and singer-songwriter from Los
who started out with The Scottsville Squirrel Barkers and appeared on their
1962 album, Bluegrass Favorites.
He then joined The Golden State Boys and they morphed into The Hillmen.
The Hillmen released one eponymous album
and then folded in 1963.
performing with The Green Grass Revival, Chris was recruited by Hillmen producer Jim Dickson to form a new group, The
Beefeaters, along with Gene Clark, David Crosby, and Roger McGuinn. The
group’s inaugural release came and went with little fanfare, and
after adding percussionist Michael Clarke to their ranks, they changed
their name to The Byrds.
In 1965, The Byrds covered Bob Dylan’s song, “Mr.
Tambourine Man”, and they were officially on the map. Other hits from this time period
included: “Eight Miles
High”, “So You Want to Be a Rock ‘n’ Roll Star”,
and “Turn! Turn! Turn!” David and Gene left the band and
only Chris, Michael, and Roger were left standing in 1967. Roger recruited pianist Gram Parsons
to replace David, and Michael was eventually supplanted by Chris’s
cousin, Kevin Kelley. In 1968,
they recorded Sweethearts of the
Rodeo, and it is considered to be the seminal country-rock album. Unfortunately, its success was soured
by Gram’s departure over a disagreement about whether to perform in South Africa. It was, for all intents and
purposes, the end of The Byrds.
in Gram’s footsteps, and they joined The Flying Burrito Brothers,
which comprised Jon Corneal, Chris Ethridge, and “Sneaky”
Pete Kleinow. During his time with FBB, they
released four albums: Burrito Deluxe, The Flying Burrito Brothers, The Gilded Palace of Sin, and Last of the Red Hot Burritos.
Gram quit the
band in 1971 and Chris went on to co-found Manassas with Stephen
Stills. They made their mark
and then broke up in 1973. After
a short Byrds reunion,
Chris added his surname to a new trio, the Souther-Hillman-Furay
Band, an ill-fated endeavour that failed to translate into success in spite
of the considerable talent of its individuals. J.D. Souther
was more of a solo artist and soon Chris followed suit, releasing a couple
of albums in the mid-‘70s, Clear
Sailin’ and Slippin’ Away.
It was not
long before he joined another trio, McGuinn, Clark & Hillman, and they issued a trio of
LPs and enjoyed two top-ten hits.
They broke up in the early ‘80s and Chris released another
solo effort, Morning Sky. It was followed by Desert Rose in 1984.
In 1986, Chris
and Herb Pedersen started The Desert Rose Band, along with Bill Bryson,
Steve Duncan, John Jorgenson, and Jay Dee Maness. They released a self-titled album in
1987 and topped the charts with “He’s Back and I’m Blue”. “Love Reunited” and “One
Step Forward” reached the top ten. Their album Running yielded more hits:
“I Still Believe in You” enjoyed the view from the top
of the country chart and “She Don’t Love Nobody” and “Summer
Wind” squeezed into the top five. Chris moonlighted with Roger and
they recorded “You Ain’t Going
Nowhere” which did go somewhere, ending up in the top ten. In 1989, The Desert Rose Band
released Pages of Love which
resulted in more top-ten successes in the form of “Start All Over
Again” and “Story of Love”.
The band was
showered with awards in the late ‘80s and early ‘90s, winning
of Country Music’s
Touring Band of the Year in three consecutive years and the Country Music
Association’s Horizon Award and Vocal Group of the Year in 1989 and
1990, respectively. Around this
time, Chris reunited with David to once again re-form The Byrds, and they were enshrined in the Rock & Roll
Hall of Fame in 1991.
his tenure with The Desert Rose Band in 1994, although he and Herb released
another album, Bakersfield Bound. Its follow-up, Like a Hurricane, blew through the record stores in 1998. Larry and Tony Rice joined them for Rice, Rice, Hillman and Pedersen in
1999, and this was followed by Running
Wild in 2001. Chris and
Herb released Way Out West in
In 2004, Chris
received a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Americana Music Association. The Scottsville Squirrel Barkers
received similar kudos from the City of San Diego, and this was coupled with a
Roots Award for Chris from the Mojo Honours
In 2005, Chris
released a solo CD, The Other Side,
which featured material ranging from The Byrds to
The Desert Rose Band. The
Desert Rose Band got back together on 2nd May 2008, at Nashville, Tennessee’s
Station Inn. The success of
this concert led to a U.S.
tour, and much of this series of live concerts was captured on CD. Chris had back surgery at the
beginning of 2010 but continued to tour with Herb Pedersen and The Desert