In the Wings

“Are you coming with me, or are you staying with him?” Marlon Brando asked a twenty-two-year-old woman he’d dubbed, “the girl of my dreams.” That dream girl was Ianthe McGuinn (then Dolores Deleon), and the place was a Hollywood party in 1965. Ianthe had to choose between this major, still extremely good-looking movie star and the man who brought her to the party, Roger (then Jim) McGuinn. He was on the cusp of rock music stardom as front man for The Byrds, one of the most influential rock bands of the 1960s. “In that split second I knew my whole life would change if I went off with Marlon,” writes Ianthe. “I glanced over at Jim, and my heart felt for him: shy, aloof and somewhat socially inept.” Then she turned back to Brando. “I’m staying.”

Ianthe stayed for the party instead of becoming another Brando conquest, and soon found herself at the epicenter of Sixties rock history. As Roger McGuinn’s closest confidant, friend, lover and wife during the incredibly fecund period of 1964 – 1971, she witnessed the Byrds’ flight to music fame as they pioneered the genres of rock folk, raga rock, country rock, and psychedelic rock. After nearly five decades, Ianthe breaks her silence in In the Wings: My Life with Roger McGuinn and the Byrds, a memoir packed with never-before-told stories and illustrated with never-before-seen photos from the authors’ private collection. While the book certainly delivers what readers demand from a rock memoir—sex, drugs, and celebrity dish—it’s one woman’s story of love, loss and the journey of finding herself while becoming the mother to two boys and then a single parent, the racism she faced as a Latina/Mexican-American that happens to be set amidst the boldface names of perhaps the most exciting period in music history.

In telling the story of the Byrds’ rise to fame from her unique vantage point as the only woman consistently involved with and at the center of the drama and success of the Byrds, Ianthe tells the story of the exploding rock music scene in 1960s Los Angeles.  In the Wings is also Ianthe’s memoir of being a young and beautiful Mexican-American from Tucson getting a crash course in love, loss, sex and drugs, marriage, and motherhood while being immersed in the aureate and vagaries of celebrity. And of course, it’s the love story of Ianthe and Roger, how that love was destroyed, and how she survived to find herself.

The Byrds’ worldwide smash hit songs from the 1960s, “Mr. Tambourine Man,” “Turn! Turn! Turn!,” and “Eight Miles High,” are iconic. The group is considered by rock critics today as one of the most influential bands of the 1960s. The Beatles called them their favorite contemporary American group. Rolling Stone magazine dubbed the Byrds one of the 100 Greatest Artists of All Time. They were inducted intothe Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

The one consistent band member who remains synonymous with the band is front man Roger McGuinn, and the person closest to him, who witnessed the band’s rise, glittering heyday, and tumultuous clash of wills—artistic and personal within the group—was Ianthe. The only Byrds member to have written a memoir is David Crosby (2007), so In the Wings will be the only other insider book about the Byrds. The few existing books about the Byrds were written by music journalists/historians.

Soon after arriving in Los Angeles in the early Sixties from Tucson Ianthe became involved in the folk music community, and after meeting McGuinn she became tightly woven into the fabric of the psychedelic patchwork that defined the Sixties music scene. As Ianthe writes, “My then-husband’s band was on the cutting edge of innovation in musical genres that define the 1960s. I have been silent for over forty years—now I want to tell my story.  As the only female and Mexican-American among a group of young men on the brink of stardom and international acclaim, I offer a unique perspective of the emotional temperament of the men behind the phenomenon of the Byrds. With an unflinching eye, as only the passage of time can allow, I share the downward spiral of success and excess, along with the stories of colorful characters and celebrities with whom I became involved, such as the Beatles, Marlon Brando and Harrison Ford to name but a few. The memoir is also, of course, my own personal journey, navigating this fascinating and turbulent time—just before the Sixties counter-culture burst into the American mainstream—and the societal changes that occurred by the events that were predicated and informed by rock music’s influence. As a Latina, I have embraced the tradition of life’s experiences I passionately depict. My hope is that this memoir will offer inspiration and encouragement to Latina women.  Informed by the richness of my cultural heritage, I feel that my Mexican-American identity helped me through some difficult times: I also had to overcome discrimination because of it.”

This title is available from most book sellers worldwide. Here is a link to two: