Gram Parsons
American singer-songwriter
Gram Parsons
Gram Parsons was an American singer, songwriter, guitarist and pianist. Parsons is best known for his work within the country genre; he also mixed blues, folk, and rock to create what he called "Cosmic American Music". Besides recording as a solo artist, he also worked in several notable bands, including the International Submarine Band, The Byrds, and The Flying Burrito Brothers.
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Lanois's picnic offers bountiful harvest - Hamilton Spectator
Google News - over 5 years
Harris also gave the crowd her heartfelt eulogy to Katie McGarrigle, My Darlin' Kate and her tribute to Gram Parsons, The Road, before closing with an exquisitely sung encore of Michelangelo. Subdued but touching. The Harris-Lanois set may not have had
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Two European tourists die in 105-degree US park - USA Today
Google News - over 5 years
One U2 fan website based in Germany has information on the location and how to get there. Joshua Tree has another place in music history. It was where American blues/folk/rock icon Gram Parsons died in 1973 in a motel after a drug overdose
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The Inlaws Ride Again - Birmingham Weekly
Google News - over 5 years
Over the course of the band's history, Jack and I both immersed ourselves in the music of these artists and that branched out to Gram Parsons and The Flying Burrito Brothers. We developed an appreciation for that music and came to love it."
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The Byrds and Beyond Aug. 26 at McLoone's Supper Club - Asbury Park Press (blog)
Google News - over 5 years
The Byrds' roster also included David Crosby, who left to hang out with Stephen Stills, Graham Nash and Neil Young, but Gram Parsons was also a member of the group for a short time, helping shift them away from folk rock towards country rock,
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Gram Parsons inspires Jordie Lane album - Warrnambool Standard
Google News - over 5 years
MELBOURNE singer-songwriter Jordie Lane went on a holiday to the US with a plan to do a little bit of sight-seeing and pay homage to one of his favourite musicians, the late country artist Gram Parsons. The rewards of this trip were far more than he
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Hari Kunzru: 'What's happened since 2008 is a class war based on faith and credit' - The Guardian
Google News - over 5 years
Hari Kunzru: 'Friends from LA go to the desert to sit in hot tubs listening to Gram Parsons. Europeans like me go to get into cosmic relation with the void.' Photograph: David Levene for the Guardian One day in 1951 while meditating beside the world's
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Fright place at the right time - Sydney Morning Herald
Google News - over 5 years
Gram Parsons' young face smiles from framed photos and posters keeping watch over the room where he died, from a cocktail of morphine and alcohol, in September 1973. There is a fat guest book bursting with fan letters, poems and drawings and a table
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Gram Parsons Tribute in SF - JamBase
Google News - over 5 years
Now in its milestone tenth year, Sleepless Nights continues to celebrate the music of Gram Parsons, who is often referred to as the pioneer of country rock. His music and legacy has developed a considerable cult following for his efforts to blur the
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The Listings
NYTimes - over 5 years
Pop Prices may not reflect ticketing service charges. Full reviews of recent concerts: - Asobi Seksu (Friday) What was once called shoegazer rock -- shimmering, multilayered guitars enfolding confessions of longing and ambiguity -- is back in Asobi Seksu, a New York band that wraps its guitars and keyboard around well-made pop
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Deli still serving treats - Sydney Morning Herald
Google News - over 5 years
''My parents played everything from the Flying Burrito Brothers to Gram Parsons to Emmylou Harris. And I remember my dad raving about this show called Music Deli. I actually recall when it came out in the 1980s because he used to go on about it.''
