The Birds

Birds, TheFrom: Yiewsley, London, England

The Birds are a band that was never fortunate enough to get the break they rightfully deserved. They were considered to be one of the top R&B-based rock bands in England during the 1960s, who’s sound was thought to be as hard and as appealing as that of the Who, the Yardbirds, or the Small Faces. The Birds are remembered as the band that Ron Wood started off in before moving on the the Faces and the Rolling Stones. Also, they shared a name with a rather successful American band, the Byrds.

The Bird’s original lineup was Ron Wood (guitar, harmonica, vocals), Tony Munroe (guitar, vocals), Kim Gardner (bass) and Bob Langham (Drums). Langham was quickly succeeded by Pete McDaniels, and Ali McKenzie (vocals) was added to complete the lineup in 1964. All of the members were still in their teenage years at the time.

Based in West London, they played regularly at the local community center, where they built up a solid following. This led to their turning professional. The band changed their name to the Birds, because their original name, the Thunderbirds, already belonged to Chris Farlowe’s backup band at the time. Playing in a talent show called Ready, Steady, Go, the Birds were heard by Decca Records who signed them to a contract. The band’s first single, “You Don’t Love Me” was recorded in November of 1964. The next spring, they responded with “Leaving Here” landing them a performance on television.

Seemingly poised for success, the Birds found themselves being booked ahead of such bands as the Pretty Things and the early Jeff Beck group the Tridents. The Birds were even billed with the Who on some of the same gigs. It seemed near impossible for them to fail, given that their sound had the loud, crunchy brand of British R&B that was similar to many of the big acts of the time.

Things began to fall apart in 1965. Across the Atlantic, a five-piece band from Los Angeles California named themselves  the Byrds.  the Byrds debut single “Mr. Tambourine Man”, was dominating the charts, resulting in the Birds to become forgotten. The band’s manager tried to take legal action but got nowhere since the spelling was different. After one more single was released for Decca, the band switched over to Reaction Records, changing their name to Birds Birds at first. However, the first single, “Say Those Magic Words”, was delayed in release for almost a year due to contractual dispute.

During this delay, the band released a version of Pete Townshend’s “Run, Run, Run”. They also got themselves a film appearance, performing a Ron Wood/Tony Munroe song, “That’s All I Need”, in the horror The Deadly Bees, in 1966. After this, it wasn’t long before Munroe left the band. Wood left in 1967 where he would join the reconfigured (Small) Faces with Rod Stewart in 1969. As one of the better acts of the 1960s, confusion in terms of the band’s name is probably what stopped them from breaking through.

Artist information sources include: Allmusic.com

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Tracks played on Psychedelicized…

From the 1999 album Collectors’ Guide to Rare British Birds
Album

  • No Good Without You
  • Say Those Magic Words
  • You Don’t Love Me
  • You’re on my Mind