The Flying Burrito Brothers
|The Flying Burrito Brothers|
The Flying Burrito Brothers in 1971
|Labels||A&M, Columbia, Curb|
|Associated acts||The International Submarine Band
The Desert Rose Band
|Past members||Chris Hillman
Sneaky Pete Kleinow
Floyd "Gib" Guilbeau
Joel Scott Hill
The Flying Burrito Brothers were an early country rock band, best known for its influential debut album, The Gilded Palace of Sin (1969).1 Although the group is most often mentioned in connection with country rock legends Gram Parsons and Chris Hillman, the group underwent many personnel changes.
The Flying Burrito Brothers were founded in 1968 on the West Coast of the United States by former Byrds members Gram Parsons and Chris Hillman,2 as well as pianist and bassist Chris Ethridge and pedal steel guitarist Sneaky Pete Kleinow. The group borrowed their name from an East Coast-based group of the same name who had been colleagues of Parsons' previous band, the International Submarine Band. The group recorded their debut album The Gilded Palace of Sin without a regular drummer, although "Fast" Eddie Hoh and Jon Corneal were both occasional full-time members during the early days of the band and both are featured on this album. The album contains originals by Parsons and Hillman, and two covers by soul music writers Dan Penn and Chips Moman. After firing Corneal the band needed a permanent drummer for touring purposes; they hired another ex-Byrd, Michael Clarke, who had recently been working with the Dillard and Clark Expedition.
Although critically well received, The Gilded Palace of Sin did not sell well.3 Ethridge departed in mid-1969, and Hillman moved to bass as the band hired singer and guitarist Bernie Leadon. The band performed at the Altamont Free Concert in December 1969, and, as documented in the film Gimme Shelter, the band was on stage when fights broke out in the audience.
Owing to disagreements between Parsons and Hillman, the band's next album, Burrito Deluxe, included few collaborations between the pair. Parsons left the group after its release in May 1970.4 A version of the group without Parsons appeared in June–July 1970 on the Festival Express tour of Canada, documented in the film of the same name. Gram was later replaced by Rick Roberts, with the new line-up releasing the self-titled album, The Flying Burrito Bros, in 1971. Kleinow then left to become a session musician, and Leadon departed to create the Eagles.5 Al Perkins and Kenny Wertz replaced them, and Roger Bush and Byron Berline participated as guests in live performances, with the band releasing a live album, Last of the Red Hot Burritos, in 1972.
The original band dissolved after the last founding member, Chris Hillman, took Perkins with him to join Manassas. Berline, Bush and Wertz continued with their own band, Country Gazette. Roberts assembled a makeshift Flying Burrito Bros group to fulfill contractual commitments for some 1973 European live shows, then initiated a solo career before forming Firefall with Michael Clarke.
As Gram Parsons' influence and fame grew, so did interest in the Flying Burrito Brothers. This new-found popularity led to the release of Close Up the Honky Tonks in 1974, a double-LP compilation of album tracks, B-sides, and out-takes, followed by the re-creation of the band by Kleinow and Ethridge in 1975. Floyd "Gib" Gilbeau, Joel Scott Hill, and Gene Parsons (no relation to Gram) also joined the group, and the band released Flying Again that year. Ethridge was then replaced by Skip Battin for 1976's Airborne, followed by an album of previously unreleased early material, Sleepless Nights. The lineup continued to evolve for the rest of the 1970s with the band even releasing an album under the name Sierra, while continuing to play shows as The Flying Burrito Brothers. In 1980, they had a country hit with a version of Merle Haggard's "White Line Fever" from their Live In Tokyo live album of the previous year.
The early 1980s were a period of commercial success for the band that coincided with the band being known simply as "The Burrito Brothers." Headed by songwriter and guitarist John Beland, Gib Guilbeau, and initially Sneaky Pete, the Burrito Brothers scored well on the country charts. Skip Battin had remained with the band up until this point but left shortly before the release of 1981's Hearts On The Line This marked the first significant commercial chart success the band ever had. In 1981 they received the Billboard Magazine award for "Best New Crossover Group" from pop to country. The Burrito Brothers continued to work with the top session players in Nashville and Los Angeles, logging up an impressive list of hit singles for Curb Records. In the 80's they toured Europe and were featured at the Albi Nashville Festival in Albi, France, and performed with Emmylou Harris, Jerry Lee Lewis, and Tammy Wynette at London's Wembley Stadium. Also in the early 1980s, the Burrito Brothers were responsible for a campaign that finally saw their idol, Lefty Frizzell, inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame. In 1982, Sneaky Pete, the sole original member, departed prior to the release of Sunset Sundown. In 1984, Beland and Guilbeau retired the Burritos and afforded Sneaky Pete the chance to reform essentially the late 70's lineup with Skip Battin and Greg Harris that continued to tour and release live albums for the rest of the 80's.
In 1991 a lineup consisting of Beland, Guilbeau, Ethridge, Sneaky Pete, and Australian singer Brian Cadd began work on a new album, Eye of a Hurricane. The band went without a regular drummer and used session drummer Ron Tutt who had previously played with Elvis Presley. The band soon parted ways with Ethridge for a third time and Cadd as well. Ethridge was replaced by Larry Patton and Gary Kubal was added as a full-time drummer. This lineup released California Jukebox in 1997. At this time Gib Guilbeau and Sneaky Pete stopped working with the group due to health concerns. Sneaky Pete was replaced by Wayne Bridges and the band released 1999's Sons of the Golden West which, while receiving solid critical reviews, would prove to be the final album by the Flying Burrito Brothers as John Beland decided to end the band shortly after the turn of the millennium.
