At 15 ½ Jay appeared as a dancer on "Allen Freeds Big Beat Party" TV show in New York City, and soon was doing commercials, magic, and ventriloquism. He also sang with both Allen Freed and his wife Inga, doing a song written by Inga especially for the show.
After Freeds show went off the air 3 ½ years later, Jay went on to become a regular on "The Clay Cole Show", another local NY TV dance show.
As a magician, Jay also appeared on the TV shows "To Build a Nation" and "The Magic Clown", where he was granted charter membership in "The exclusive order of Prestidigitation and Legerdemain" as a "Junior Master Magician". At that time the Mirror section of the New York Daily News featured him as a member of FAME (Future American Magical Entertainers).
Later he worked at the Hammer/Wilshire record Co. where he helped to co-write "Nancy", his first published song, for "The Love Notes". Since then Jay Byrd has been a singer/song writer for over 25 years, with over 1.000 original songs to his credit.
Over the years Jay has performed with child star Micky Dolenz (later of the Monkees) at the Essex House Hotel preview of a TV show called "Circus Boy", played drums for Patty LaBelle and the Blue Bells on a song called "The Academy Awards" (a big hit in Philadelphia), and appeared both solo and with various backup bands in countless venues around the US. Singer, songwriter, drummer, magician, dancer, actor, and promoter - that's Jay Byrd.
His legendary photo album includes pictures of him with Bobby Darrin, Gary U.S. Bonds, the Isley Brothers, and Pete Seeger, among hundreds of others.
With the help of his friend Michael America, Jay produced over 100 shows featuring over 500 different acts at The Speakeasy café in Greewich Village. The first show was billed as "The Last Underground Show". It was so successful that they went on to produce 14 more. Just to balance accounts, the final Underground show was billed as "The First Underground Show". Next came the long-running series of Speakeasy shows known as the Snap Café, which featured Michelle Shocked performing her tribute to Jack Kerouac, "Hep Cat", which became the official theme song of The Snap Café. Another early performer was Terry Radigan, formerly of "Grace pool". The M.C. for these shows was Fred Kuhn, also known as Fred Geobold of WBAI-FM's "Light Show". In those early Speakeasy days Jay was often referred to as the "Grand Daddy-o" of the Underground, and during Snap Café days as "His Hipness". In 1986 he appeared at Speakeasy in cooperation with The American Music Center as part of "American Music Week", which featured hundreds of showcases all across the U.S.
Jay Byrds musical performances include Folk, Folk-rock, Blues, Country, and particularly good-old Rock & Roll. After his first appearance at Folk City the M.C. said that "Jay's material sounded like some of the Rock & Roll songs of the 50's, but they werent, they were new!"
Jay Byrd has worked for the past 16 years with Buddy Grecco, one of the finest harmonica players around, who also does a heaven of a job backing the Byrd up with vocal harmonies, also doubling on bass or percussion when called upon. Buddy puts performing with Jay before playing with anyone else, saying, "I sometimes play with other musicians, but I work with Jay."
Another musician who works with Jay is Peter Pasco. Peter sings back-up and plays lead guitar, piano, banjo, harmonica, and recorder. A truly great songwriter himself, Peter sometimes seems to be channeling Buddy Holly. Always with a smile on his face and a song in his heart, his furious fingers and a quick-silver voice make a fine addition to Jay Byrds act.
On August 6th, 2000 Jay combined two of his many interests in a show that included both magic and music, with Paulete Shainer in the time-honored role of "lovely assistant".
Jay draws from all aspects of life and from different time periods in history when creating his songs. He also has the ability to step outside of himself to tell a story from some one elses perspective. Jays songs will make you laugh, cry, and want to dance. (Sometimes all at once!) He's not to be taken lightly unless that's what he has in mind. In the arena of politics, he never softens the blow except with humor. Byrd songs have lyrics that are delightfully original, Witty, thought-provoking, and sometimes outrageous. Jay Byrd is a wordsmith of the first order.
At the present time the Byrd-man has released 1 cassette, "Loop-de-loop", featuring a variety of 12 original songs, and a CD called, "Allusions 2000", featuring another dozen, newer songs. He is currently working in the studio on his soon to be released, "Hall of Mirrors".