The Outer Banks Voice – Stream On: Death, Drugs and Rock’n’roll – Gram Parsons and the Rolling Stones

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Airing on: Death, Drugs and Rock ‘n’ Roll – Gram Parsons and the Rolling Stones

By Peter Hummers December 16, 2021

In 1969, the Rolling Stones closed the “Decade of Love” when their “security team”, including Sonny Barger’s Hell’s Angels, killed a spectator at Altamont Raceway Park in Calif., One of four deaths. during the festival free.

In 1971, former Byrd and Americana music pioneer Gram Parsons took refuge with Rolling Stone Keith Richards in the south of France. The Stones were looking to avoid tax problems in the UK and Parsons had left the Byrds rather than performing in South Africa. And while Keith inexplicably parties, even to this day Gram passed away in 1973, aged 27. But Gram Parsons’ story didn’t end there.

GIVE ME A SHELTER

/Main video /Diffusion /Vimeo.com /Trailer / 1970 / PG
Mick [Jagger] got off the first helicopter with Ronnie [Schneider, the tour manager] when a kid comes running up to Mick and says, “I hate you,” or something, and punches him in the mouth. (Ethan Russell)

The filmmakers Albert and David Maysles and Charlotte Zwerin were supporters of the direct cinema movement, which was akin to gonzo journalism: if the journalist participated in the events they covered, or even influenced them, so be it. It had worked well for Hunter S. Thompson. The Maysles decided to record the final weeks of the Rolling Stones’ 1969 American tour which was to end with a free concert in San Francisco’s lush Golden Gate Park, but ended up on the barren Altamont Speedway when San Francisco refused to issue a permit. The action in the new location resembled a painting by Heironymous Bosch or a painting of a Civil War battle.

Give me shelter opens with an interpretation of the lists somewhere in New York City of “Jumpin ‘Jack Flash”, the “bad boys of rock and roll” looking more like the London School of Economics and Sidcup Art College graduates than they once were. England’s response to Muddy Waters. Hard Case Brian Jones, who, at 27, was exhausted, had quit to die, while his replacement, baby-faced Mick Taylor, contributed to the image of the group of children playing in dress-up. Even Keith Richards was still pretty.

In the next scene, however, as the Stones watch the film’s dailies in progress, they hear an account over the radio of the deaths that occurred on their Altamont show, and their smirks mask the crestfallen disillusionment that had been austere. on stage in the moment. Until Hell’s Angel Sonny Barger called the radio station, saying “I wasn’t around to watch anything, man” and called singer Mick Jagger a jerk for making them “run security.” Mick’s smile disappears like a fist when you open your hand.

Then we are taken back, earlier in the tour, to a recording studio in Muscle Shoals, Alabama. The Stones willingly lick Maysles’ camera during a recording session; it is not a pretty sight. Listening to a take of “Wild Horses” (which guitarist Keith Richards gave his friend Gram Parsons to record first), drummer Charlie Watts looks at the camera as if he were in court, and the two Micks , Jagger and Taylor, fold in on themselves, while Keith, head back and eyes closed, sings silently.

“Childhood life… is easy to do. “

Mick Jagger’s reputation took a hit on his recklessness in the face of the violent wave that swept through Altamont (mainly because of the publicity of Give me shelter)… But he bounced back, hopefully wiser. There is no business like show business. Scores in the 90s on Rotten Tomatoes.


PARSONS GRAND VOL

/Amazon.com /Main video /Diffusion /Trailer / 2003 / PG13
We are not afraid to ride… we are not afraid to die. (Gram Parsons, “Wheels”, with the Flying Burrito Brothers)

While the Stones have chosen the sinister blues as their music, their friend Floridian Gram Parsons, spearheading country-rock with the Byrds Rodeo sweetheart album, with his own band The Flying Burrito Brothers, and solo, was drawn to the sunnier but melancholy sound of country and western music.

And Gram was, as Hank Williams might put it, a card, appearing in a costume designed by Nudie Cohn of Nashville sporting marijuana leaves, naked women, pills, and poppy flowers. Gram could pull your heartbeat with ballads like “Hickory Wind” or direct the moon with the audience with ridiculous songs like “Hippie Boy”.

