JAMES BYRD BIOGRAPHY
James Byrd is a virtuoso guitarist hailing from Seattle, USA. Initially coming to international prominance from his key role as founding member in 80's melodic power metal pioneers FIFTH ANGEL, Byrd went on to forge a productive and critically successful solo career.JAMES BYRD GENRES
His debut solo album "JAMES BYRD'S ATLANTIS RISING" is a must for anyone that enjoyed the debut self titled "FITH ANGEL" release and saw Byrd joined by Fifth Angel bandmate and drummer Ken Mary, vocalist Freddy Krumins and bassist Even Sheeley (TKO). Featuring the same melodic writing style that won critical acclaim for Fifth Angel, the album was a strong seller in Japan and Europe. "James Byrd's Atlantis Rising" charted at #14 in Asia, and was a top 20 metal release in European territories
Byrd then went down the instrumental route for "OCTOGLOMERATE", Byrd's first all instrumental release, "Octoglomerate" was released in 1993 for Shrapnel Records. The album features a blend of Hendrixian space-rock and neo-classical influences which remain unique. "Octoglomerate" also marked Byrd's introduction to Yngwie Malmsteen who upon hearing the album, asked to meet Byrd. The two became good friends when Byrd found that Malmsteen admired his music and vision.
Octoglomerate also marked Byrd's first effort at engineering, having been recorded by Byrd in his basement on a single 8 track machine with almost no equipment other than his guitars, amps, and an ancient Digital delay/reverb unit. Octoglomerate is an album made with virtually no commercial considerations according to Byrd, and the album features very extended concepts, embodying elements of blues, jazz, flamenco, classical, funk, and metal. Impossible to put in one category, "Octoglomerate" generated critical acclaim not only from Malmsteen, but in the guitar press as well.
1995's "SON OF MAN", more focused than "Octoglomerate", and very classical in it's approach, "Son of Man" marks Byrd's second instrumental album. Recorded and engineered by Byrd in 1995. "Son of Man" brought Byrd international fame as an important instrumentalist when Yngwie Malmsteen granted his first, and to this day, his only personal public endorsement of another guitarist.
Malmsteen's uncompensated endorsement of Byrd to Shrapnel Records brought Byrd into the limelight when Malmsteen proclaimed him as "The most exciting European sounding guitarist I've heard in years". Byrd was featured in Guitar One magazine as "One of The Ten Best Guitarists You've never Heard Of", and proclaimed to be "Too good to be true".
Additional proclaimations by Malmsteen in interviews of Byrd as "A great Guitarist" and a guitarist who "Really has vision" furthered Byrd's visibility in the press, and Son of Man became the most critically acclaimed guitar instrumental album ever released on Shrapnel Records.
1996 saw the band format revisited with "THE JAMES BYRD GROUP - THE APOCALYPSE CHIME" with ex Lynch Mob vocalist Robert Mason, local Seattle drummer Chase Culp. "The Apocalypse Chime" was Byrd's last album on the Shrapnel label. Well received in the press for it's hard-hitting performances and writing, the album even features a cover of the cult Hendrix classic "Dolly Dagger" from The Original Rainbow Bridge Motion Picture Sound Track release (1970) .
1998 saw the release of Byrd's most varied release in "CRIMES OF VIRTUOSITY" which saw Kendall Torey in the vocal spot along with Chase Culp again on drums and Randy Matthieson on bass. Crimes of Virtuosity was recorded in 1996 and first released on JVC Records in Asia in late 1997. Featuring Byrd's most passionate and aggressive guitar playing to date.
"Crimes of Virtuosity" is a decidedly aggressive album and it's raw, in your face guitar tones mark a change in production for Byrd, being decidedly un-processed and clear. The album was featured on Masa Itoh's Syndicated Radio Hour across Asia and reviews were stellar. C.O.V. was remixed for it's European release on Mascot Records in 1998 as an HDCD.
Byrd's debut on Lion Music in 2001 now under the "Byrd" brand name. "FYING BEYOND THE 9" heralded a new beginning and a new sound. Heavily orchestrated with dynamic songs the album was Byrd's most critically acclaimed release thus far. "Flying Beyond The 9" was in Lion Music's top 3 sellers of 2001 and set a new benchmark in terms of quality for Byrd's future works.
2002's "ANTHEM" (again under the BYRD moniker) set forth 9 tracks of highly polished progressive symphonic metal featuring complex multi-layered vocal harmonies, AOR melodic sensibility, and incredible guitar performances along with rich orchestration.
2005 saw a special edition re-release of "CRIMES OF VIRTUOSITY" on Lion Music along with 2 bonus tracks, the previously Japanese only track "Shot Down In Flames" and the orchestral "Byrd's Bolero" which predated Yngwie Malmsteen's "Concerto" album by some 2 years.
Since this time Byrd's recording activities have been limited to playing on tribute albums for such luminaries as Frank Marino (Secondhand Smoke), Uli Jon Roth (Beyond Inspiration), Jason Becker (Warmth In The Wilderness vol.1) and Jimi Hendrix (The Spirit Lives On Vol.2). Byrd has also recently started his own guitar company Byrd Guitars who manufacture the original design of the "Super Avianti" which Byrd now plays exclusively. Work is in progress for a new solo album at the time of writing.
JAMES BYRD ORIGIN
United States of America, formed in 1988
JAMES BYRD CURRENT RECORD LABEL
JAMES BYRD STATUS
JAMES BYRD CURRENT LINE-UP
Randy Mattheisson - Bass
Chase Culp - Drums
Kendall Torrey - Vocals
James Byrd - Guitars
JAMES BYRD PREVIOUS LINE-UP
Evan Shelley - Bass, Keyboards (TKO, Q5, Nightshade (US))
Joey Blair Mudarri - Bass
Freddy Krumins - Vocals
Robert Mason - Vocals (Lynch Mob)
Scott Hunt - Drums
Jeff Robinette - Drums
Ken Mary - Drums (Fifth Angel, Accept, Alice Cooper, Chastain, David T. Chastain, Impellitteri, ex-Strike (US), TKO, Randy Hansen, House Of Lords, Soul Shock Remedy)