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Parting Shots: Emmylou Harris - Relix
Google News - over 5 years
With her new record, Hard Bargain, legendary songstress Emmylou Harris tackles troubled love, a broken heart and the death of Gram Parsons. I don't think you've ever recorded an album with literally just three people in the studio
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Backstage: Live Nation's Woody Graber Picks Music to Take to Heaven - Broward-Palm Beach New Times (blog)
Google News - over 5 years
Gram Parsons, you left us too soon. It's sing-along time, from "Devil in Disguise" to "Hot Burrito #2" and beyond." * "This is a hard one. There are so many contenders, from the Beatles to the Stones to the Kinks to Dylan, etc
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Album review of Old Californio: Sundrunk Angels -
Google News - over 5 years
Their sound is an eclectic blend of country, rock, folk, and psychedelic rock that is reminiscent of bands like the Grateful Dead, New Riders of the Purple Sage, and Gram Parsons Flying Burritos. The label Americana fits this band as snug as a pair of
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Lakefront memories on Matthews' agenda - Chicago Tribune
Google News - over 5 years
Harris continues to make vital music that pushes genre boundaries four decades after collaborating with Gram Parsons. Franti and Spearhead are seasoned festival entertainers, the reunited Jayhawks harmonize like the second coming of the Byrds and soul
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Weekend's Best: Pop Music - Indianapolis Star
Google News - over 5 years
JOE VITTI / The Star 2008 file photo One of the great collaborators of modern music, Emmylou Harris has worked with Gram Parsons, Mark Knopfler, Dolly Parton, Linda Ronstadt, Neil Young and Bob Dylan. Harris pays tribute to country-rock pioneer Parsons
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CD REVIEW: Dawes, 'Nothing Is Wrong' - Daily Breeze
Google News - over 5 years
With its simple, organic sound, Dawes' second album, "Nothing Is Wrong," echoes the earnest strain of country-tinged Southern California songwriting that stretches from Gram Parsons up through Jackson Browne (who adds backing vocals to "Fire Away") and
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Learn about memorable moments in the evolution of Gram Parsons
  • 1973
    Age 26
    The 1973 album "Crazy Eyes" by Poco pays homage to Parsons, as Richie Furay composed the title track in honor of him, and sings one of Parsons' own compositions, "Brass Buttons."
    More Details Hide Details The album was released four days before Parsons died. In its 1995 album Stone, the Canadian band Crash Vegas included a tribute song to Parsons titled September Morning. A music festival called Gram Fest or the Cosmic American Music Festival was held annually in honor of Parsons in Joshua Tree, California, between 1996 and 2006. The show featured tunes written by Gram Parsons and Gene Clark as well as influential songs and musical styles from other artists that were part of that era. Performers were also encouraged to showcase their own material. The underlying theme of the event is to inspire the performers to take these musical styles to the next level of the creative process. Past concerts have featured such notable artists as Sneaky Pete Kleinow, Chris Ethridge, Spooner Oldham, John Molo, Jack Royerton, Gib Guilbeau, Counting Crows, Bob Warford, Rosie Flores, David Lowery, Barry & Holly Tashian, George Tomsco, Jann Browne, Lucinda Williams, Polly Parsons, The "Road Mangler"- Phil Kaufman, Ben Fong-Torres, Victoria Williams & Mark Olson, Sid Griffin, as well as a variety of many other bands that had played over the 2 or 3 day event. In addition, the Gram Parsons Tribute, in Waycross, Georgia, is a music festival remembering Parsons in the town in which he grew up. Additional tributes spring up every year, the latest being the Southern California "Gram On!" celebration by The Rickenbastards in July, 2013, celebrating the life and legacy of a simple country boy with a dream, Gram Parsons.
    Parsons was scheduled to begin another tour in October 1973.
    More Details Hide Details Parsons decided to go on one more excursion before this tour. Accompanying him were Fisher, personal assistant Michael Martin, and Dale McElroy, Martin's girlfriend. Less than two days after arriving at the Joshua Tree Inn in Room #8, Parsons was discovered unresponsive in his bedroom. Attempts to revive him failed and death was officially pronounced at 12:15 am on September 19, 1973 at Hi-Desert Memorial Hospital. Parsons was 26 years old at the time of his death and the official cause of death was an overdose of morphine and alcohol. According to Fisher in the 2005 biography Grievous Angel: An Intimate Biography of Gram Parsons, the amount of morphine consumed by Parsons would be lethal to three regular users and thus he had likely overestimated his tolerance considering his experience with opiates. Keith Richards, a close friend of Parsons, stated in the 2004 documentary film Fallen Angel that Parsons understood the danger of combining opiates and alcohol, and thus should have known better. Upon Parsons' death, Fisher and McElroy were returned to Los Angeles by Kaufman, who dispersed the remnants of Parsons' drugs in the desert.
