Year
1965
Month Day
June 21

“Mr. Tambourine Man” is released, and the folk-rock revolution is on

Released on June 21, 1965, the Byrds’ debut album, Mr. Tambourine Man, marked the beginning of the folk-rock revolution. In just a few months, the Byrds had become a household name, with a #1 single and a smash-hit album that married the ringing guitars and backbeat of the British Invasion with the harmonies and lyrical depth of folk to create an entirely new sound.

Perhaps someone else could have listened to the bright guitar lines of the Beatles’ “Ticket To Ride” and to Bob Dylan’s original “Mr. Tambourine Man” and had the idea of somehow combining the two, but neither of those recordings existed when the Byrds’ Roger McGuinn devised his group’s new sound. Newly signed to Columbia Records, the Byrds had access to an early demo version of “Mr. Tambourine Man” even before their label-mate Bob Dylan had had a chance to record it for his own upcoming album. On January 20, 1965, they entered the studio to record what would become the title track of their debut album and, incidentally, the only Bob Dylan song ever to reach #1 on the U.S. pop charts. Aiming consciously for a vocal style in between Dylan’s and Lennon’s, McGuinn sang lead, with Gene Clark and David Crosby providing the complex harmony that would, along with McGuinn’s jangly electric 12-string Rickenbacker guitar, form the basis of the Byrds’ trademark sound.

That sound, which would influence countless groups from Big Star to the Bangles in decades to come, had an immediate and profound impact on the Byrds’ contemporaries, and even on the artists who’d inspired it in the first place. “Wow, man, you can even dance to that!” was Bob Dylan’s reaction to hearing what the Byrds’ had done with “Mr. Tambourine Man.” Just days before the hugely influential album of the same name was released to the public on June 21, 1965, Dylan himself would be in a New York recording studio with an electric guitar in his hands, putting the finishing touches on “Like A Rolling Stone” and setting the stage for his controversial “Dylan goes electric” performance at the Newport Folk Festival just one month later.

FACT CHECK: We strive for accuracy and fairness. But if you see something that doesn't look right, click here to contact us! HISTORY reviews and updates its content regularly to ensure it is complete and accurate.

ALSO ON THIS DAY

French defeated in Spain, ending the Peninsular War

At Vitoria, Spain, a massive allied British, Portuguese, and Spanish force under British General Arthur Wellesley routs the French, effectively ending the Peninsular War. On February 16, 1808, under the pretext of sending reinforcements to the French army occupying Portugal, ...read more

U.S. General John J. Pershing attacked by Mexican troops

The controversial U.S. military expedition against Mexican revolutionary Pancho Villa brings the United States and Mexico closer to war when Mexican government troops attack U.S. Brigadier General John J. Pershing’s force at Carrizal, Mexico. The Americans suffered 22 casualties, ...read more

John Hinckley Jr., who attempted to assassinate Ronald Reagan, found not guilty

John W. Hinckley, Jr., who on March 30, 1981, shot President Ronald Reagan and three others outside a Washington, D.C., hotel, was found not guilty of attempted murder by reason of insanity. In the trial, Hinckley’s defense attorneys argued that their client was ill with ...read more

U.S. Constitution ratified

New Hampshire becomes the ninth and last necessary state to ratify the Constitution of the United States, thereby making the document the law of the land. By 1786, defects in the post-Revolutionary War Articles of Confederation were apparent, such as the lack of central authority ...read more

Zachary Taylor and Richard Nixon marry their future first ladies

On this day in June (in two different years), two future presidents, Zachary Taylor and Richard Nixon, marry the women who will become their first ladies. On this day in 1810, 26-year-old Zachary Taylor married Margaret Smith, age 31, in her sister’s log house in Louisville, ...read more

General Santa Anna dies in Mexico City

Embittered and impoverished, the once mighty Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna dies in Mexico City. Born in 1792 at Jalapa, Vera Cruz, Mexico, Santa Anna was the son of middle-class parents. As a teen, he won a commission in the Spanish army and might have been expected to live out an ...read more

Arthur Miller refuses to name communists

Playwright Arthur Miller defies the House Committee on Un-American Activities and refuses to name suspected communists. Miller’s defiance of McCarthyism won him a conviction for contempt of court, which was later reversed by the Supreme Court. His passport had already been denied ...read more

Hollywood stars Mary Pickford and Douglas Fairbanks mobbed by crowds

Swarms of admirers mob the Hollywood film actors Mary Pickford and Douglas Fairbanks, who arrive in London on their honeymoon on June 21, 1920. Two of film’s earliest stars, Pickford and Fairbanks had been business partners since 1919, when they teamed up with Charlie Chaplin and ...read more

Earthquake devastates Iran

An earthquake near the Caspian Sea in Iran kills an estimated 50,000 and injures another 135,000 people on June 21, 1990. The 7.7-magnitude tremor wrecked havoc on the simply constructed houses in the area. Thirty minutes past midnight, with most people sleeping in their homes, ...read more

The KKK kills three civil rights activists

Michael Schwerner, Andrew Goodman and James Chaney are killed by a Ku Klux Klan mob near Meridian, Mississippi. The three young civil rights workers were working to register black voters in Mississippi, thus inspiring the ire of the local Klan. The deaths of Schwerner and ...read more

Spain declares war against Great Britain

On June 21, 1779, Spain declares war on Great Britain, creating a de facto alliance with the Americans. Spain’s King Charles III would not consent to a treaty of alliance with the United States. For one imperial power to encourage another imperial power’s colonies in revolt was ...read more

Allies surrender at Tobruk, Libya

On June 21, 1942, General Erwin Rommel turns his assault on the British-Allied garrison at Tobruk, Libya, into victory, as his panzer division occupies the North African port. Britain had established control of Tobruk after routing the Italians in 1940. But the Germans attempted ...read more