Ricky Byrd is a name that most rock fans are familiar with and his rock n roll resume speaks for itself. The talented guitarist was last in Australia way back in 1982 (as a Blackheart, when Joan Jett first toured these shores), and it was a great pleasure to catch up with him at one of his acoustic gigs whilst in New York late last year. 1996 was a busy year for Ricky, one that found the gifted lead guitarist going it alone, performing his unique brand of soul charged rock in an acoustic setting. His demo ‘No Band, No Headaches’ – Collection 1, is a classy collection of tunes which really highlight this man’s songwriting talents. His clear, emotion filled vocals and exceptional fret work are a treat, on a demo that can at times create a lump in your throat. In a world where empty, shallow tunes cluster the air waves, the songs contained on Ricky Byrd’s demo all have a genuine, passionate feel to them. Three of the strongest numbers are ‘Best I Can’, the powerful, potential hit ‘Language Of The Heart’ and the sorrowful ‘Wide Open’. As a teenager Ricky was a founding member of metallic pop outfit Susan, who released the excellent ‘Falling In Love Again’ LP in 1979, with featured some biting guitar work from Byrd. The outfit had limited success, and toured extensively with the likes of Cheap Trick and Graham Parker. Without a doubt though, Ricky Byrd is best known through his recordings with Joan Jett and The Blackhearts. He spent ten years in the band, and with Joan, was a major force in creating the rockin’ sounds on some of her best loved albums. In my opinion Ricky Byrd was a vital ingredient to Joan’s lengthy worldwide success. His last recording with The Blackhearts was 1991’s ‘Notorious’, before he teamed up with Roger Daltrey. Ricky played, co-wrote and produced the track ‘Walk On Water’, off Daltrey’s ‘Rocks In The Head’ album. Byrd then toured Europe extensively with ex-Mott The Hoople leader Ian Hunter. His songs have been covered by a variety of artists, and some of his tunes can also be heard on the big screen, via the film ‘Heartbreak Hotel’. He has recently been in England, playing guitar on Chris Farlowe’s new album. Farlowe has recorded two of Ricky’s songs for this new release, ‘As Easy As That’ and ‘Language Of The Heart’, and it’ll be an album to look out for. Ricky has now launched his solo career and can be found playing small intimate clubs around the United States. The Ricky Byrd live experience is a treasured one and hopefully a promoter here will have the sense to bring him back down under in the near future. All songs from ‘No Band, No Headaches’ get an airing live, from the tempting tones of ‘Best I Can’, to the emotion charged ‘Language Of The Heart’. From memory the old Elvis stomper ‘Burnin’ Love’ was performed to a raucous response. He is currently locked away in a studio recording an EP for future release. Ricky Byrd has rock n roll flowing through his veins, his smooth, rangy vocals adapt well to the acoustic climate and it is not hard to become attracted to his music. No longer satisfied as the ‘unsung’ guitar hero, Ricky Byrd is ready to make his mark in the music world singing as well as playing his passionate collection of soul laden rock, and I strongly urge all fans of quality rock n roll to join him in his quest.
Note: Article originally appeared in Vicious Kitten Fanzine – 1997