On 19th Sept 1973, country rock singer/songwriter Gram Parsons, formerly of The Byrds and The Flying Burrito Brothers, died under mysterious conditions in Joshua Tree, California at the age of 26. His death was attributed to heart failure but later was officially announced as an overdose of morphine and tequila.
And this is where it all gets a bit strange.. ✨🌵
Parsons' body disappeared from the Los Angeles International Airport where it was being readied to be shipped to Louisiana for burial. Prior to his death, Parsons stated that he wanted his body cremated at Joshua Tree and his ashes spread over Cap Rock, a prominent natural feature there; however, Parsons' stepfather arranged for a private ceremony back in New Orleans and neglected to invite any of his friends from the music industry.
To fulfill Parsons' funeral wishes, Phil Kaufman and Michael Martin, a former roadie for The Byrds, stole Parsons' body from the airport and in a borrowed hearse drove it to Joshua Tree where they attempted to cremate it by pouring five gallons of gasoline into the open coffin and throwing a lit match inside. What resulted was an enormous fireball. Police chased them, but the pair got away. The two were arrested several days later and were fined $750 for stealing the coffin. 🔥
The site of Parsons' cremation was marked by a small concrete slab and was presided over by a large rock flake known to rock climbers as "the Gram Parsons memorial hand traverse". The slab has since been removed by the US National Park Service and was relocated to the Joshua Tree Inn which was where he was staying at the time of his death.
He’s been called the father of country rock; he pioneered the concept of a rock band playing country music. Gram was not with us long enough, but he accomplished what he set out to do. He touched a vast array of musicians who have Gram to thank for loosening the invisible, yet powerful, restraints that shackled the music he loved so dearly.
We love this photo of Gram Parsons with the The Flying Burrito Brothers playing at the Altamont Speedway, Livermore, CA December 6, 1969 by Robert Altman ✌️❤️🎵 #gramparsons #joshuatree #robertaltman #rockandroll #blendergallery