The Byrds

Jim McGuinn • Soho Square, London • August 1965


Soho Square, London

Jim McGuinn, captured at the start of The Byrds' 1965 British tour.

The Story

A month before their British trip, The Byrds played a prestigious Independence Day Party at the Malibu home of Jane Fonda. Early the following morning, at 3:16am, McGuinn is on a line to London for an interview with Chris Hutchins of The New Musical Express (July 16). “We wanna buy mod clothes in Carnaby Street — then we’ll be able to look even more English. And I wanna meet John Lennon: he sounds like a man after my own heart. Who knows, maybe we’ll even come home with English accents. Crazy.”

McGuinn and the rest of the group fulfill their relatively modest goals in short order. On August 2, the afternoon of their arrival, The Byrds go on a shopping spree in Carnaby Street, reputedly spending $2000 (about £725) in a matter of hours — and wiring home for cash to cover the purchases.” Christopher Hjort

With Carnaby Street being only an eight-minute walk from Soho Square, it’s very possible our Byrds Soho Series originates from August 2.

The Byrds will finally meet Lennon (and George Harrison) on August 5, following a legendarily poor performance at Blaises Club, in the basement of the Imperial Hotel at 121 Queen's Gate, London (now demolished). “I looked out and here were John Lennon, George Harrison, and Brian Jones. That was them out there and God, I was totally terrified. I couldn’t believe it. We were so bad that night: Chris Hillman broke a bass string and the stage was so small that McGuinn and I had to play through the same amp, which totally destroyed our guitars. It was a disaster happening right in front of our heroes.”David Crosby

Not only were two Beatles and the founder of the Rolling Stones present for the Blaises debacle, so, too, are: Brian Epstein, Bill Wyman, Pete Townshend, Graham Nash, Denny Laine, and all five members of The Pretty Things

Photographer unconfirmed / Image formerly from the London Features International Ltd — John Halsall archives

The Process

The images featured on our site are reproduced directly from the original negatives in our collection. Each has been digitally drum scanned at 8000 DPI to ensure the highest quality prints up to the largest sizes. 

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