Sneaky Pete then created a new Burrito project in 2002. This band was called Burrito Deluxe due to John Beland still having rights to the original name. This band featured Carlton Moody on lead vocals and Garth Hudson from The Band on keyboards. Burrito Deluxe gained no chart success from the three albums they released and relied mostly on live appearances in Europe. Sneaky Pete left the band due to illness in 2005, leaving no direct lineage to any of the original 1969-1972 lineup. His final recordings do appear, however, on their 2007 album Disciples of Truth. In 2010, an English record label owner named Del Taylor attempted to reactivate the band using any and all previous members he could find. Bernie Leadon, Chris Ethridge, Al Perkins, and Gene Parsons all agreed if Chris Hillman would join. Hillman was not interested in the project and instead took steps to acquire the rights to the "The Flying Burrito Brothers" so that he could retire the band once and for all. His efforts were in vain, however. As recently as 2011, a still-further evolution of the band, led by Walter Egan from Burrito Deluxe, released an album under the name "The Burritos" called Sound as Ever. As of 2012, that band has been playing shows under the name "The Burrito Brothers".6
Parsons died on September 19, 1973. Clarke died in 1993, Battin died in 2003, Kleinow died in 2007, and Ethridge died in 2012.
Hillman remained a successful singer-songwriter, having been part of the Souther-Hillman-Furay Band and McGuinn-Clark-Hillman, then going on to form the Desert Rose Band (1986–93) with Herb Pedersen. He continued to sing with Pedersen as Chris and Herb, releasing The Other Side in 2005.
Guilbeau retired following heart surgery and moved to Palmdale, California, from where he continued to appear occasionally at local functions in and around the Los Angeles area. Beland continued to produce acts in the USA and abroad, achieving hit records in both Australia and Norway, where he also performed as a solo act. Beland moved to Brenham, Texas and has written hits for performers such as The Whites with "Forever You", Mark Farner with "Isn't It Amazing?", and the Bellamy Brothers with "Cowboy Beat", "Hard Way To Make An Easy Living", and "Bound To Explode". His songs have been covered by many acts from Ricky Nelson to Garth Brooks.
A Mexican restaurant in Gainesville, Florida, was named after the band.7
A chain of Mexican restaurants in New Zealand was named after the band.
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As the band has evolved, it has released albums under a variety of names:
- The Gilded Palace of Sin (1969)
- Burrito Deluxe (1970)
- The Flying Burrito Bros (1971)
- Flying Again (1975)
- Airborne (1976)
- Eye of a Hurricane (1994)
- California Jukebox (1997)
- Sons of the Golden West (aka Honky Tonkin') (1999)
- Sierra (1977)
- Sound As Ever (2011)
- Last of the Red Hot Burritos (1972)
- Live in Amsterdam (1972)
- Blue-Grass Special (Same concert as Live in Amsterdam, some new tracks) (1974)
- Sin City (1976)
- Flying Burrito Brothers '76 (1976)
- From Another Time (1976)
- Close Encounters on the West Coast (1978)
- Live from Tokyo (1979)
- Hollywood Nights 1979-82 (1983)
- Cabin Fever (1985)
- Live from Europe (1986)
- Gram Parsons Archives Vol.1: Live at the Avalon Ballroom 1969 (2007)
- Authorized Bootleg: Fillmore East, NY, NY Late Show 11/07/70 (2011)
- Close Up the Honky Tonks (1974)
- Sleepless Nights (1976)
- Farther Along: The Best of the Flying Burrito Brothers (A&M) (1988)
- Back to the Sweethearts of the Rodeo (1990)
- Double Barrel (1995, Recorded 1984)
- Best of the Flying Burrito Brothers (Relix Records) (1995)
- Out of the Blue (1996)
- The Gilded Palace of Sin & Burrito Deluxe (A&M) (1997)
- Hot Burritos! The Flying Burrito Brothers Anthology 1969–1972 (2000)
- Sin City: The Very Best of the Flying Burrito Brothers (2002)
|1971||"White Line Fever"||95||Flying Burrito Bros.|
|1981||"She's a Friend of a Friend"||67||Hearts on the Line|
|"Does She Wish She Was Single Again"||20|
|"She Belongs to Everyone but Me"||16|
|1982||"If Something Should Come Between Us (Let It Be Love)"||27||Sunset Sundown|
|"Closer to You"||40|
|"I'm Drinkin' Canada Dry"||39|
|"Blue and Broken Hearted Me"||48||singles only|
|1984||"Almost Saturday Night"||49|
|"My Kind of Lady"||53|
- Biog, allmusic.com
- THE FLYING BURRITO BROTHERS ebni.com (ByrdWatcher)
- "Time for a Repress: The Gilded Palace of Sin", Bob Proehl, 2009
- Icons of Rock, Scott Schinder
- Country, Richard Carlin
- "Who We Are". Burrito Bros Taco Company. Retrieved 22 October 2013.
- "Brother Flying Burrito". Retrieved 22 October 2013.