    In the summer of 1973, Parsons' Topanga Canyon home burned to the ground, the result of a stray cigarette.
    More Details Hide Details Nearly all of his possessions were destroyed with the exception of a guitar and a prized Jaguar automobile. The fire proved to be the last straw in the relationship between Burrell and Parsons, who moved into a spare room in Kaufman's house. While not recording, he frequently hung out and jammed with members of New Jersey–based country rockers Quacky Duck and His Barnyard Friends and the proto-punk Jonathan Richman & the Modern Lovers, who were managed by Eddie Tickner. Before formally breaking up with Burrell, Parsons already had a woman waiting in the wings. While recording, he saw a photo of a beautiful woman at a friend's home and was instantly smitten. The woman turned out to be Margaret Fisher, a high school sweetheart of the singer from his Waycross, Georgia days. Like Parsons, Fisher had drifted west and became established in the Bay Area rock scene. A meeting was arranged and the two instantly rekindled their relationship, with Fisher dividing her weeks between Los Angeles and San Francisco at Parsons' expense.
    On July 14, 1973, White was killed by a drunk driver in Palmdale, California while loading equipment in his car for a concert with the New Kentucky Colonels.
    More Details Hide Details At White's funeral, Parsons and Bernie Leadon launched into an impromptu touching rendition of "Farther Along"; that evening, Parsons reportedly informed Phil Kaufman of his final wish: to be cremated in Joshua Tree. Despite the almost insurmountable setback, Parsons, Harris, and the other musicians decided to continue with plans for a fall tour.
    GP, released in 1973, featured Elvis Presley's lead guitarist James Burton, and featured new songs from a creatively revitalized Parsons such as "Big Mouth Blues" and "Kiss the Children," as well as a cover of Tompall Glaser's "Streets of Baltimore".
    More Details Hide Details Parsons, by now featuring Harris as his duet partner, played dates across the United States as Gram Parsons and the Fallen Angels.
    As a result, McGuinn ended up replacing three of Parsons' lead vocals with his own singing on the finished album, a move that still rankled Parsons as late as 1973, when he told Cameron Crowe in an interview that McGuinn "erased it and did the vocals himself and fucked it up."
    More Details Hide Details However, Parsons is still featured as lead vocalist on the songs "You're Still on My Mind", "Life in Prison", and "Hickory Wind".
    She assisted him on vocals for his first solo record, GP, released in 1973.
    More Details Hide Details Although it received enthusiastic reviews, the release failed to chart. His next album (Grievous Angel) met with a similar reception, and peaked at number 195 on Billboard.
  • 1972
    Age 25
    It came as a surprise to many when Parsons was enthusiastically signed to Reprise Records by Mo Ostin in mid-1972.
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    Parsons attempted to rekindle his relationship with the band on their 1972 tour to no avail.
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  • 1971
    Age 24
    After leaving the Stones' camp, Parsons married Burrell in 1971 at his stepfather's New Orleans estate.
    More Details Hide Details Allegedly, the relationship was far from stable, with Burrell cutting a needy and jealous figure while Parsons quashed her burgeoning film career. Many of the singer's closest associates and friends claim that Parsons was preparing to commence divorce proceedings at the time of his death; the couple had already separated by this point. Parsons and Burrell enjoyed the most idyllic time of their relationship, visiting old cohorts like Ian Dunlop and Family/Blind Faith/Traffic member Ric Grech in England. With the assistance of Grech and one of the bassist's friends, a doctor who also dabbled in country music and is now known as Hank Wangford, Parsons eventually stopped taking heroin (a treatment suggested by William Burroughs proved unsuccessful). He returned to the US for a one-off concert with the Burritos, and at Hillman's request went to hear Emmylou Harris sing in a small club in Washington, D.C. They befriended each other and, within a year, he asked her to join him in Los Angeles for another attempt to record his first solo album.
    He accompanied the Rolling Stones on their 1971 U.K. tour in the hope of being signed to the newly formed Rolling Stones Records, intending to record a duo album with Richards.
