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Barry McGuire

Like countless numbers of post-DYLAN acolytes from the mid-60s onwards, BARRY McGUIRE could muster only one major hit, the P.F. SLOAN-penned chart-topper `Eve Of Destruction’, a song that had originally been offered to The BYRDS. Earnest it may have been, but the apocalyptic folk-rock prophecy of the track was rendered utterly compelling by McGUIRE’s ferocious delivery and it remains to this day a definitive 60s anthem.
Born October 15, 1935, in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, Barry was raised in California, and after dropping out of school he joined the US Navy; he was given his marching orders nearly a year later for being too young. Barry’s inaugural break in the music business came via the ever-evolving folk revivalists, The NEW CHRISTY MINSTRELS, an extremely successful early 60s folk-pop troupe who, at one point, numbered future Byrd GENE CLARK, among their ranks; when NCM leader Randy Sparks thought it best to bail out, McGUIRE – and spare-time singing duo partner, Barry Kane, aka Barry & Barry – took up the songwriting/vocal reins, penning several hits including `Green Green’ and `Three Wheels On My Wagon’; McGUIRE also scribed `Greenback Dollar’ for The KINGSTON TRIO. Early LPs for Horizon Records included the Barry & Barry record, HERE AND NOW! (1962) {*4} and THE BARRY McGUIRE ALBUM (1963) {*4}, both now dated and dismissed.
Signing a solo deal with Dunhill Records, McGUIRE hit pay-dirt with the aforementioned protest folk song, while others such as the P.F. SLOAN/Steve Barri-penned `Child Of Our Times’ and TRAVIS EDMONSON’s `Cloudy Summer Afternoon (Raindrops)’ only just scraped into the Hot 100. The similarly-titled Top 40 album, EVE OF DESTRUCTION (1965) {*7}, certainly had its moments, the aforementioned SLOAN composing at least half of the set including best cuts, `The Sins Of A Family’, `What Exactly’s The Matter With Me’ and `You Never Had It So Good’; others of note stemmed from Sylvia Fricker (IAN & SYLVIA): `You Were On My Mind’, DYLAN (`She Belongs To Me’ and `Baby Blue’) and old nuggets, `Try To Remember’ and the trad-folk sea shanty, `Sloop John B.’.
McGUIRE’s follow-up, THIS PRECIOUS TIME (1966) {*6}, didn’t exactly capitalise on his earlier success, due to the fact that his buddies The MAMAS & THE PAPAS were all over the set; the harmonies on hits, even `California Dreamin’’ and The LOVIN’ SPOONFUL smash, `Do You Believe In Magic?’, confused both the record company and the buying public.
Sadly, after the odd flop single and a third Dunhill LP, THE WORLD’S LAST PRIVATE CITIZEN (1967) {*3}, McGUIRE fell into that much-maligned of musical bargain bins – the one-hit-wonder.
After a comeback of sorts for Lou Adler’s new Ode/A&M stable, BARRY McGUIRE & THE DOCTOR (1971) {*4}, a collaborative record with Eric Hord, the singer converted to Christianity and thereafter worked on religious/gospel albums. Myrrh Records released a few non-folk LPs from the bearded one, SEEDS (1973) {*5} and LIGHTEN UP (1974) {*4} arguably his best efforts, while the country-disco LP COSMIC COWBOY (1978) {*5} for Sparrow Records marked an upsurge in his creativity. McGUIRE continued inside and outside the perimeter of the music business, combining work for World Vision (helping to eradicate poverty) and issuing several albums with gospel artist Terry Talbot; 2007’s live encounter TRIPPIN’ THE 60’s {*5} was notable. Subsequent sets with John York in tow: SONGS FROM THE KITCHEN – THE ACOUSTIC ALBUM (2010) {*5} and TRIPPIN’ THE 60’S: TAKE TWO (2013) {*5}, found new ways to record `Eve Of Destruction’, and a whole lot more besides.
© MC Strong 2010/GFD // rev-up MCS Sep2015

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