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ABOUT GRAM PARSONS

(1946 – 1973)
Gram Parsons was born Cecil Ingram Connors on November 5, 1946 in Winterhaven, Florida. His parents were Avis Snively Connors, (whose family made a fortune in the citrus business) and Cecil “Coon Dog” Connors, of Waycross, Georgia. Gram’s father died on Christmas Day, 1959. Two years later his mother married Robert Ellis Parsons of New Orleans, who formally adopted the then 15-year-old Gram and his younger sister Avis. Cecil Ingram Connor became Gram Parsons.
Gram formed his first band, The Pacers, when he was 12 years old. The Pacers played mainly Buddy Holly covers. His next band, The Legends, was a folk group with members Jim Stafford and Kent Lavoie. In 1963, Gram then formed the band Shiloh with members Paul Surratt, Joe Kelly, and George Wrigley.
Then in 1965, Gram briefly attended Harvard University. From all accounts, Gram spent far more time on music then he did on his studies. It was at Harvard, though, that Gram met the Reverend James Ellison Thomas (“Jet”), Gram’s freshman advisor, who would soon become one of Gram’s closest lifelong friends. It was also during Gram’s time at Harvard that Gram formed the original International Submarine Band and it was not long thereafter that Gram and the band moved to Los Angeles to record their acclaimed album “Safe at Home” produced by Lee Hazelwood.
In 1968, Gram joined the Byrds and recorded with them the acclaimed classic “Sweetheart of the Rodeo” album — the Byrds’ only country themed album and considered a classic today. After the recording of the “Sweetheart” album, Gram left the Byrds to form the Flying Burrito Brothers in 1969 with Chris Hillman, Chris Ethridge, Sneaky PeteKleinow and later, Michael Clarke. The Flying Burrito Brothers soon after recorded their debut album “Gilded Palace of Sin “ andset out to tour the American Southwest, playing local gigs. In 1970, the Burritos recorded their follow up album “Burrito Deluxe”, also to wide acclaim. It was later in 1970 that a series of events again changed Gram’s aspirations: Gram had a motorcycle accident; Gram left the band; and Gram married model Gretchen Burrell, in a ceremony performed by his Harvard friend Jet Thomas. The Parsons honeymooned at Disneyland and spent time with friends in both Europe and the United States. It was during one of Gram’s visits to Europe that Gram befriended members of the Rolling Stones while they were recording “Exile on Main Street”. Gram’s country influence on the recording of the “Exile” album is clearly evident throughout.
In 1972 Gram Parsons met Emmylou Harris and asked her to provide harmony vocals on his first solo album, “GP”, for Warner Bros. Also recruited for the album were three members of Elvis Presley’s band, James Burton, Glen D Hardin, and Ronnie Tutt. Musician Barry Tashian was enlisted as well. Later, Burton, Hardin and Tashian would all go on to become members of Emmylou Harris’s Hot Band.
1973 found Gram, Emmylou, and Gram’s new band the Fallen Angels touring the U.S. and recording Gram’s next solo album “Grievous Angel.”
On September 19, 1973, while on vacation, Gram died in a motel in Joshua Tree, CA, a hauntingly beautiful part of the Mojave/Sonoran Deserts. Gram’s friend Phil Kaufman then stole Gram’s body and burned it in the Joshua Tree National Monument, fulfilling a pact that he and Gram had made.
In January 1974, Gram’s “Grievous Angel” album was posthumously released, today widely regarded another Gram Parsons’ classic.
The long list of musicians Gram Parson influenced includes, but is not limited to, Elvis Costello, Ryan Adams, U2, Rodney Crowell, Dave Edmunds, The Jayhawks, Marty Stuart, Black Crowes, The Lemonheads, Nick Lowe, Uncle Tupelo, Son Volt, Tom Petty, The Eagles, The Rolling Stones, and of course, Emmylou Harris who has since carried Gram’s musical vision to fruition and beyond.
For further reading on the music pioneer Gram Parsons’, look for the titles: “Gram Parsons: A Music Biography” by Sid Griffin, or “Hickory Wind: The Life and Times of Gram Parsons” by Ben Fong-Torres. Also “Road Mangler Deluxe” written by Gram’s friend Phil Kaufman is another great read and insight into the legend that is Gram Parsons
Much of Gram’s recorded work can also be found on the Sierra Records label. Sierra Records offers not only Sierra releases (Gram Parsons, Clarence White, Gene Parsons, etc.) but many other CDs, tapes, books, and the like, both domestic and import, on this genre of music.

Information on Sierra records can be found at the following websites:
https://www.amoeba.com/music/label/51495#/ and at
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sierra_Records

Gram Parsons Partial Discography
  • Gram Parsons The Early Years 1963-1965 – Sierra Briar SRS8702
  • Gram Parsons – Shiloh SLP 4088
  • Sweetheart Of The Rodeo – The Byrds – Columbia 9670
  • The Gilded Palace of Sin – The Flying Burrito Brothers – A&M SP 3122
  • Close Up the Honky Tonks – The Flying Burrito Brothers – 1968-1972 – A&M SP-3631
  • GP – Warner MS2123
  • Gram Parsons and the Fallen Angels-Live 1973 – Sierra GP1973
  • Grievous Angel – Reprise MS2171
  • Sleepless Nights – A&M SP4578