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Flying Burrito Brothers

The Flying Burrito Brothers initially referred to an informal group of Los Angeles musicians, notably former members of the International Submarine Band (bass player Ian Dunlop and drummer Mickey Gauvin), the Remains (The) (guitarist/vocalist Barry Tashain and keyboard player Bill Briggs), horn player Junior Markham, saxophonist Bobby Keys, Russell, Leon and Jesse "Ed" Davis. The name was appropriated in 1968 by former Byrds (The) members Parsons, Gram (b. Ingram Cecil Connor III, 5 November 1946, Winter Haven, Florida, USA, d. 19 September 1973, Joshua Tree, California, USA; guitar, vocals) and Hillman, Chris (b. 4 December 1942, Los Angeles, California, USA; guitar, vocals) for a new venture that would integrate rock and country styles. "Sneaky" Pete Kleinow (pedal steel), Chris Ethridge (bass) plus various drummers completed the line-up featured on The Gilded Palace Of Sin, where the founding duo's vision of a pan-American music flourished freely. The material ranged from the jauntily acerbic "Christine's Tune" to the maudlin "Hippy Boy", but its highlights included Parsons' emotional reading of two southern soul standards, "The Dark End Of The Street" and "Do Right Woman - Do Right Man", and his own poignant "Hot Burrito #1" and the impassioned "Hot Burrito #2". The album's sense of cultural estrangement captured a late 60s restlessness and reflected the rural traditions of antecedents the Everly Brothers (The). This artistic triumph was never repeated. Burrito Deluxe, on which guitar player Bernie Leadon (b. 19 July 1947, Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA) replaced Ethridge (Hillman switched to bass) and Michael Clarke (b. Michael Dick, 3 June 1944, Spokane, Washington State, USA, d. 19 December 1993, Treasure Island, Florida, USA), formerly of the Byrds, became the permanent drummer, showed a band unsure of direction as Parsons' role became increasingly questionable. After recording some classic country songs with the band at Hollywood's Sound Factory, Parsons left for a solo career in summer 1970. With the arrival of young songwriter Rick Roberts (b. Florida, USA) the Flying Burrito Brothers again asserted their high quality. The underrated The Flying Burrito Bros was a cohesive, purposeful set, marked by the inclusion of Roberts' "Colorado", Clark, Gene's "Tried So Hard" and Haggard, Merle's "White Line Fever", plus several other excellent Roberts originals. Unfortunately, the band was again bedevilled by defections. In 1971, Leadon joined the Eagles while Kleinow opted for a career in session work, but Hillman, Clarke and Roberts were then buoyed by the arrival of Perkins, Al (pedal steel), Kenny Wertz (guitar), Roger Bush (bass) and Berline, Byron (b. 6 July 1944, Caldwell, Kansas, USA; fiddle) in March 1971. Wertz, Bush and Berline had formed the bluegrass outfit Country Gazette two months earlier, but were persuaded to join the Flying Burrito Brothers. Last Of The Red Hot Burritos captured the excitement and power of their live show, but the septet was sundered in October 1971 when Hillman and Perkins joined Stills, Stephen in Manassas, and Clarke left as well. Roberts, Wertz, Berline and Bush were joined by Alan Munde (banjo), Erik Dalton (drums) and Don Beck (steel guitar) on a tour of Europe, highlights of which were released on the Six Days On The Road: Live In Amsterdam album. After the tour finished, Wertz, Bush, Berline and Munde elected to concentrate on Country Gazette, while Roberts embarked on a solo career before founding Firefall with Michael Clarke. However, much to the consternation of Hillman, former manager Ed Tickner commandeered the Flying Burrito Brothers' name with Kleinow, Ethridge, Parsons, Gene (b. Eugene Victor Parsons, 4 September 1944, Los Angeles, California, USA; guitar, vocals), Joel Scott Hill (vocals), and Gib Guilbeau (b. Floyd Guilbeau, 26 September 1937, Sunset, Louisiana, USA; fiddle). This new line-up signed a deal with Columbia Records and released the lacklustre Flying Again in October 1975. Ethridge was replaced by Battin, Skip (b. Clyde Battin, 2 February 1934, Galipolis, Ohio, USA; ex-Byrds) for the following year's Airborne. Hill, Guilbeau and Kleinow subsequently formed Sierra with Thad Maxwell (bass) and Mickey McGee (drums). After one unsuccessful album for Mercury Records, Guilbeau, Kleinow, McGee reunited with Parson and Battin to tour Europe and Japan as the Flying Burrito Brothers. Two live albums ( Flying High and Close Encounters To The West Coast ) document this period. Guitarist/vocalist Greg Harris was added to the line-up for further tours, but by the time the band enjoyed a surprise minor US country hit with a live version of "White Line Fever" (included on the Live From Tokyo album), Parsons, Harris and McGee had gone their separate ways. The arrival of country veteran John Beland (b. 1949, Hometown, Chicago, Illinois, USA), who had played with Guilbeau in Swampwater, provided the group with a proven songwriter worthy of the earlier pioneering line-up. Now recording as the Burrito Brothers, the new line-up signed a contract with Curb Records and, in 1981, enjoyed Top 20 success on the country charts with the slick country pop of "Does She Wish She Was Single Again" and "She Belongs To Everyone But Me". Battin objected to the new sound and left during the recording of Hearts On The Line, and Kleinow elected to stay in Los Angeles and concentrate on film work. Beland and Guilbeau relocated to Nashville in a desperate attempt to revive their flagging fortunes, but the Scruggs, Randy -produced sessions for their third Curb album remained unreleased until several years later. While the Burrito Brothers were on their last legs, a varying line-up of Gene Parsons, Kleinow, Battin, Harris, and drummers Ed Ponder and Jim Goodall had begun touring as the Peace Seekers. When the Burrito Brothers split up in 1985, Kleinow reclaimed the Flying Burrito Brothers and toured with Battin, Harris and Goodall, a line-up captured on the Relix Records releases Cabin Fever and Encore: Live From Europe. At the same time, Beland and Guilbeau briefly reuinted to record a last Burrito Brothers album. The latter also recorded several demos with Kleinow in Memphis, later released on Southern Tracks. In 1989, Beland and Guilbeau joined up with Kleinow, Larry Patton (bass, vocals) and Rick Lenow (drums) under the Flying Burrito Brothers name. In 1991, Beland, Guilbeau, Kleinow, Brian Cadd (b. 29 November 1949, Perth, Australia; keyboards), George Grantham (b. 20 November 1947, Cordell, Oklahoma, USA; drums, also of Poco ), and the returning Chris Ethridge recorded an album, released two years later as Eye Of The Hurricane. Larry Patton and drummer Gary Kubal joined Beland, Guilbeau, Kleinow on the next album, 1997's California Juxebox. Guilbeau and Kleinow subsequently departed, meaning no original members participated on the recording of Sons Of The Golden West.

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