though he was already famous as an ex-Byrd and the fact that the material is quite good.

Between 1970 and 1974, The Flying Burrito Brothers recorded three Gene Clark songs (two with him on vocals), The Eagles covered a song he co-wrote on their debut album, Gene did two singles with the original Byrds, recorded two songs for the soundtrack of a Dennis Hopper movie, sang lead on four great songs (two by him and two by Neil Young) to a what should have been a glorious Byrds reunion album, released two incredible solo albums -  White Light and No Other, and recorded an album for A&M (Roadmaster, which wasn't widely available until it came out on CD in the 1990's)

Listening to these works now, it's hard to understand why they generated so little interest at the time. (Several of them were unavailable to the public until years later.) The thought of a Byrds reunion album, with Crosby fresh from his successes with CSN and sometimes Y, should have been enough on its own to encourage people to give Gene Clark a fresh reassessment.

Yet it was not to be.

It seems that Gene never recovered from the lack of interest in No Other. He died in 1991 and his star has risen in recent years as a father of alt. country, but the mystery remains as to why CSNY and The Eagles were so huge at the time, and Gene Clark wasn't.

I'll be exploring this issue in the coming weeks.

In the mean while, please send me your thoughts on why Gene's solo work didn't catch on at the time. I'll try to incorporate them into the article.


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