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|Origin||Washington, D.C., United States|
|Years active||1973–1981, 2012-present|
The group was inspired by trumpeter Donald Byrd and featured some of his Howard University students: Kevin Toney (keyboards), Keith Killgo (vocals, drums), Joe Hall (bass guitar), Allan Barnes (saxophone, clarinet), and Barney Perry (guitar). Orville Saunders (guitar), and Jay Jones (flute, saxophone) joined later. They signed to Fantasy Records in 1973 and are best known for their 1975 hit "Walking in Rhythm", which received a Grammy nomination, sold over one million copies by May 1975, and was awarded a gold disc.
With eight albums released for Fantasy from 1974 to 1980, The Blackbyrds became an inspiration to late 1970s and early 1980s British jazz-funk acts such as Light of the World and Hi-Tension.
More recently, they have made a significant impact on the hip-hop generation with Gang Starr, Da Lench Mob, and Full Force sampling their music. In particular, their 1975 song "Rock Creek Park" from the City Life album has been sampled numerous times by groups and artists such as MF DOOM, De La Soul, Eric B. & Rakim, Big Daddy Kane, N.W.A, Massive Attack, Ice Cube, Heavy D, Nas and Grandmaster Flash & the Furious Five, Tone Lōc and Wiz Khalifa.
Founding member Allan Barnes died on July 25, 2016, aged 66.
- 1974: The Blackbyrds (Fantasy)
- 1974: Flying Start (Fantasy)
- 1975: City Life (Fantasy)
- 1975: Cornbread, Earl and Me (Soundtrack) (Fantasy)
- 1976: Unfinished Business (Fantasy)
- 1977: Action (Fantasy)
- 1980: Better Days (Fantasy)
- 2012: Gotta Fly (K-Wes Indi Records)
- 1978: Night Grooves (Fantasy)
- 1989: Greatest Hits (Fantasy)
- 2007: Happy Music: The Best of The Blackbyrds (Fantasy FCD-30194-2)
- "Do It, Fluid" (1974) - R&B #23, Pop #69
- "Walking in Rhythm" (1975) - R&B #4, Pop #6, Easy Listening #5, UK #23
- "Flyin' High" (1975) - R&B #22, Pop #70, Easy Listening #25
- "Happy Music" (1976) - R&B #3, Pop #19
- "Rock Creek Park" (1976) - R&B #37, Pop #93
- "Time Is Movin'" (1977) - R&B #15, Pop #95
- "Party Land" (1977) - R&B #30
- "Soft And Easy" (1977) - R&B #20
- "Supernatural Feeling" (1978) - R&B #19
- "What We Have Is Right" (1980) - R&B #38
- "Love Don't Strike Twice" (1981) - R&B #52
- "Dancin' Dancin" (1981) - Dance #59
All singles released on the Fantasy label.
- "The Blackbyrds". Discogs. Retrieved 2016-12-06.
- Murrells, Joseph (1978). The Book of Golden Discs (2nd ed.). London: Barrie and Jenkins Ltd. p. 354. ISBN 0-214-20512-6.
- "The Blackbyrds: Talking In Rhythm". Bluesandsoul.com. Retrieved 2016-07-28.
- Thompson, Dave (2001). Funk. Backbeat Books. p. 81. ISBN 0-87930-629-7
- Stryker, Mark (July 29, 2016). "Allan Barnes, soulful Detroit saxophonist, dies at 66". Detroit Free Press.