Archive for Chris Hillman

Video of the Week: Desert Rose Band & Roger McGuinn

Posted in Rock Moment with tags , , , , on February 2, 2011 by 30daysout

From 1990, a show on the old Nashville Network: former Byrds frontman Roger McGuinn joins the Desert Rose Band, led by another ex-Byrd, Chris Hillman.  McGuinn possesses the weirdest stare and the neatest mullet I’ve seen in years.  They’re doin’ “You Ain’t Goin’ Nowhere,” the Bob Dylan gem cut by the Byrds on their classic 1968 album Sweetheart Of The Rodeo.

The song title is dedicated to all our friends up north, who are snowed in and home from work.  If you’re in Austin and looking to get out of the cold tonight, check out Chris Hillman and Herb Pedersen, live at the Cactus Cafe on the University of Texas campus.

Your Sister’s (Record) Rack: The Flying Burrito Brothers

Posted in Rock Classics! with tags , , , , , , on March 8, 2010 by 30daysout

Today’s album is from 1972: Last Of The Red Hot Burritos, the live fourth album by country rock pioneers the Flying Burrito Brothers.  The Burritos were formed, of course, in 1969 by former Byrds Gram Parsons and Chris Hillman, along with steel guitarist “Sneaky” Pete Kleinow and bassist Chris Etheridge.  Parsons left after the second album, and he was replaced by guitarist and songwriter Bernie Leadon.  Another ex-Byrd, Michael Clarke, was recruited to keep time on drums.

By the time this album was recorded, Kleinow and Leadon had left the band (Leadon to join the fledgling Eagles), leaving Chris Hillman as the sole founding member.  In their places, Hillman recruited Al Perkins (guitar/steel guitar) and Kenny Wertz (banjo) and added guest musicians Byron Berline (fiddle) and Roger Bush (upright bass) for a 1971 tour.  This lineup toured until Hillman left the band in October, leaving the rights to the band’s name to Rick Roberts.  Once Hillman departed, A&M Records lost faith in the group and instead of allowing a Roberts-led version of the band (with no founding members) to record a new studio album, A&M released this live recording instead which fulfilled the band’s contract before they were subsequently dropped from the label.

Nevertheless, Last Of The Red Hot Burritos is a fiery farewell, and Hillman naturally shifts the focus toward more traditional country and bluegrass.   The record is evenly divided with rocked-up versions of Burrito originals and country standards and pure bluegrass like “Orange Blossom Special” and “Dixie Breakdown.”  And there’s “Don’t Fight It,” a soul standard written by Wilson Pickett/Steve Cropper but turned into a country rocker by the Burritos.

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Lost Classics! “Sweetheart Of The Rodeo,” The Byrds

Posted in Lost Classics! with tags , , , , , , , , , on April 13, 2009 by 30daysout


Sweetheart Of The Rodeo, the Byrds’ sixth studio album from 1968, is justifiably famous because it features singer/songwriter Gram Parsons on his only album with the band.  Parsons, later to found the Flying Burrito Brothers, would spend only six months as a Byrd, but it was a tumultuous six months indeed.

At the time the album was recorded, the only remaining Byrds from the original lineup were Roger McGuinn and Chris Hillman.  Hillman recruited Parsons, and with drummer Kevin Kelley and guitarist Clarence White, the Byrds (at the urging of Parsons) went to Nashville to record the album.  McGuinn’s original concept was a wide range of music including old-timey gospel and country evolving into futuristic “space” music.  Thankfully, Parsons and Hillman tipped the scales in favor of the prescient country rock that the album became.

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Lost Classics! Leftover Burritos

Posted in Lost Classics! with tags , , , , , , , , , on March 8, 2009 by 30daysout

The Flying Burrito Brothers, 1975

The Flying Burrito Brothers were, of course, the pioneering country rock band that made a few landmark albums then broke up, spawning dozens of imitators in the 1970s.  The original lineup of the Burritos (formed 1968) is the most famous, with a lineup featuring singer Gram Parsons, multi-instrumentalist Chris Hillman and steel guitar virtuoso “Sneaky” Pete Kleinow.  Although all of the original members left the Burritos by 1972, the band – sometimes literally in name only – soldiered on for decades.

Hillman was the only original member left by the time red_hotof the live album Last Of The Red Hot Burritos (1972); the band included lead singer Rick Roberts (later of Firefall) and ex-Byrds drummer Michael Clarke.  Hillman left the band right about the time this album was released.  Roberts augmented the Burritos with fiddles and steel and continued playing live shows; one of the showcases was his signature song “Colorado,” which appeared on the Burritos’ third studio LP (1970).

