His early musical career began in 1956 when he collaborated with Gary Paxton, whom he had met while attending college in Tucson, Arizona and they formed the Pledges, the same duo later successfully recording as Skip & Flip, enjoying some success with “It Was I”, and their cover of “Cherry Pie” (both of which reached number 11). After a few years out of the music industry, he led the short-lived folk-rock group Evergreen Blueshoes, starting in 1967. Their one album appeared on the Amos label.
As a journeyman musician, Battin is probably best known for his position as bass guitarist and songwriter with the Byrds from 1970 to 1973. He was—by eight years—the oldest member of the Byrds, with whom he recorded three albums and toured extensively. Many of his songwriting contributions were co-written with longtime collaborator and famous producer/songwriter Kim Fowley.
After the breakup of the Columbia Byrds, Battin recorded a solo album, Skip and after his official dismissal from the group in February 1973, he began work on his Topanga Skyline album (that later saw a release over 40 years later in 2012). The album was shelved, and he was invited to join the country-rock group the New Riders of the Purple Sage, with whom he recorded three albums from 1974 to 1976, whereupon he left to join his ex-Byrd cohort Gene Parsons in the “re-fried” Flying Burrito Brothers.
None of Battin’s three solo albums released from 1971 to 1983 cracked Billboard’s album chart, but his first, titled “Flip,” was reissued recently.
During the 1980s and into the ’90s, he participated in various Byrds-New Riders-Burritos reunions. He also worked frequently in Europe and lived for a time in Italy, recording and performing with other Southern California country-rock veterans.
Battin’s career as a journeyman, continued successfully and included stints with the Flying Burrito Brothers, The Burrito Brothers, collaborations with notable country rock musicians, and numerous solo projects. From 1989 to 1991, he toured occasionally with Michael Clarke’s Byrds. After Clarke’s death, the band continued as The Byrds Celebration, with Battin the sole ex-Byrds member.
He stopped touring and recording when Alzheimer’s disease prevented him from continuing.
Battin died at age 69 on the evening of July 6, 2003, of complications from Alzheimer’s disease in a care facility in Silverton, Oregon.
The album recorded by Battin, Topanga Skyline, in 1973 was finally released in February 2012 on Sierra records, a company which features works from Battin and his early ’70s country-rock contemporaries.
“He was professional, nice guy,” said songwriter-producer and singer Kim Fowley, who met Battin in 1959 and wrote songs with him for two decades. “Skip was a diplomat, a real gentleman, a good loyal friend, and as a musician he was the ultimate sideman and group member.”