BYRDWATCHER: A Field Guide to the Byrds of Los Angeles
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MUSICIANS ASSOCIATED WITH THE BYRDS

K - Lea



FAST FORWARD:

Phil Kaufman

Thomas Jefferson Kaye

Sneaky Pete Kleinow

Larry Knechtel

Al Kooper

Joel Larson

Billy Ray Lathum

Bernie Leadon



Phil Kaufman

Phil Kaufman, the man who stole the corpse of Parsons and burned it in the desert, has been road manager for a raft of rock and country acts, and led a life of adventure and mayhem. His autobiography is full of outrageous tales about prison, Charles Manson, and his work for the Rolling Stones, Gram Parsons, Emmylou Harris, Etta James, and Frank Zappa. Read all about it in Phil Kaufman and Colin White, Road Mangler Deluxe (Glendale, CA: White/Boucke Publishing, 1993). See Bibliography for information on ordering this book.


Thomas Jefferson Kaye

Thomas Jefferson Kaye carried on a close musical collaboration with Gene Clark through the mid-'70s. After stints in a group called White Cloud and as a sideman for Loudon Wainwright, he produced the supersession Triumvirate (CBS, 1973) for Mike Bloomfield, Dr. John and John Hammond. Around the same time, Kaye released two solo LPs, Thomas Jefferson Kaye (ABC/Dunhill, 1973) and First Grade (ABC/Dunhill, 1973). Both featured Walter Becker and Donald Fagen of Steely Dan prominently.
Kaye then produced Gene Clark's baroque No Other (Asylum, 1974). The two remained close during the next few years, and Kaye then produced the next Clark LP, the country-rocker Two Sides to Every Story (RSO, 1977). Kaye was then part of the K.C. Southern Band (Kaye-Clark, get it?) until Clark reunited with McGuinn in late '77. Kaye and Clark co-wrote "Release Me, Girl," which turned up on McGuinn Clark & Hillman (Capitol, 1979).


Sneaky Pete Kleinow

During the Byrds' 1968 Sweetheart of the Rodeo phase, steel guitarist Sneaky Pete Kleinow (sometimes spelled "Sneeky" Pete) played with the band on club dates around LA. (He also worked as an animator, including work on the Gumby cartoon.)
At that time, Gram Parsons and Chris Hillman argued that Kleinow should be added to the Byrds as a regular member in order to reinforce their country sound. He never became a full-fledged member, but when Parsons and Hillman formed the Flying Burrito Brothers, Kleinow joined up. He played with the Burritos until spring of 1971, appearing their first three LPs.
In 1974, Kleinow played with fiddler Gib Guilbeau in a band called Cold Steel that released one Dutch LP. Later that year, Kleinow and Guilbeau teamed up with original Burritos bassist Chris Ethridge and formed a new Flying Burrito Brothers, along with ex-Byrd Gene Parsons on drums and Joel Scott Hill formerly of Canned Heat, on vocals. This incarnation of the band released LPs in 1975 and 1976 (with ex-Byrd Skip Battin replacing Ethridge for the second album).
With various others, Kleinow and Guilbeau soldiered on as the Flying Burrito Brothers through the 1970s. In 1980, Kleinow, Guilbeau, and John Beland shifted the emphasis of the band to more commercial country, changed its name to "The Burrito Brothers," and finally achieved the commercial success that had eluded every previous incarnation of the band. Kleinow left after one more album, but fielded various versions of the Burritos sporadically throughout the '80s and '90s.
Kleinow also kept up a successful non-musical career, working as an animator and special effects man. His credits include such films as The Empire Strikes Back (1980), The Right Stuff (1983), Terminator (1984), and Terminator II: Judgment Day (1991).


Larry Knechtel

Larry Knechtel is a noted session man. As a member of "the Wrecking Crew," he played many sessions with Phil Spector, mostly as a keyboardist. In 1965, he played bass on the "Mr. Tambourine Man" single, and its flipside, "I Knew I'd Want You." Five years later, he played organ on "Tunnel of Love" from the LP Byrdmaniax.


