Columbia Records mistakenly released a Byrds album without a title.
By 1970 the Byrds, who had started out so promisingly just five years earlier with two #1 hits
When veteran musician Skip Battin was invited to join the Byrds as their bassist in late 1969, Roger McGuinn was optimistic that he had finally assembled a stable
Why (Untitled)? Was it a perverse joke? A sign of resignation at being unable to come up with an acceptable title? In fact, the unusual title was an accident, the result of a record company’s mistake.
The details of how the album came to be called (Untitled) differ slightly depending upon the source, but evidence confirms the accidental origins of the name. As Roger McGuinn explained the title’s origins in an advertisement for the album: “Actually it was a mistake. Somebody from Columbia called up our manager and asked him what the title was. He told them it was ‘as yet untitled’ and so they went ahead and printed that”:
The Byrds’ producer-manager, Terry Melcher, related a slightly different version of events, claiming that he had written ‘Untitled’ on the official label copy sheet sent to the record company because the group had not yet settled on a name for the album, and before anyone realized what was happening the albums had been pressed up as (Untitled). (The fact that the name printed on the album sleeves included parentheses makes Melcher’s explanation the more likely one.)
Much as we like to think that all aspects of artistic efforts are deliberately infused with meaning, sometimes random chance and coincidence have their say as well. For a similar story involving a different band’s album title, check out our “No Answer” page.