THE BURRITO BROTHERS
The Legacy, started by Gram Parsons, Continues
Gram Parsons told interviewer Chuck Casell on March 3rd , 1972, “Ian and John (Nuese from The International Submarine Band ) and Mickey (Gauvin, also from ISB ) got together with Barry Tashian of The Remains and Leon (Russell) and other people (LA musicians) like Junior Markham and even Bobby Keys and J.J. Cale. Whoever was around would play and that was called The Flying Burrito Brothers . It was Ian Dunlop’s name originally and I stole it from him.” When the 1st FBB album with Gram was released, Dunlop, Nuese, Tashian and Gauvin were still performing as The Flying Burrito Brothers . They moved to the East coast and there was even one 1969 performance in Boston with both groups on the same bill. The Flying Burrito Brothers opened for The Flying Burrito Brothers !
After two ground-breaking albums (“The Gilded Palace of Sin” and “Burrito DeLuxe”), Parsons left The Flying Burrito Bros . Chris Hillman carried on with Rick Roberts in Gram’s place. Hillman left after the fourth album and Roberts took the helm. The group has never made two albums with the same line-up. In that 1972 Parsons interview, when asked about the group continuing without any of the 1st album members in it, Gram said, “The idea’ll keep going on. It’s not like it’s dead or anything. Whether I do it or anybody else does it, it’s got to keep going.”
1975 saw Joel Scott Hill, Gene Parsons and Gib Guilbeau start anew with 1st album members Chris Ethridge and Sneaky Pete Kleinow. Personnel changed with Skip Battin, John Beland and Greg Harris coming in (and out). Through countless changes, the group continued to carry the torch first lit by Gram Parsons. Chris Hillman bought the trademark in 2010 with no intention of resurrecting the group. He wanted to end it.
But the dream stays alive. A version of the group operated during the first decade of the 2000s as Burrito Deluxe . Sneaky Pete started that up with Garth Hudson, Rick Lonow, Stick Davis and Carlton Moody. Walter Egan and Richard Bell joined, followed by Supe Granda and others. Sneaky Pete died in 2007, and the “Deluxe” band folded in 2009.
The new Burritos came as a result of Del Taylor’s interest in the legacy. Taylor, head of SPV Records in England, asked (Nashville producer, song writer and musician) Fred James about getting The Flying Burrito Brothers to record on his label. Fred started contacting the players (still alive) who were on the earliest records. None had been in the group in over 30 years. Hillman and Ethridge from the 1st album, Bernie Leadon from the 2nd and Rick Roberts from the 3rd are still alive. Al Perkins and Gene Parsons were called too. All said they’d do it if Hillman did. Hillman declined.
Del Taylor was not deterred. He wanted a Burritos on his label. Fred went to “Plan B”. Knowing that I had played with The Burrito Brothers on a number of occasions since 1986, Fred suggested I find guys. He convinced Taylor that I could contact musicians who fit the bill. It had to be veteran hippie-country-rockers, with connections to Burritos past. The best band I could organize would be with guys who were currently active as Nashville pros, still on top of their game, performing and recording regularly.
The Legacy Of Country-Rock!!
The musicians I know with connections to The Burrito Brothers are: Walter Egan (he and I’ve headlined many GP tributes, in the band we call The Grampyres ), Rick Lonow (who has been in more incarnations of the Burritos than anyone), Ron Guilbeau, Al Perkins, Barry Tashian, Michael Curtis, Supe Granda, Jody Maphis, Bill Lloyd, Chris Ethridge and Fred James.
These guys deliver the goods effortlessly, having played with many of the legends of that era, including The Flying Burrito Brothers, Spirit, The Amazing Rhythm Aces, Jackson Browne, Poco, Billy Joe Shaver, The International Submarine Band and many others.
The Burrito Brothers are fronted by Walter Egan, best known for his hit record “Magnet And Steel” and for penning Gram Parsons’ classic duet with Emmy Lou Harris “Hearts On Fire”. Walter is also quite a guitarist, having bent the strings for Jackson Browne, Chris Darrow, Burrito Deluxe and many others.
Drummer Rick Lonow wrote the classic country-rock hit, “Call It Love” for Poco. Rick is a much in demand studio musician and has appeared on albums by no less than Johnny Cash, Waylon Jennings, Lucinda Williams and John Prine.
Chris James is one of Nashville’s busiest sidemen and has played keyboards with everyone from Country icon Bobby Bare to classic rockers The Rascals and even Blues guitar legend Johnny Jones.
Fred James is a five time Grammy nominated songwriter who came to Nashville in the early 1970s and fell in with the new wave of songwriters like Townes Van Zandt, Guy Clark and Billy Joe Shaver. He went on to play with Dr. Hook, The Amazing Rhythm Aces and to produce dozens of Blues and Roots albums.
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