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Pocketmags Digital Magazines
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With Gram Parsons at the helm, The Flying Burrito Brothers’ debut release unveiled a groundbreaking vision for a brand new hybrid called country-rock. Five decades on, as Neil Crossley explains, it remains a potent and hugely influential work

Classic Album

Gram Parsons and Chris Hillman bring country-rock to the infamous Altamont Free Concert in December 1969

“Wealthy, alcoholic and suicidal, the Parsons family could have walked straight out of a Tennessee Williams play” CHRIS HILLMAN

For Chris Hillman, the problems all started with the Nudie suits, the dazzling rhinestone-clad outfits created for his band The Flying Burrito Brothers by Hollywood tailor Nudie Cohn. In Hillman’s mind they were the source of the band’s live curse and one reason why their infamous ‘train tour’ of 1969 had descended into a rolling catalogue of cancelled gigs and all-out hedonism.

The drug-addled behaviour of Burritos co-founder Gram Parsons, whose own suit was emblazoned with images of marijuana leaves, pills and naked women, was also starting to grate. To top it all, the band had rounded the year off with a slot at the ill-fated Altamont festival, their innovative brand of music sounding thin and innocuous against the menacing backdrop of violence and bad acid trips.

But in the midst of it all, there was one positive note. The Flying Burrito Brothers had just released The Gilded Palace Of Sin, a groundbreaking debut album of rare vision and depth. The album would go on to influence everyone from the Eagles to Elvis Costello, The Rolling Stones to Ryan Adams, Lucinda Williams to Wilco. 50 years on from its release, it remains as influential and alluring as ever.


As personalities go, the two men who formed the Burritos could not have been more different. Hillman was quiet and had a steadfast work ethic. By contrast, Parsons was mercurial and impulsive. While Hillman had the musical experience, it was Parsons who had the creative power and vision.

Parsons, real name Ingram Cecil Connor III, was born in Winterhaven, Florida in 1946, into an affluent Georgia family. He had all the charm and bearing of a Southern aristocrat and was blessed with a lifelong trust fund, yet his family was plagued by tragedy. “Wealthy, alcoholic and suicidal, the Parsons family could have walked straight out of a Tennessee Williams play,” observed writer Len Lauk in The Rough Guide To Rock.

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About Long Live Vinyl

Issue 24 of Long Live Vinyl is now on sale! Join us as we uncover vinyl’s great lost albums – the 40 essential bootlegs and live records that never got an official release. From David Bowie to Bob Dylan, Johnny Cash, Kraftwerk, Amy Winehouse, Jay-Z and The Beatles, don’t miss our definitive guide. Elsewhere this issue, Mercury Rev tell us about revisiting Bobbie Gentry’s lost classic, The Delta Sweete, and we speak to Julia Jacklin and Fun Lovin’ Criminal Huey Morgan about their brilliant new albums. 1980s pop mastermind Trevor Horn talks us through the 10 records that shaped his remarkable career, we meet the punk labels who are redefining the future of vinyl, celebrate Warp Records’ 30th birthday, look back at the work of the great Andy Warhol, and pay tribute to our Classic Album – The Flying Burrito Brothers’ The Gilded Palace Of Sin. If all that’s not enough, you’ll find the most comprehensive range of new album, reissue and gear reviews anywhere on the newsstand.