Throwback Thursday: Turn! Turn! Turn! Roger McGuinn and Jesus

Welcome to this week’s “Throwback Thursday” installment. Today, we’re going to revisit a post that was originally published back on January 24, 2016 and has been revised.

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As a young teen, I became a huge fan of the rock group, Crosby, Stills, and Nash (and sometimes Young). I was such a dedicated admirer that I even began exploring the back-catalogs of the members’ previous bands, including David Crosby’s stint with the Byrds. I eventually became a bigger fan of the Byrds than CS&N.

The Byrds came together in 1964 with Jim McGuinn on lead guitar and vocals, Gene Clark on vocals, David Crosby on rhythm guitar and vocals, Chris Hillman on bass, and Michael Clarke on drums. They were all folk musicians who had seen the writing on the wall with the rising tide of Beatlemania and attempted to make the switch to rock ‘n’ roll. Their resulting sound, with the instantly-identifiable, jingle-jangle of McGuinn’s Rickenbacker twelve-string electric guitar and Crosby’s high vocal harmonies, was a unique blend of folk and rock; a synthesis of Bob Dylan and John Lennon.

The Byrds’ first two albums were wildly successful and influential, but the band’s popularity gradually waned as rock music began drifting toward a “heavier” sound. Over the years, band members came and went and by 1968, McGuinn (pronounced mik-gwin) remained as the only founding member. But McGuinn and his hired hands continued to release albums and tour as the Byrds until 1973 when he disbanded the group to begin his solo career.

At the peak of the Byrd’s popularity, McGuinn, a former Roman Catholic, began dabbling in Subud, a form of Eastern religiosity, and subsequently changed his first name from Jim to Roger in 1967 as part of his initiation. The Byrds’ recorded repertoire included a large number of songs with a spiritual theme, which no doubt reflected McGuinn’s restless spiritual search: Turn! Turn! Turn!, 5D, I Am A Pilgrim, The Christian Life, Oil in My Lamp, Jesus Is Just Alright, Glory Glory, and Farther Along.

Drugs were a staple of the rock ‘n’ roll lifestyle and McGuinn was a regular imbiber. By 1977, heavy drug use had brought McGuinn to the lowest point in his life. Elvis Presley’s drug-induced death in August of that year was a wake up call. McGuinn thought to himself, “That could have easily been me.” The Holy Spirit was working in McGuinn’s life and after talking with some Christian friends, he accepted Jesus Christ as his Savior.

Being a huge Byrds fan at the time (and currently still), I thought McGuinn’s acceptance of Christ and becoming one of those “born-agains” was some very strange and disappointing stuff. Little did I know that the Holy Spirit was using McGuinn’s conversion, along with many other people and things, to also prod me along. I accepted Jesus Christ as my Savior six years later in 1983.

McGuinn’s witness continued to affect my life. Five years ago (2015), I was reading an online article in which Roger described how he and his wife had a daily devotion time together, during which they read a Psalm, a Proverb, and a chapter from the Old and New Testaments and prayed. My wife and I had never had a daily devotion time together. I suggested it to my wife and she gladly agreed and it’s been a huge blessing in our lives ever since!

At the age of 78, Roger continues to tour and delight audiences. Nobody plays the twelve-string quite like him.

29 thoughts on “Throwback Thursday: Turn! Turn! Turn! Roger McGuinn and Jesus

      1. Great! Yup, the Lord uses all kinds of influences to get people’s attention. The 1976 horror film, “The Omen,” was another one the Lord used to get me to actually buy and begin reading the Bible.

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  1. Very interesting. When I saw the name McGuinn, I immediately assumed it was supposed to be Roger and wondered why it wasn’t. I had no idea about the name-change.

    Good to read your words on the Byrds, bro. Hope summer’s going well for you and yours.

    Maranatha!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, Steeny! That was a fun post to write four years ago and fun to update! Lot’s of good, ol’ memories listening to the Byrds. They sang about peace and love, but couldn’t get along themselves. That’s where Jesus comes in.
      Summer’s going good, thanks, and hope it is for you as well!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Yes, it’s been going well! Lots of opportunities to pray for people and share the love of Jesus. So much darkness in the world, so much need. May our Lord come back soon for us and comfort us all.

        Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, David! Although I had been aware of their music since Mr. Tambourine Man in 1965, I didn’t become a huge Byrds fan until 1972 at the tail end of the band’s run. Roger keeps his faith low-key at concerts, but talks about it quite a bit in interviews. I would love to see him write a book, but he’s such a shy and modest guy that he’ll probably never do it.

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      1. I would love to read his testimony. On another note, I saw him in concert in Madison Square Garden way back in 1975. Playing with his own band, I believe, he was the warm-up for the Beach Boys.

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      2. We’re on the same page. I saw Roger and the same backup band at a small venue here in Rochester in 1975. He had just came out with the album, “Roger McGuinn & Band,” probably the weakest of his solo albums. The only memory I have of that concert is during the performance of “Eight Miles High” he switched to a guitar with a translucent body and colored lights inside that flashed when the chords were played.

        Liked by 1 person

    1. 👋🏻
      Thanks! I’m two weeks ahead with my posts, but I’m gonna bump up that LSH review. You might be the only person who reads my comics reviews.
      I’m looking forward to your comic review! It’s been a long time for you.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. You’re close! The post mentions CSN at the start but is primarily about the Byrds and Roger McGuinn. It was the Byrds who recorded Turn! Turn! Turn! which was based on Ecclesiastes 3. I don’t fault you for not knowing all the details of rock music from 55 years ago. Van Til I don’t have a clue, but when it comes to 60s rock bands I’m a Music History-404 guy.

      Liked by 1 person

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