special-effects developer, and steel guitarist from South Bend, Indiana,
who began playing his signature instrument when he was seventeen years
old. Upon graduation, he went
to work for the state highway department of Michigan, where he repaired roads for
about ten years.
In the early
‘60s, he went west to L.A.
where he worked as a jingle-writer and then got into the business of creating
animations and special effects for films such as The Seven Faces of Dr. Lao and The Wonderful World of Brothers Grimm and television programs
like Davey and Goliath, Gumby, and The Outer Limits.
(On Davey and Goliath and Gumby, he used a technique known as
frequently found him performing on the local club circuit, and this is how
he met up with Chris Hillman and Gram Parsons. His first credit as a studio
musician was The Ventures’ 1965 recording of “Blue Star”. In the late ‘60s, he briefly
hooked up with The Byrds, but his inclusion in
the group was snuffed by their leader, Roger McGuinn. Instead, Chris and Gram quit the
band and asked Pete to join The Flying Burrito Brothers in time for their
debut LP, The Gilded Palace of Sin,
in 1969. Other albums on which
he appeared included Burrito Deluxe
and The Flying Burrito Brothers,
in 1970 and 1971, respectively.
He ended his
tenure with the group in April of 1971, then
a group that comprised David Atwood, Steve Ewards,
Laramy Smith, and Andrew Way. It did not keep him out of the
studios, where he contributed his steel-guitar stylings
to albums such as The Bee Gees’ Life
in a Tin Can, Linda Ronstadt’s Heart Like a Wheel, and John Lennon’s Mind Games. He did a quick stint with Cold Steel
and then signed on with a new incarnation of The Flying Burrito Brothers,
appearing on Airborne and Live in Tokyo. In 1978, he released a self-titled
debut album, Sneaky Pete.
His swan song
with FBB was 1981’s Hearts on
the Line, after which he concentrated on his special-effects work in
the film industry. Some of the
movies on which he worked included Caveman,
The Empire Strikes Back, Gremlins, The Right Stuff, The
Terminator, and Under Siege. He also received an Emmy for his
work on the TV mini-series, The Winds
returned to the music studio to record his long-awaited sophomore album, The Legend and the Legacy, in
1994. Once again bitten by the
music bug, he started up another version of FBB, this time known as Burrito
Deluxe, along with Jeff “Stick” Davis, Garth Hudson, Rick Lonow, and Carlton Moody. They released a trio of CDs: Disciples
of the Truth, Georgia Peach,
and The Whole Enchilada.
he suffered from Alzheimer’s and spent his last days in a nursing
home in the town of Petaluma, California, where he
passed away in 2007. His music
lives on in CD form on re-packagings such as Meet Sneaky Pete, Sacred Hearts and Fallen Angels: The Gram Parsons Anthology, and The Very Best of Jackson Browne.
The Burrito Brothers
She’s a Friend of a