Monday, May 9, 2011

A Hickory Wind Blows in The Desert

Joshua Tree Inn

Gram Parsons is not to be confused with early 80's one hit wonder Alan Parsons. But, mention his name and 8 out of 10 people will say "Oh ya, that guy with the Project... Eye in the Sky". That's too bad. Gram Parsons was one of the most influential musicians of our time. Gram's band The Flying Burrito Brothers, his brief stint in The Byrds and collaborations with the Rolling Stones and Emmylou Harris brought rock and country together in a new way. Without Gram Parsons, most people believe Exile on Main Street would sound a lot different. The Eagles certainly owe their fortune to him.

Gram died in 1973 from an overdose of morphine and alcohol while staying in Room 8 at The Joshua Tree Inn in Joshua Tree, California. People now believe they have experienced paranormal activity in this room.

In many ways, this is a typical rock and roll story, but there is much more. At the time of his death, Parsons' stepfather, Bob Parsons, arranged for his body to be flown to New Orleans for a family service. Some believe his motivations were to capitalize on a large family inheritance. But that never came to pass because through a wild turn of events friend Phil Kaufman stole Gram's body. He used a borrowed hearse to take the body from LAX and fulfill Parson's wish to have his ashes scattered over Cap Rock in Joshua Tree National Park. In the middle of the night, next to Cap Rock, five gallons of gasoline in the coffin did the trick. Kaufman never faced repercussions for stealing the body but did get a fine for burning in a national park. Check out the movie Grand Theft Parsons or the book Hickory Wind: The Life and Times of Gram Parsons by Ben Fong-Torres.
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