Al Kooper

Super session man Al Kooper joined the Royal Teens just after they hit the charts with "Short Shorts" in 1958. After leaving that outfit, he worked as a session man and writer, co-writing "This Diamond Ring" for Gary Lewis and the Playboys in 1965.
The high point of his musical career came later that year when Kooper was hanging out in the studio during the sessions for Bob Dylan's Highway 61 Revisited (Columbia, 1965), hoping he might get a chance to play. Though he was a guitarist and not a keyboardist, Kooper was asked to play the organ on "Like A Rolling Stone." Dylan was taken with the loose, amateurish organ sound and the second take was released as a single. It knocked the Beatles off the top of the charts that year, and spawned hundreds songs with "Dylanesque" organ parts.
Later that year Kooper co-founded the Blues Project, who hit with the punky single "No Time Like The Right Time." In later years he would found Blood, Sweat & Tears, which he left after their first record; record Super Session (Columbia, 1968) with Mike Bloomfield and Stephen Stills; release several solo albums; produce the first three LPs by Lynyrd Skynyrd; and discover the Tubes. Lately he has joined the exodus of ex-rockers to Nashville.


Joel Larson

Joel Larson drummed with the short-lived first incarnation of the Gene Clark Group in the spring of '66. Toward the end of '66, Larson joined the Merry-Go-Round, an LA group headed by boy genius Emitt Rhodes (formerly of the Palace Guard). Rhodes wrote and arranged baroque, Beatly pop not unlike a smarter Left Banke, and scored major local hits in mid-'67 with "Live" (later covered by the Bangles on their first album) and "You're A Very Lovely Woman." Both these songs can be heard on More Nuggets (Rhino, 1987).
Larson's other credits include the Nomads, Barry McGuire, the Turtles, and Love. He joined the second version of the Grass Roots in 1972.


Billy Ray Lathum

Billy Ray Lathum played banjo with the Kentucky Colonels from 1958 until their split in 1965. Then he went to the Ozark Opry for several years. In 1970, he returned to California, where he played banjo and guitar with the Doug Dillard Expedition. After that group dissolved, Lathum joined the Dillards, playing with them from 1973 to 1977.
More recently, Lathum joined Kenny Blackwell and ex-Desert Rose Band musicians Herb Pedersen and Bill Bryson in a bluegrass band called The Laurel Canyon Ramblers. Their first album was Rambler's Blues (Sugar Hill, 1995). The band has set up an official Laurel Canyon Ramblers site.


Bernie Leadon

Guitarist and banjo player Bernie Leadon began his career in 1962 when he joined the Scottsville Squirrel Barkers, a California bluegrass outfit led by Chris Hillman. (Leadon replaced Kenny Wertz, later of Country Gazette.)
With fellow former Barker Larry Murray, Leadon spent the mid '60s in Florida, but returned to California in 1967, when he joined a country folk band called Hearts and Flowers that also featured Rick Cunha. Leadon now played guitar as well as banjo.
In 1968, Leadon was a founding member of Dillard & Clark, along with Hearts and Flowers bassist David Jackson. Leadon played on all of The Fantastic Expedition of Dillard & Clark (A&M, 1968) and a few songs on Through the Morning, Through the Night (A&M, 1969).
In 1969, Leadon replaced Jeff Hanna (later of the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band) in the Corvettes, Linda Ronstadt's backing group.
In the fall of that year, bassist Chris Ethridge left the Flying Burrito Brothers. Chris Hillman moved from guitar back to bass and Leadon came on as a new guitarist in time to play on the Burritos second album, Burrito Deluxe (A&M, 1969). Leadon remained a Burrito until 1971.
That year Leadon once again hooked up with Rondstadt. This version of her touring band featured Glenn Frey and Don Henley, and by the end of 1971, these two combined with Leadon and ex-Poco bassist Randy Meisner to form the Eagles. Leadon remained with the Eagles through the release of One of These Nights (Asylum, 1975). Tired of the touring grind, Leadon left the band (to be replaced by Joe Walsh).
In 1977, Leadon formed the Bernie Leadon/Michael Georgiades Band and released one LP. In the '80s, Leadon backed Chris Hillman on his solo records and formed a one-off "Christian bluegrass" outfit with Hillman and steel guitarist Al Perkins called Ever Call Ready that released an album in 1985.
Leadon replaced John McEuen in the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band in 1987, and appeared on three albums during the band's streak of country hits, Hold On (Warner Bros., 1987), Workin' Band (Warner Bros., 1988), and Will the Circle Be Unbroken, Vol. Two (MCA, 1989). Since leaving NGDB, Leadon has recorded several albums with Run/C&W, a half-joking act that did country covers of rap songs -- but also soul classics, not unlike the early Burritos. L & M's Eagles Fastlane has some further information about Leadon.


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Related Musicians | Musicians Associated with the Byrds | K - Lea

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