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Posts Tagged ‘Gram Parsons’

“I had done some country [music], but more sort of tongue-in-cheek.  I didn’t really think I had a talent for country. I don’t think I was really interested in doing country until I met Gram [Parsons] and he really made me see the subtleties of it and the poetry in it. And singing with him I think really taught me how to sing.”
14-time Grammy-winning singer/songwriter Emmylou Harris

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Last night I went to a young musician showcase at Gram Parsons’ Derry Down in Winter Haven, Florida (about an hour west of Orlando). The venue is named after Gram Parsons who was born in Winter Haven and used to play in that building back in the 1960s.

Parsons went on to be in two bands (The Byrds, the Flying Burrito Brothers) who were influential in what would be known as folk rock and country rock/alt-country. Bernie Leadon he became a founding member of the Eagles when they formed in 1970.

“I think in particular, Poco and the Flying Burrito Brothers were influences on us because they were right there at the Troubadour. We got to see them play live and watch what they were doing and check out the harmonies and check out the songs they were writing or doing.”
Glenn Frey of the Eagles

Parsons died in 1973 at age 26 cutting short his opportunity to be more widely remembered for his music than his influence. He did spend some time on the folk music scene in Boston with the International Submarine Band. His last band was Fallen Angels. And somewhere in between, he became friends Keith Richards of the Rolling Stones who said Parsons was a “natural soul brother.”

“I think [Parsons] was just getting into his stride when he died. His actual output — the number of records he made and sold — was pretty minimal. But his effect on country music is enormous. This is why we’re talking about him now. But we can’t know what his full impact could have been.”
Keith Richards
Rolling Stone magazine, “100 Greatest Artists” (Parsons was listed as #87)

P.S. Singer/songwriter Jim Stafford, known for his ’70s hit songs Spiders and Stakes and Wildwood Weed, and who has a theater in Branson, is also from Winter Haven and played in a band with Parsons when they were in high school.

Scott W. Smith

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