The original five-piece lineup of the Byrds consisted of Jim McGuinn (lead guitar, vocals), Gene Clark (tambourine, vocals), David Crosby (rhythm guitar, vocals), Chris Hillman (bass guitar, vocals), and Michael Clarke (drums). This version of the band was relatively short-lived; by early 1966, Clark had left due to problems associated with anxiety and his increasing isolation within the group. The Byrds continued as a quartet until late 1967, when Crosby and Clarke also departed.McGuinn and Hillman decided to recruit new members, including country rock pioneer Gram Parsons, but by late 1968, Hillman and Parsons had also exited the band. McGuinn elected to rebuild the band's membership; between 1968 and 1973, he helmed a new incarnation of the Byrds that featured guitarist Clarence White, among others. McGuinn disbanded the then-current lineup in early 1973 to make way for a reunion of the original quintet. The Byrds' final album was released in March 1973, with the reunited group disbanding later that year.
Several former members of the band went on to successful careers of their own, either as solo artists or as members of such groups as Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young, the Flying Burrito Brothers and the Desert Rose Band. In 1991, the Byrds were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, an occasion that saw the five original members performing together for the last time.Gene Clark died of a heart attack later that year, while Michael Clarke died of liver failure in 1993. McGuinn, Crosby, and Hillman remain active.