Next year marks the 50th anniversary of the Byrds, but don't expect the them to commemorate the occasion with any sort of reunion. Despite clear interest from founding members Chris Hillman and David Crosby, Byrds frontman Roger McGuinn remains staunchly opposed to a reformation of the groundbreaking folk-rock band. "I'm happy with the Byrds as a good memory," he tells Rolling Stone. "David and I have talked about this at length, and to me a reunion would just be for the money. We'd go out and play some sheds, maybe gross a couple of million dollars and split it four or five ways. I'm not attracted to expensive things. I don't need a Ferrari or anything like that."
McGuinn says that the decision isn't personal, and that he remains extremely fond of Crosby. "I love David," he says. "He's funny, smart and very talented. He's one of the best harmony singers on the planet. He's a great rhythm player. He's written some really nice songs. I have nothing against David. This isn't personal . . . Again, I just think it would be about money and I don't need it. My wife is very good at budgeting. We don't need much. It's kind of like Pete Seeger. He made money, but he gave it all away and lives up on that hill."
Crosby remains frustrated with the situation, but he has equally warm feelings toward McGuinn. "Roger was at least 50 percent of the Byrds," he tells Rolling Stone. "He's a fantastic musician and a really bright guy. I think he's the best interpreter of Bob Dylan that's ever been. He's just not interested in a Byrds reunion. It's a shame because he and Chris and I could do it. It would be great fun, but I got tired of asking him. I must have asked him at least 10 times and he always says no."
Crosby, Stills and Nash keep David Crosby very busy, but he says he would happily balance the two groups if given the chance. "Who doesn't want to be in two bands?" he says. "And they're completely different. My job in the Byrds is very simple. All I gotta do is be a wingman to Roger. I could do that in my sleep. You should have seen how fun it was to take a Bob Dylan song like 'Chimes of Freedom' and come up with an arrangement and make a Byrds song out of it. It was really fucking fun . . . And to me a reunion wouldn't be about the money. I honestly don't even think it would even by that big of a money deal."
Regardless of how much money he stands to make, McGuinn is adamant that he's happy as a solo artist. "I love being a troubadour," he says. "I travel around the world with my wife and play little theaters. We have a ball. I just went on a few dates with Peter Frampton, and that was kind of fun because he has a great band. I'm going out soon and playing some dates with Mart Stuart, so I get to play with a band sometimes. I also play with the Rock Bottom Remainders whenever they want me to do that."
David Crosby has also expressed interest in writing new songs with McGuinn, but that's also unlikely. "I don't feel like writing any songs at this point," McGuinn says. "I returned to my folk roots about 18 years ago. That's where my heart is. I love doing the traditional stuff."
Even if the Byrds never play again, Crosby remains proud of his group's legacy. "Bob Dylan was coming to see us," he says. "He heard us play his stuff electric and you could hear the gears clicking in his head. He heard us do 'Mr. Tambourine Man' and he said 'uh-huh.' He then went out and found guys that could do that. The first batch players with Michael Bloomfield wasn't so good. But when you get the Band . . . They were so fucking good. When I first heard them I wanted to quit the business. I thought, 'Okay, well that's it. Not going to be able to do anything better than that!'"