BYRDWATCHER: A Field Guide to the Byrds of Los Angeles
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1967 - 1969

Burrito Discography

Burrito Bibliography


Flying Burrito Bros. v. 1.0
Ian Dunlop: vocals, bass, guitar, sax
Mickey Gauvin: drums
Barry Tashian: vocals, guitar
Billy Briggs: keyboards
Junior Markham: horns
Bobby Keys: sax
and sometimes
Gram Parsons: vocals, guitar, keyboards

Flying Burrito Bros. v. 2.0
Gram Parsons: vocals, r. guitar, keyboards
Chris Hillman: vocals, r. guitar, mandolin
Sneaky Pete Kleinow: pedal steel
Chris Ethridge: vocals, bass, piano
Session drummers

Flying Burrito Bros. v. 2.1
Gram Parsons: vocals, r. guitar, keyboards
Chris Hillman: vocals, r. guitar, mandolin
Sneaky Pete Kleinow: pedal steel
Chris Ethridge: vocals, bass, piano
Jon Corneal: drums

The Gilded Palace of Sin
A&M SP 4175
February 1969
US #164

"Christine's Tune (Devil in Disguise)":
The titular Christine was Miss Christine Frka, one of the GTOs with Pamela DesBarres. When she died a couple years later, the Burritos felt remorseful for having portrayed her in an unflattering light and changed the name of the song to "Devil in Disguise" on Last of the Red Hot Burritos.

Soul covers:
"Dark End of the Street" was written by Dan Penn and Chips Moman and was a hit for Goldwax soul singer James Carr in 1967. It was later covered by, among others, Percy Sledge and Aretha Franklin. The song is mistakenly credited to Spooner Oldham and Penn on several Burritos releases. "Do Right Woman" was also written by Dan Penn and Chips Moman and made famous by Aretha Franklin in 1967.

Session drummers:
Corneal drummed on five tunes from Gilded Palace of Sin (A&M, 1969). Session man Eddie Hoh drummed on two cuts; he left and the band hired Sam Goldstein, a friend of Sneaky Pete Kleinow. Goldstein drummed on only one song; Popeye Phillips, a friend of Chris Ethridge, drummed on the remaining three tracks.

To read about the activities of Gram Parsons just before forming the Burritos, see Gram Parsons: 1968. The activities of Chris Hillman and Michael Clarke will be addressed in forthcoming member profiles.

The history of the Flying Burrito Brothers is long and checkered. The definitive line-up began with two ex-Byrds, Gram Parsons and Chris Hillman, and soon added a third, Michael Clarke. Both Gene Clark and David Crosby guested on recordings by the Burritos. Gene Parsons and Skip Battin would play with subsequent incarnations of the group. Indeed, the band went through a ridiculous number of iterations over the years, many of which had only the most tenuous of connections to the definitive Parsons-Hillman line-up. Ironically, even Gram Parsons had a fairly flimsy claim on the name when he took it over from a group of his former bandmates in 1968.

The Flying Burrito Brothers v. 1.0

The first version of the Burritos formed after bassist Ian Dunlop and drummer Mickey Gauvin left the International Submarine Band in spring of 1967. Their bandmates Gram Parsons and John Nuese kept the ISB name, hired a number of session players and friends, and recorded Safe at Home (LHI, 1968). The split was driven by different musical visions -- Parsons and Nuese wanted to concentrate on country music, while Dunlop and Gauvin wanted to combine R&B, rock and country -- but was relatively amicable.
Dunlop and Gauvin began playing their blend of styles at clubs around LA with a shifting group of musicians as the Flying Burrito Brothers. (Dunlop came up with the name.) Other original original Burritos include guitarist and vocalist Barry Tashian and keyboardist Billy Briggs, late of Boston's legendary group, the Remains; horn player Junior Markham and saxman Bobby Keys (who played with Leon Russell and later backed Delaney & Bonnie, Joe Cocker, and the Rolling Stones). Parsons actually played at their debut gig, and from time to time thereafter. The roster was flexible, featuring any number of friends and fellow-travelers, including Russell and Jesse Ed Davis. The original Burritos deliberately eschewed the music industry -- they didn't want to get signed, they didn't want to have hits, they just wanted to play the music they liked. In fact, when they were recognized by fans on the streets of LA in mid-'68, they concluded that they were becoming too well-known and moved the core of the band to New York City. They continued to play under the Burrito name out East, even after Parsons adopted the name for his new group.