Gram Parsons died of an overdose in 1974 and re-kindled interest in the band.  Sneaky Pete Kleinow and original bassist Chris Ethridge came back and enlisted latter-day Byrds drummer Gene Parsons (no relation to Gram) and fiddler Floyd “Gib” Guilbeau along with Joel Scott Hill, formerly of Canned Heat.  They cut two studio albums, Flying Again (1975) and Airborne (1976), which were critically derided and slickly produced.  Neither album failed to make a spark, and the band broke up – again.

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Repost: Lost Classics! The Flying Burrito Brothers

Posted in Lost Classics! with tags , , , , on February 6, 2009 by 30daysout

In 1968 Gram Parsons and Chris Hillman managed to transform the Byrds into a country rock band for the landmark Sweetheart Of The Rodeo album.  Then they both left the Byrds to start the Flying Burrito Brothers, with the intention of mixing country and rock even more.  The Flying Burrito Brothers’ brand of country rock proved to be one of the more influential and imitated styles of the era.  However Parsons only stayed with the Burritos for two albums and by 1972 the original incarnation of the band dissolved, leaving only wannabes and pretenders to carry on the Flying Burrito Brothers name.

After recording two solo albums, founding member Gram Parsons died in 1973 from an overdose of morphine and tequila.  Responding to new interest in the band A&M Records released the two-LP compilation Close Up The Honky Tonks with one record’s worth of songs from the first two albums, 1969’s Gilded Palace of Sin and 1970’s Burrito Deluxe. The second record contained previously unreleased tracks, the first five of which were recorded during Parsons’ time with the band, while the last six were recorded after Parsons left the group and Hillman was the key player. Close Up The Honky Tonks has long been out of print, and while there are a number of Burrito CD compilations the original 1974 LP contains a handful of songs that are still unavailable on any other U.S. release to this day.

The song “Close Up The Honky Tonks” features Gram Parsons on vocals, and was recorded during his final months with the band; this does also appear on the Hot Burritos! anthology CD.  ” Break My Mind” was a single also featuring Parsons on lead vocals.  The rest of these songs feature Rick Roberts on lead vocals and do not appear anywhere else.  The instrumental “Beat The Heat,” written by steel guitarist “Sneaky” Pete Kleinow, was one of his first and only compositions.  Kleinow died of Alzheimer’s disease in 2007.

MP3: “Close Up The Honky Tonks”

MP3: “Beat The Heat”

MP3: “Break My Mind”

MP3: “Roll Over Beethoven” (live)

MP3: “Wake Up Little Susie” (live)

MP3: “Bony Moronie” (live)

Lost Classics! McGuinn, Clark & Hillman

Posted in Lost Classics! with tags , , , , , , on January 21, 2009 by 30daysout


In the late 1970s, country rock had pretty much run the course – the Eagles had appropriated the best parts of the genre and their watered down music reigned from the top of the charts.  The true innovators like Roger McGuinn, Gene Clark and Chris Hillman of the Byrds were left to cash in endlessly on their past reputations by playing their old songs as part of ridiculous package tours.

That’s where these boys found themselves in 1977, fronting their respective bands on a European jaunt.  The promoter had visions of people coming out in hopes of seeing a reunion; it didn’t happen for the most part, but the three did get together in London and that show was heavily bootlegged.  Gene Clark, although he had the best voice of the three, was the most unstable – he had legendary bouts of stage fright and an overwhelming inferiority complex that led him to quit the Byrds years before.

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Lost Classics! The Byrds

Posted in Lost Classics! with tags , , , , , on October 13, 2008 by 30daysout

When the hype arrived in 1972, it was almost too much to believe: the five original Byrds were going to reunite for a new album.  For years the group had limped along under the Byrds banner, with original member Roger McGuinn heading a lineup that was sometimes brilliant (Gram Parsons, Clarence White) and sometimes shaky (Skip Battin). 

After having not played together since 1965, The Byrds’ original lineup – McGuinn, Chris Hillman, Gene Clark, Michael Clarke and David Crosby – came together at the urging of Crosby, who was hot at the time (Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young) and wanted a chance to lead his former band.  The resulting album, simply titled Byrds, came out in 1973 on Asylum Records, run by up-and-coming mogul David Geffen.

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