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Flying Burrito Brothers, The

Gram Parsons and Chris Hillman thought up this group when they had recorded one of the earliest country-rock albums, Sweethearts of the Rodeo, as members of The Byrds in 1968.  They called their house “Burrito Manor”, got themselves a new wardrobe and were joined by the pedal steel guitarist Sneaky Pete Kleinow, the pianist and bassist Chris Etheridge and The Byrds drummer, Michael Clarke,

They took the name from another band that also called themselves The Flying Burrito Brothers that had been formed by members of Gram Parsons’ previous group International Submarine Band. Based in New York, that band changed their name to Flying Burrito Brothers East to avoid confusion between the two.

They released their debut album The Gilded Palace of Sin in 1969 by which time they had already gained the notice of the singer Bob Dylan.  It achieved little success though so Chris Etheridge left the band and was replaced by Bernie Leadon.  1969 proved to be quite a year for them as they had also attracted the attention of The Rolling Stones and performed as an opening act at the infamous Altamont Free Concert.

The group dismissed Gram Parsons after they released their second album, Burrito Deluxein 1970 and was replaced by Rick Roberts.  Bernie Leadon left to join The Eagles and Sneaky Pete Kleinow also went off to pursue other avenues so four new musicians were taken in their place.  These were Byrone Berline, Roger Bush, Al Perkins and Kenny Wertz.  In 1972 they released the live recording Last of the Red Hot Burritos and then the band went to pieces.

Chris Hillman and Al Perkins went off to work with Manassas and then three of the remaining four went on to form Country Gazette leaving Rick Roberts and Michael Clarke on their own.  Undeterred, Rick put together another line up and they embarked on a European tour in 1973.  Following that though he began to pursue his solo career and he and Michael Clarke co-founded Firefall.

The early death of Gram Parsons in 1973 meant that people were listening to The Flying Burrito Brothers again and this resurgence of interest led to the compilation Close Up to The Honky Tonks being released in 1974.  This led to Sneaky Pete Kleinow and Chris Etheridge putting together a new line-up of the group in 1975 with Joel Scott Hill and Gib Guilbeau, Gene Parsons.  They recorded the album Flying Again that same year but Chris Etheridge left prior to their next album Airborne in 1976 where Skip Battin took over his duties. They released the album called Sleepless Nights shortly after and then in 1979 they were joined by the guitarist John Beland who was also a songwriter.

Led by Gil Guilbeau and John Beland for the most part, sometimes with Sneaky Pete Kleinow, they had their first on the country chart in 1980 with “White Line Fever”.  Following this success they dropped the “Flying” and just went by the name The Burrito Brothers and this seemed to be a turning point for them when they began to release songs that regularly made the charts.  1981 was another huge step for them when Billboard Magazine named them the “Best New Crossover Group”. They continued through the 1980s with successful singles such as “Does She Wish She Was Single Again”, “She Belongs to Everyone But Me” and “If Something Should Come Between Us (Let It Be Love)”.  They also led the campaign to get the induction of Lefty Frizzell into the Country Music Hall of Fame and went on a successful tour of Europe.  Their albums from that decade include Hearts on the Line and Sunset Sundown.

The 1990s also saw them touring and recording with many special guests.  Their final albums were California Jukebox and Sons of The Golden West.

The turn of the new millennium came and John Beland decided to disband the group and concentrate on working as a producer.  Sneaky Pete Kleinow wasn’t entirely finished with the group though and formed the spin-off group Burrito Deluxe.  He left them for health reasons in 2005 and passed away in 2006 but they continued to perform live in Europe.

Members and touring/recording members over the years included:
Skip Battin (bass)
John Beland (vocals/guitar)
Dennis Belfield (bass)
Byron Berline (fiddle)
Richard Bowden (bass/vocals)
Avery Burdette (keyboards)
Roger Bush (acoustic bass)
Brian Cadd (keyboards/vocals)
Michael Clarke (drums)
Skip Edwards (pedal steel guitar)
Chris Ethridge (piano/bass)
Larry Gadler (guitar)
Gib Guilbeau (fiddle/vocals)
Charlie Harwood (keyboards)
Joel Scott Hill (guitar/vocals)
Chris Hillman (guitar/mandolin/vocals)
Sneaky Pete Kleinow (pedal steel guitar)
Ron Krasinki (drums)
Bernie Leadon (banjo/guitar/vocals)
Larry Marvel (pedal steel guitar)
Mickey McGee (drums)
Gene Parsons (drums)
Gram Parsons (vocals)
Al Perkins (guitar/dobro)
Rick Roberts (vocals)
Mark Vidito (piano)
Chad Watson (bass)
Tom Weaver (keyboards)
Kenny Wertz (guitar/vocals)
Neil Worf (drums)
Ted Zambetti (drums)
Red Zinvetti (drums)

The Burrito Brothers recordings
Blue and Broken Hearted Me (Buddy Cannon/Raleigh Squires)
She’s a Friend of a Friend (John Beland/Gib Guilbeau)