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School: Roger McGuinn

Your parents worked in PR. How did that affect your early schooling?

I didn’t keep friends for long as we’d move around a lot. I guess it isolated me.

What music did you first fall in love with?

Elvis lit me up like a candle. That’s when I started playing guitar. Then Bob Gibson came to my high school and turned me on to folk music.

This was when you attended the Latin School of Chicago?

Yeah. My music teacher had invited Bob Gibson to the school. She told me the Old Town School Of Folk Music had opened up in Chicago. That was in 1957. She pointed me over there and I stayed until 1960.

What was it about Gibson that you liked?

He played the twelve-string guitar and five‑string banjo and was such a good picker. Plus he had a great voice.

Tell us about the Folk Music school.

They had a new song every week, with a different picking pattern, and showed us maybe a hundred different styles over the years. I played acoustic twelve-string when I was sixteen. When we were putting The Byrds together we saw A Hard Day’s Night. George Harrison had an electric Rickenbacker and I thought: “I’ve got to get one of those!” I’d been an accompanist on the folk scene, so I had nothing to lose when The Byrds came out.

Rob Hughes
Rob Hughes

Freelance writer for Classic Rock since 2008, and sister title Prog since its inception in 2009. Regular contributor to Uncut magazine for over 20 years. Other clients include Word magazine, Record Collector, The Guardian, Sunday Times, The Telegraph and When Saturday Comes. Alongside Marc Riley, co-presenter of long-running A-Z Of David Bowie podcast. Also appears twice a week on Riley’s BBC6 radio show, rifling through old copies of the NME and Melody Maker in the Parallel Universe slot. Designed Aston Villa’s kit during a previous life as a sportswear designer. Geezer Butler told him he loved the all-black away strip.