Sunday, September 19, 2010

RIP Gram Parsons

On September 19, 1973, Gram Parsons died of a drug overdose caused by a mixture of drugs and alcohol in a motel room in Joshua Tree, California, at the age of 26.

Parsons was a former member of The International Submarine Band, The Bryds and The Flying Burrito Brothers as well as one of the founding fathers of alt-country. After being fired from The Flying Burrito Brothers he signed with A&M Records, but cancelled his solo debut in 1971 and moved to Paris with Keith Richards. When he returned to the States, he met Emmylou Harris and recorded his first solo album, GP, which was released in 1973. The album received great reviews but never made it onto the charts. In 1974, Grievous Angel was released and and only reached #195 on Billboard.  It wasn't until after his death when he gained the recognition that he deserved. In 2003, the Americana Music Awards honored him with the "President's Award" and Rolling Stone listed Parsons as one of the 100 Most Influential Artists of All Time.

Sadly, the circumstances of Parsons' death and the controversy surrounding his death have made him infamous. Before his death, Parsons told his friend, Phil Kaufman, that when he died he wanted his friends to have a drink and cremate his body at the Joshua Tree National Monument. However, his stepfather wanted the body shipped to Louisiana to strengthen his chances to receive Parsons' estate. Knowing that Parsons was not close with his stepfather and that this was not his wish, Kaufman and a few others stole his body from LAX, took it to Joshua Tree and burnt it.

Despite the mythic story of his death, Parsons should be remembered for his work in country music and the unique sound he called "Cosmic American Music" which combined blues, country and folk. Gram Parsons had a sincere and emotional voice that enhanced his songs about life, love, and the spiritual. His music varied with a honky-tonk quality, rock character, and a gospel feel, but, yet, it was one distinct style.

Today, Gram Parsons has yet to be inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame. On September 19, 2009, a petition for his induction was presented to the Country Music Association and the Hall of Fame by the Gram Parsons Petition Project (G3P). However, his induction and nomination is hotly contested by those who feel that he has impacted rock music more than country, which obviously isn't true. He has greatly influenced many different genres and countless musicians from all over the world.

Read more on his outrageous death at "The Strange Death of Gram Parsons: 1973"

1 comment:

  1. I love Gram. Didn't know about the petition to get him in the Country Music Hall of Fame. Certainly should be there.