If I had to pick the one musician in my lifetime who's meant the most to me, it's him. And for a very simple reason: Because a Rickenbacker 12-string, well-played, is in my opinion the most beautifully occurring sound in nature.
Here's the definitive stereo mix of The Byrds' epochal "Mr. Tambourine Man" to illustrate what I mean.
And (via Wiki) here's Roger on the genesis of that sound.
While "tracking" The Byrds' first single, "Mr. Tambourine Man", at Columbia studios, McGuinn discovered an important component of his style. "The 'Ric' by itself is kind of thuddy," he notes. "It doesn't ring. But if you add a compressor, you get that long sustain. To be honest, I found this by accident. The engineer, Ray Gerhardt, would run compressors on everything to protect his precious equipment from loud rock and roll. He compressed the heck out of my 12-string, and it sounded so great we decided to use two tube compressors [likely Teletronix LA-2As] in series, and then go directly into the board. That's how I got my 'jingle-jangle' tone. It's really squashed down, but it jumps out from the radio. With compression, I found I could hold a note for three or four seconds, and sound more like a wind instrument. Later, this led me to emulate John Coltrane's saxophone on "Eight Miles High". Without compression, I couldn't have sustained the riff's first note."
"I practiced eight hours a day on that 'Ric,'" he continues, "I really worked it. In those days, acoustic 12s had wide necks and thick strings that were spaced pretty far apart, so they were hard to play. But the Rick's slim neck and low action let me explore jazz and blues scales up and down the fretboard, and incorporate more hammer-ons and pull-offs into my solos. I also translated some of my banjo picking techniques to the 12-string. By combining a flat pick with metal finger picks on my middle and ring fingers, I discovered I could instantly switch from fast single-note runs to banjo rolls and get the best of both worlds."
Happy birthday, Rog, and many many more.
Have a great weekend, everybody.