Tag Archives: Gram Parsons

50 Years Ago in Rolling Stone: Issue 31

Rolling Stone issue #31 had a cover date of April 19, 1969. 32 pages. 35 cents. Cover photo of Sun Ra by Baron Wolman.

Features: “Sun Ra” by John Burks; “Earthquake! California Fears Fear Itself” by Jerry Hopkins; “Bunky & Jake” by Paul Nelson; “Cerebrum” by Charles A. Fracchia; “Jethro Tull & His Fabulous Tool” by Ben Fong-Torres.

News: Morrison’s Penis Is Indecent; Censors Muffle Smothers Bros.; Blue Meanies Attack Beatles; “Tim Hardin: Hobnobbin’ With The Superstars” by Tom Nolan; An AFM Ban on the Moog Synthesizer?; Fillmore West vs. 28 Flavors; “When They Were: Mason, Capaldi, Wood & Frog, RIP” by Jonathan Cott; Jazz Takes Gas At Fillmore East; Flatt & Scruggs’ Last Breakdown; Rolling Stars: Sun to Enter Sign of Ram; Mercury’s Rockers In the Boondocks; Hearst Closes Its EYE; Cream Movie Is ‘A Real Bomb’; MC5 Kick Out The What?; LA’s Open City Closed Down; Random Notes on Cass Elliot, James Brown, Jeff Beck, Plaster Casters, Janis Joplin, methamphetamine, CSN, Jerry Lee Lewis, Eric Clapton, Johnny Cash, and Aretha Franklin.

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50 Year Old Byrds video: Mr. Spaceman ft. Gram Parsons

Video: The Byrds w/Gram Parsons – “Mr. Spaceman” (1968)

From Fifth Dimension (Columbia, 1966) via Reelin’ in the Years.

Filmed at the Roman Colosseum while the Byrds were in town to play the first International European Pop Festival in 1968, two full years after “Mr. Spaceman” was originally recorded by a very different Byrds lineup.

In the video, we see original Byrds Roger McGuinn and Chris Hillman joined by newbies Gram Parsons, Kevin Kelley, and Douglas Dillard. (See below for audio of that lineup performing live at the Piper Club.) From Rome, the Byrds would travel to England where they met and hung out with the Rolling Stones before heading back to the States. This was May, and they’d be back in England again in July before heading down to South Africa. Except that Gram Parsons stayed in England with the Stones.

Keith Richards remembered it like this:

He was not aware of apartheid or anything. He’d never been out of the United States. So when I explained it to him, about apartheid and sanctions and nobody goes there, they’re not being kind to the brothers, he said, “Oh, just like Mississippi?” And immediately, “Well, fuck that.” He quit that night. (Life, pg. 248)

My guess is that this is a gross oversimplification and that the truth is more complex. Nevertheless, after less than four months in the band, Gram was out. But it’s pretty cool to see this footage from his brief time as a Byrd.

The Byrds: twitter, amazon, apple, spotify, wiki.

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New Wilder Maker video: Only Child

Video: Wilder Maker – “Only Child”

From the New Streets 7″, out now on Saddle Creek.

I like this song. It’s got cool guitar tones and an easy listening, lite rock vibe that works nicely with the boy/girl vocals and lyrics about “ice cream on the porch swing” and staying up too late, “the world on my screen.”

Wilder Maker: web, twitter, amazon, apple, spotify, wiki.

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We’ll Sweep Out the Ashes…for a Fee

Cremation ad over Parsons video
Gram could have actually used "cremation planning" services.

This is one of those times when my dueling interests collide. While watching a video of Gram Parsons a text ad for cremation services scrolled across the screen. Now, knowing a thing or two about how YouTube’s ad service attempts to match banners to content and known user behavior, this is more than just a creepy coincidence. I mean, what kind of algorithm put these elements together? Or what are Gram Parson’s fans clicking through after watching his videos?

For those who may not know, Gram Parsons had asked to be put to rest in Joshua Tree National Park. When he died at the age of 26, friends kept their promise and “stole” his body from LAX and eventually burned it in the desert. Due to a lack of clarity in the law at the time nobody was charged with a crime and the story now lives in the annals of rock and roll legend.

(Read a cached version of a great telling of the story here)

But how unsettling is this ad matching? What’s next, carpet cleaner over a Kurt Cobain tribute?

Flying Burrito Brothers – Christine’s Tune

Mick Jagger vs. Gram Parsons

Dominique Tarle: Rolling Stones - Keith with Gram Parsons

Photo by Dominique Tarle.

The Observer previews Stones in Exile, the new documentary about the making of Exile on Main Street. It’s a great write-up, pulling lots of great quotes from Keith and the rest of the gang. This part in particular piqued my interest:

Interestingly, the Stones in Exile documentary does not even mention Parsons, whose closeness to Richards rattled the possessive Jagger. “Keith and Gram were intimate like brothers,” says [photographer Dominique] Tarle, “especially musically. The idea was floating around that Gram would produce a Gram Parsons album for the newly formed Rolling Stones Records. Mick, I think, was a little afraid because that would mean that Gram and Keith might even tour together to promote it. And if there is no room for Mick, there is no room also for the Rolling Stones. So, yes, there was tension. You could feel it and I captured it on Mick’s face in some of my pictures.”

