Gene Clark deserved more than whatever loyal cult status he had at the time of his untimely passing, and he deserves to be remembered for more than his membership in the Byrds on their first two albums. His achingly quixotic vocals, his poetic sixth sense in lyrics and the shifting harmonic surprises in his melodies would guarantee Clark membership in the Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of Fame even if the Byrds had never existed.
Born in Tipton, Missouri, in 1941 and raised in Kansas in a family of 12 children, the unassuming Clark must’ve known at an early age his sensitivity, fine voice and natural performer’s need to be noticed would result in a career in music. After stumbling through the usual high-school aggregations, Clark received his first break when he joined the New Christy Minstrels upon Randy Sparks’ invitation in 1962. He appeared on several singles and two albums (ironically enough on CBS/Sony), though his picture is only readily identifiable on Merry Christmas, the Minstrels’ 1963 Holiday offering.