Roger McGuinn revealed that the partial Byrds reunion came about partly as a way of distracting colleague Chris Hillman from the “tough year” he’d just had.

The pair recently kicked off a tour to mark the 50th anniversary of the band's classic album Sweetheart of the Rodeo.

“It was a few months ago,” McGuinn told Rolling Stone in a new interview. “We were travelling in Argentina, sitting in the airport and I said, ‘Let’s do something about this Sweetheart anniversary. We wanted Chris to have something fun to do because he had a tough year. Tom [Petty] died and then his house got burned up in a fire.”

He added that Hillman “was all for it” and “jumped at it” when he was asked on the phone; then they decided to add Marty Stuart and his band the Fabulous Superlatives. McGuinn called it a “perfect fit,” because Stuart has a guitar owned by late Byrds member Clarence White. “When it’s played on the Sweetheart songs, it just makes a lot of sense,” he noted.

Although the live set features the album in its entirety, McGuinn said it's not being played in order. “It’s out of sequence, but it’s all of the songs," he explained. "The first half is the songs we did in the Byrds that led up to recording in Nashville like ‘Satisfied Mind,’ ‘A Girl With No Name,’ ‘Time Between’ and ‘Mr. Spaceman.’ This is just to show that we were dabbling in this stuff before Gram [Parsons] came around. Then we talk about Gram and what an influence he was. The second half is all the songs from Sweetheart plus other stuff that Marty Stuart does. Then we’re gonna end with a tribute to Tom Petty.”

The set concludes with “rock 'n' roll stuff” like “Mr. Tambourine Man” and “Turn! Turn! Turn!” followed by Petty’s “American Girl,” “Running Down a Dream” and “Wildflowers,” McGuinn said.