It’s no wonder, then, that the film about Gram’s final days and beyond is a comedy, primarily.

His band The Flying Burrito Brothers had brought smiles to Altamont’s faces before the tragic turn of events, but Parson’s personal arc of drug abuse meant that it wasn’t until four years later that he joined Brian Jones in the afterlife. But not until he told his friend and highway manager Phil Kaufman that when he died, he wanted his body brought to his favorite place, Joshua Tree National Monument, and burned.

And there hides a funny comedy.

Attend the funeral of ex-Byrd Clarence White (who had been killed by a drunk driver and who could be seen earlier on The Andy Griffith Show, behind Andy’s left shoulder, here) with Kaufman in 1973, Gram expressed his distaste for “Catholic high mass burials with all the gibberish” and made a pact with Kaufman, who recalls Gram had said “If I die I want someone to have a few beers, take me to the desert and burn my body. Kaufman said,” Okay that’s a deal. But would you do the same for me? Gram said, “Yeah.”

Unfortunately, Parsons held their end of the bargain first. He had finished his solo album Sorrowful angel, and went to Joshua Tree to relax with roadie Michael Martin and Martin’s girlfriend, Dale McElroy. He met singer Scott McKenzie’s ex-wife, who hooked him up with liquid morphine, and Gram and her friend Margaret Fisher spent the day drinking and shooting each other. Later Margaret was panicked in Dale’s room: Gram had overdosed, and after an ice cube suppository (yes, that’s one thing) was up and alert. But later, when Gram passed out in bed, he was taken in an ambulance to hospital, where he died.

At the beginning of Grand theft parsons, a disclaimer reads: “Although this film is based on a true story, some characters and events are fictional.” Gram’s disappearance is compressed into a scene of a girl riding Gram’s body in a motel room, shouting into the phone, “He’s dead!” Gram Parsons is dead! On the other end of the phone, Phil Kaufman (Johnny Knoxville) says, “Call an ambulance. And get out of there, ”before seeing a local television reporter announce the sad event. As fans recount what he had meant to them, the irascible Kaufman trashes Gram’s motel room and goes to the hospital, where he is turned away by an outraged nurse who says Parsons’ autopsy is in a few hours, after which his body will be returned to his family. “I suggest you talk to them if you want to sort through his personal effects … sir!” Mr. Parsons is dead and no longer appears to need a route manager.

Kaufman disappears into a supply room, where he exchanges his leathers for a lab coat and stethoscope, finds and puts Gram on a cart, and off we go.

Until he was chased away by a doctor. Now out of work, he is soon confronted with Gram’s ex-girlfriend (Christina Applegate) holding up a Gram note and demanding his things, and he decides to find Gram’s body (now on his way to LAX en route to the New Orleans and Parson’s family) and make things right at Joshua Tree. What follows is an extremely bizarre road trip, with Kaufman and Parson’s ex hunting separately for his remains, which perhaps could be more entertaining for those fans steeped in Parsons’ life’s work, in 2003 still a small community. .

By 1973, Gram Parsons was pretty much into baseball, so to speak, with the Eagles, not Grams or the Burritos, finally reaching a popular following with their own mix of country and rock. Even the seminal of the Byrds Rodeo sweetheart The album Parsons had so much influence on only reached number 77 on the U.S. Billboard charts, meeting active hostility in Nashville, where the Byrds were considered posers. Tensions had also developed between Parsons and the rest of the band, guitarist Roger McGuinn in particular, as some of Parsons’ vocals were re-recorded, in part due to legal complications, and at the time of the album’s release in August, Parsons had left the group, and his billing on the record was reduced to three words. I guess I’m saying that given the film’s poor distribution to audiences and critics, you had to be there.

With Michael Shannon (Boardwalk Empire) in an exceptional twist as a hippie to whom Kaufman rents a yellow hearse painted with flowers, in which to take his late friend to Joshua Tree.


(Pete Hummers participates in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliate sites. It does not add anything to Amazon’s pricing. )

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