“In my life the piano sings, brings me words that are not the strength of strings.”
I had never heard of Gene Clark’s No Other before learning of this mini-tour. I wasn’t too familiar with Gene Clark himself, for that matter. I needed a bit of reminding to know that he was a founding member of The Byrds, along with perhaps the better known David Crosby and Roger McGuinn. Personal details from Wikipedia are as follows:
On the basis of the quality of Clark’s contributions to Byrds, David Geffen signed him to Asylum Records in early 1974. The label was the home of the most prominent exponents of the singer-songwriter movement of the era and carried the kind of hip cachet that Clark hadn’t experienced since his days with the Byrds. He retired to Mendocino and spent long periods at the picture window of a friend’s cliff-top home with a notebook and an acoustic guitar, staring at the Pacific Ocean. Deeply affected by his visions, he composed the songs that became his masterpiece, No Other. Produced by Thomas Jefferson Kaye with a vast array of session musicians (including members of the Section and the Allman Brothers Band) and backing singers, the album was an unprecedented amalgam of country rock, folk, gospel, soul and choral music with poetic, mystical lyrics. Included in No Other are some of Clark’s most enduring compositions, including the title track, “Silver Raven”, “Some Misunderstanding” and “Lady of the North”. Although the album was praised by critics, its unconventional arrangements limited public appeal. Furthermore, its high production costs (exceeding $100,000) prompted Geffen to berate Clark and Kaye. The album was minimally promoted and stalled in the Billboard album chart at number 144. Ultimately, No Other became a favorite of rock critics, growing in popularity with each passing year.
Later in his career, Clark attempted a Byrds reunion in the wake of the 20th anniversary of Mr. Tambourine man. When the other original Byrds showed no interest, he assembled a band that he called The 20th Anniversary Tribute to the Byrds. When promoters took it upon themselves to shorten the band’s name to The Byrds, the other actual Byrds took exception and there was a lot of legal sorting out to do.
But the original Byrds did reunite to play at their induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in January of 1991. It would be one of Gene Clark’s final performances. He would die the following May of “natural causes”:
So Rebellious a Lover, a duet album with the roots rock singer Carla Olson, released in 1987, was a modest critical success, but Clark was increasingly afflicted with serious health problems, including ulcers and alcohol dependence. In 1988, he underwent surgery for the removal of much of his stomach and intestines.
A period of abstinence and recovery followed until Tom Petty‘s cover of “I’ll Feel a Whole Lot Better”, on his album Full Moon Fever (1989), yielded huge royalties to Clark, who quickly resumed using crack cocaine and alcohol. …
Clark’s health continued to decline as his drinking accelerated. He died of natural causes on May 24, 1991, at the age of 46. The coroner declared he succumbed to “natural causes” brought on by a bleeding ulcer. He was buried at Saint Andrews Cemetery in his birthplace of Tipton, Missouri, under a simple headstone inscribed “Harold Eugene Clark – No Other”.
Here is a the Byrds, along with Don Henley and Jackson Browne, performing Mr. Tambourine Man at their 1991 induction. The performance is a little shabby, IMO, but they hadn’t been together in a while, and kudos to them for giving it a go.
Getting back to the