Courtesy A&M Records.

The Flying Burrito Brothers v. 2.0 and 2.1

During the brief tenure of Gram Parsons in the Byrds, he and Chris Hillman discussed forming a band that would play country music with a rock 'n' roll attitude. They even recorded a few sessions with Clarence White, Gene Parsons, and Gib Guilbeau in what Gene Parsons called a "prototype Burrito Brothers."* Before any decision could be made, Parsons had quit the band and become persona non grata with Hillman. "I was ready to murder him," said Hillman.* Meanwhile, White and Gene Parsons had become Byrds.
Once Hillman quit the Byrds, Parsons, back from London, looked him up. Before long they had reconciled their differences, and revived their plans to form a country band. Parsons had already lined up a bassist in Chris Ethridge, who had been in the second version of the International Submarine Band and played on the LP. They called Clarence White and Gene Parsons to offer them jobs, but both decided they liked their odds better with the Byrds. Instead, they brought in Sneaky Pete Kleinow on steel guitar. Kleinow was a known quantity: he had played steel behind the Sweetheart Byrds at a few live gigs in early '68. The band went without a regular drummer.

Burritos v. 2.0 on the cover of 1988 compilation
Farther Along. Courtesy A&M Records.

They decided to borrow the name of Ian Dunlop's band, by this time relocated to New York: the Flying Burrito Brothers. Parsons and Hillman got a house in the San Fernando Valley and dubbed it "Burrito Manor." In 1985, Hillman recalled it as a fruitful period for the two:
"To this day the most productive time I've ever had, including all the bands I was ever in, the most productive time was living with [Parsons] in Reseda in 1968 when I was getting a divorce and so was he and we shared a house and we were putting the Burritos together then. We didn't have a drummer, we had Chris Ethridge and Sneaky Pete. We woke up in the morning and we would write every morning.... It was a great time. To this day I've never peaked like that working with other people."*
The two wrote some of the most memorable tunes of both their careers during this period, including "Christine's Tune (Devil in Disguise)," "Wheels," "Juanita," and "Sin City," Hillman's jab at Byrds manager Larry Spector. Parsons also fleshed out a pair of Ethridge's melodies into "Hot Burrito #1" (aka "I'm Your Toy") and "Hot Burrito #2." The Burritos quickly landed a recording contract with A&M and by the end of 1968 were at work on their first album, The Gilded Palace of Sin (A&M, 1969). All the above songs, plus a couple of soul covers, "Dark End of the Street" and "Do Right Woman" (featuring an uncredited David Crosby on high harmony), and a Parsons number from the Submarine Band days, "Do You Know How It Feels," were recorded in late 1968. ISB drummer Jon Corneal played on half the songs and three different session drummers handled the rest.

The Gilded Palace of Sin. Courtesy A&M Records.

Ever conscious of appearances, Parsons took the group to Nudie's Rodeo Tailors for some flashy sequined suits of the type some country musicians favored -- of course, no other country musician had a Nudie suit embroidered with the marijuana leaves, pills and naked ladies that festooned Parsons's jacket. The band were captured in their new cosmic country duds on the cover of the first album, shot in the Mojave Desert. Gilded Palace was released in early '69 to critical acclaim and indifference from the public. The LP wheezed up to #164 on the US chart.

To follow the career of the Flying Burrito Brothers, see The Flying Burrito Brothers: 1969 - 1970.


"Prototype Burrito Brothers..." Fong-Torres, Hickory Wind at 100.

"I was ready to murder him." Griffin, Gram Parsons at 86.

"To this day..." Griffin, Gram Parsons at 85.

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Spinoffs | Flying Burrito Brothers | 1967 - 1969

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