Barry McGuire Biography

15 October 1935, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, USA. McGuire first came to prominence as a minor actor in Route 66 before teaming up with singer Barry Kane as Barry And Barry. In 1962, he joined the New Christy Minstrels and appeared as lead singer on several of their hits, most notably, ‘Green Green’ and ‘Saturday Night’. He also sang the lead on their comic but catchy ‘Three Wheels On My Wagon’. While still a Minstrel, he composed the hit ‘Greenback Dollar’ for the Kingston Trio. After leaving the New Christy Minstrels, McGuire signed to Lou Adler’s Dunhill Records and was assigned to staff writers P. F. Sloan and Steve Barri. At the peak of the folk rock boom, they wrote the rabble-rousing protest ‘Eve Of Destruction’, which McGuire took to number 1 in the USA, surviving a blanket radio ban in the process. The anti-establishment nature of the lyric even provoked an answer record, ‘Dawn Of Correction’, written by John Madara and Dave White under the pseudonym the Spokesmen. Ironically, ‘Eve Of Destruction’ had originally been conceived as a flip-side and at one stage was offered to the Byrds, who turned it down. Coincidentally, both Barry McGuire and Byrds leader Jim McGuinn received a flattering namecheck on the Mamas And The Papas’ hit ‘Creeque Alley’ (‘McGuinn and McGuire were just a-getting higher in LA, you know where that’s at’). McGuire, in fact, played a significant part in bringing the million-selling vocal quartet to Adler and they offered their services as his backing singers on 1965’s This Precious Time.

McGuire unsuccessfully attempted to follow up his worldwide hit with other Sloan material, including the excellent ‘Upon A Painted Ocean’. He continued to pursue the protest route on his albums, but by 1967 he was branching out into acting. A part in The President’s Analyst led to a Broadway appearance in the musical Hair. After the meagre sales of The World’s Last Private Citizen, McGuire ceased recording until 1971, when he returned with former Mamas And The Papas sideman Eric Hord on Barry McGuire And The Doctor. The work featured backing from the cream of the 1965 school of folk rock, including the Byrds’ Chris Hillman and Michael Clarke. Soon afterwards, McGuire became a Christian evangelist and began recording gospel albums for the Myrrh Records label. His 1974 album Lighten Up included a remake of ‘Eve Of Destruction’. He later recorded for Sparrow Records and released a children’s album, Bullfrogs & Butterflies, for its Birdwing subsidiary. McGuire and his wife spent most of the 80s in New Zealand working for a charity organisation, but they returned to America the following decade. McGuire revived his music career by recording a series of albums with gospel singer-songwriter Terry Talbot.

Source: The Encyclopedia of Popular Music by Colin Larkin. Licensed from Muze.