and singer-songwriter from Los Angeles, California, who had a long-standing
musical partnership with Gib Guilbeau
and followed in his footsteps to join The Castaways in 1963. It was a short-lived experiment that
ended with the group members pretty much going on hiatus for a year, with
Gene returning to his job as a machinist.
He and Gib would re-unite several times, first as Cajub Gib and Gene (or Guilbeau and Parsons) and they recorded one self-titled
album with Clarence White. They
performed at The Jack of Diamonds in Palmdale and Nashville West in El
Monte and eventually took their name from the latter. Nashville West recorded an eponymous
album and backed other groups, such as The Gosdin
Clarence and Gene joined The Byrds in time for
the album, Dr. Byrds
and Mr. Hyde, which reached a modest #153 on the Billboard top
200. Damage control was needed,
and they employed the services of Terry Melcher to produce their next
album, Ballad of Easy Rider. It featured one of Gene’s
compositions, “Gunga Din”, an
autobiographical piece about life on the road. This was followed by an untitled
album and 1971’s Byrdmaniax, which Gene still despises because of its
omnipresent strings. In spite
of this anathema, he stayed on board for one more album,
Farther Along, although a couple
of bits they recorded with Earl Scruggs survive on the live album, Earl Scruggs Performing with His Family
Gene was fired
by Roger McGuinn during a 1972 tour and went on
to record his solo debut album, Kindling,
which featured Vassar Clements, Ralph Stanley and Clarence White, and was
critically lauded but not commercially successful. Its blip on the musical radar was
rendered even more insignificant by the death of Clarence, whose life was
cut short by an intoxicated motorist.
His death paralyzed Gene, who lost all interest in music.
returned to music by gigging with friends such as Joel Scott Hill, Steve Gurr, and Graham Keighley. They dubbed themselves as The Compche Firehouse Benefit Blues Band and then morphed
into The Docker Hill Boys.
Gene went on
to join The Flying Burrito Brothers and penned a handful of songs for them,
such as “Out of Control”, “Sweet Desert Childhood”,
and “Wind and Rain”, which were featured on the albums, Airborne and Flying Again. Gene
injured his wrist and had to take another sabbatical. He officially quit the band in 1978
and released his sophomore effort, Melodies,
in 1979. In 1980, he signed on
with Sierra Records as an artist and repertory executive and then formed
The Gene Parsons Trio, which comprised Peter Oliba
and Richie Rosenbaum. This was
followed by a stint with Battin, Kleinow and Friends, who became The Peace Seekers.
success was as part of a duo with Meridian Green, a folk artist from the
Golden State whom he married in 1986.
By 1991, they had dubbed themselves as Parsons Green and the release
of their inaugural album, Birds of a
Feather, was not far off.
Gene multi-tasked on Meridian’s debut solo album, In the Heart of The Time, singing
harmony and playing a variety of instruments.
In 1998, he
appeared on Haywire’s Yuletide offering, Bluegrass Christmas.
Gene released a live album, I
Hope They Let Us In, on New Year’s Day 2001. In 2002, he performed as part of
another duo with Julian Dawson on the compact disc, Hillbilly Zen, and sat in with The David Nelson Trio in concert
at Fort Bragg, California.
He has been
spending much of his time since developing an invention that he and
Clarence White created, known as the B-Bender (or StringBender),
a device that stretches the B string of an electric guitar to give it the
same sound as a steel. The StringBender
has become very popular and a shop and record label bear its name.
In his copious
free time, he has been penning a book of memoirs entitled Sweet Desert Childhood. An excerpt is available on his website,