Sure, it’s just the interpretation of of events by a photographer who hung out with the band for a while, but still. What if, what if, what if…

Rolling Stones: iTunes, Amazon, Insound, wiki

Gram Parsons: iTunes, Amazon, Insound, wiki

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Exile on Main Street Reissue News

The Rolling Stones - Exile on Main StreetIn a year of amazing classic rock reissues (The Beatles, Neil Young, Big Star…) there’s one glaring omission: The Rolling StonesExile on Main Street.

Last year Reuters reported that Exile was scheduled for a late-2009 release, after the band’s other post-1971 studio albums were trickled out in the spring and summer. The report said that the albums would roll out in three batches:

…grouped by the albums’ original release dates, beginning on May 4 with 1971’s “Sticky Fingers,” 1973’s “Goats Head Soup,” 1974’s “It’s Only Rock’n’Roll” and 1976’s “Black And Blue.”

Four albums — 1978’s “Some Girls,” 1980’s “Emotional Rescue,” 1981’s “Tattoo You” and 1983’s “Undercover” — will roll out on June 8.

The final five — 1986’s “Dirty Work,” 1989’s “Steel Wheels,” 1994’s “Voodoo Lounge,” 1997’s “Bridges To Babylon” and 2005’s “A Bigger Bang” will reach stores on July 8.

All of which seem to have been released as planned. But Exile never did show up.

Now reports are that Exile on Main Street will roll out in May 2010 and will include a number of unreleased songs, including “Plunder My Soul,” “Following The River” and “Sophia Loren.”

Given the significance of the album maybe it’s justified to wait and make a special occasion of its reissue. If the sound quality is anything like the ABKCO reissues from 2002 then it’ll be more than worth the wait, but for heaven’s sake fellas, get on with it!

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Jonathan Richman on Gram Parsons

Gram ParsonsJonathan Richman

It’s always strange to me when after years of admiring two different artists, I find out that they have a connection with each other. Until today, I never realized that Jonathan Richman had been friends with Gram Parsons.

In an interview in the Parsons biography, Grievous Angel, Richman explains the influence Parsons had on him, even turning him on to the Louvin Brothers.

So I listened and they sure were good. He probably got me to listen to more country-western and bluegrass music, that’s for sure. I became a fan of the Country Gentlemen, the group that did “Fox on the Run.” He got me thinking about different kinds of music than what I had been listening to before. One of the things that I like about Gram, is that he really wanted to play. He wanted to talk music and play. He would be invite me back to his little cabin in the backyard of Phil Kaufman’s house and we took out guitars and started playing. I liked that. He didn’t waste time. He wanted to, you know, play. […]

Continued after the jump…

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Sub Pop Looks Back and Offers Discounts

Sub Pop I like this. Sub Pop has a new feature on their site called For the Record that has staffers dig through the back catalog and write up something on the records that move them. This week’s feature is Beachwood Sparks Once We Were Trees, originally released on October 10, 2001.

Once we were Trees was my introduction to much of the country music that I would come to love. Before Beachwood Sparks, I didn’t have a sense of why or Grievous Angel were such revered records, to me they sounded like twangy earaches. It wasn’t an easy sell, in fact, it took a few years following the release of this record to get into a lot of those records, but I attribute OWWT to my love of John Phillips, Graham Parsons [sic], Townes Van Zandt, and The Byrds. They were also an introduction to a family of bands that I’ve come to love quite dearly, including: The Tyde, All Night Radio, Further, Mystic Chords of Memory, and Summer Hits (for more info: The Calming Seas). I owe a lot to this record.

I love the idea of pushing back stock in a way that is relevant to your readers and your business. They clearly have copies of this album laying around that they’d like to unload, but instead of just having a fire sale that slashes the prices of these mostly forgotten releases, we get a little context for why we should buy these records. Oh, and there is a discount: Pick it up through Thursday, July 30 here for $6 on CD/LP or $4 digitally.

MP3: Beachwood Sparks – “Confusion Is Nothing New”

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Flying Burrito Brothers – Long Black Limousine

MP3: The Flying Burrito Brothers – “Long Black Limousine” (live) from Gram Parsons Archives Vol. 1: The Flying Burrito Brothers “Live” at the Avalon 1969, due October 30 on Amoeba Records. The MP3 is only available through August 30, so get it while you can.

The two-disc, 27-track set includes a number of rarities from shows that featured the Burritos opening for the Grateful Dead on April 4, 5 and 6, 1969 at the Avalon Ballroom in San Francisco. The shows were recorded by the legendary sound engineer/chemist Owsley “Bear” Stanley and are, according to Amoeba, “the highest quality Gram Parsons live material available.” More info.

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