5.12.12

The Birds - Say Those Magic Words 1964-1965 (1992)


The Birds were a popular rhythm and blues band in the United Kingdom during the mid 1960s, although they recorded fewer than a dozen songs and released only four singles. Starting out with a hard R&B sound, they later began infusing it with Motown-style vocal harmonies. The best known former member of The Birds is Ronnie Wood, who went on to join Faces and later The Rolling Stones.

Several members of The Birds grew up in the same neighbourhood in Yiewsley, west London, and began playing together in 1964, while still in their teens. At first calling themselves The Thunderbirds, they started out playing local clubs and a neighbourhood community centre, but they soon expanded to a larger club circuit. When they were hired to play on the same bill as Chris Farlowe, whose back-up band was also called The Thunderbirds, they shortened their name to The Birds – a decision which would have significant ramifications later.

Their hard R&B sound was good enough to get them into in a battle-of-the-bands contest held under the show Ready Steady Go! When the band made their first television appearance, they caught the eye of Decca record company executives. The ensuing recording contract resulted in their first two singles, "You Don't Love Me" and "Leaving Here". The Birds seemed destined for stardom with their loud rhythm-and-blues based music, receiving equal billing with The Who at some concerts.


However, in the spring of 1965, the Los Angeles-based band, The Byrds, was dominating the UK Singles Chart with "Mr. Tambourine Man", released by the newly formed British CBS Records. When The Byrds arrived in England for their first British tour that summer, The Birds' manager, Leo de Clerck, took legal action to prevent them from using the name; the action failed, amid a flurry of national press and television coverage. The group parted ways with de Clerck soon afterwards.

After releasing the third Decca single in late 1965, the band moved to Reaction Records, whose director, Robert Stigwood, suggested they change their name to "The Birds Birds", to distinguish themselves from the American band. In 1966, the band did a cameo appearance in the horror film The Deadly Bees, performing their song "That's All I Need",which would later be seen on Mystery Science Theater 3000. By 1967 the group had disbanded.Both Gardner and Wood went on to join The Creation, with Gardner then joining Ashton, Gardner and Dyke.

Lemmy, who was a fan of The Birds, also recorded "Leaving Here" with his band, Motörhead.

In 2010, Ali McKenzie started to play in gigs as The Birds with the members of Small Faces tribute band, Small Fakers.

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