    More Details Hide Details Moving into Villa Nellcôte with the guitarist during the sessions for Exile on Main Street, Parsons remained in a consistently incapacitated state and frequently quarreled with his much younger girlfriend, aspiring actress Gretchen Burrell. Eventually, Parsons was asked to leave by Anita Pallenberg, Richards' longtime domestic partner. Richards suggests in his autobiography "Life" that Mick Jagger may have been the real driver for Parsons' departure given that Richards was spending so much time playing music with Parsons. Rumors have persisted that he appears somewhere on the legendary album, and while Richards concedes that it is very likely he is among the chorus of singers on "Sweet Virginia", to this day nothing has been substantiated.
    He soon signed with A&M Records, but after several unproductive sessions he canceled his intended solo debut in early 1971.
    More Details Hide Details Parsons moved to France, where he lived for a short period at Villa Nellcôte with his friend Keith Richards of The Rolling Stones. Returning to America, Parsons befriended Emmylou Harris through his friend and former bandmate Chris Hillman.
  • 1970
    Age 23
    Parsons signed a solo deal with A&M Records and moved in with producer Terry Melcher in early 1970.
    More Details Hide Details Melcher, who had worked with The Byrds and The Beach Boys and had rejected producing unknown singer/songwriter Charles Manson, was a member of the successful duo Bruce & Terry, also known as The Rip Chords. The two shared a mutual penchant for cocaine and heroin, and as a result, the sessions were largely unproductive, with Parsons eventually losing interest in the project. "Terry loved Gram and wanted to produce him... But neither of them could get anything done," recalled Eve Babitz. "Long lost, the tapes from this session have gathered a legendary patina," writes David Meyer. The recording stalled, and the master tapes were checked out, but there is conflict as to whether "Gram... or Melcher took them".
  • 1969
    Age 22
    By this time, Parsons's own use of drugs had increased so much that new songs were rare and much of his time was diverted to partying with the Stones, who briefly relocated to America in the summer of 1969 to finish their forthcoming Let It Bleed album and prepare for an autumn cross-country tour, their first series of regular live engagements since 1967.
    More Details Hide Details As they prepared to play the nation's largest basketball arenas, the Burritos played to dwindling nightclub audiences; one night Jagger had to literally order Parsons to fulfill an obligation to his group. The singer's dedication to the Rolling Stones was rewarded when the Burrito Brothers were booked as one of the acts at the infamous Altamont Music Festival. Playing a short set including "Six Days on the Road" and "Bony Moronie", Parsons left on one of the final helicopters and attempted to seduce Michelle Phillips. "Six Days " was included in Gimme Shelter, a documentary of the event. With mounting debt incurred, A&M hoped to recoup some of their losses by marketing the Burritos as a straight country group. To this end, manager Jim Dickson instigated a loose session where the band recorded several honky tonk staples from their live act, contemporary pop covers in a countrified vein ("To Love Somebody", "Lodi", "I Shall Be Released", "Honky Tonk Women"), and Larry Williams' "Bony Moronie". This was soon scrapped in favor of a second album of originals on an extremely reduced budget. Faced with a dearth of new material, most of the material was hastily written in the studio by Leadon, Hillman, and Parsons, with two Gilded Palace of Sin outtakes thrown into the mix. The resulting album, entitled Burrito Deluxe, was released in April 1970.
    Returning to Los Angeles, Parsons sought out Hillman, and the two formed The Flying Burrito Brothers with bassist Chris Ethridge and pedal steel player Sneaky Pete Kleinow. Their 1969 album The Gilded Palace of Sin marked the culmination of Parsons' post-1966 musical vision: a modernized variant of the Bakersfield sound that was popularized by Buck Owens amalgamated with strands of soul and psychedelic rock.
    More Details Hide Details The band appeared on the album cover wearing Nudie suits emblazoned with all sorts of hippie accoutrements, including marijuana and Seconal-inspired patches on Parsons' suit. Along with the Parsons-Hillman originals "Christine's Tune" and "Sin City" were versions of the soul music classics "The Dark End of the Street" and "Do Right Woman", the latter featuring David Crosby on high harmony. The album's original songs were the result of a very productive songwriting partnership between Parsons and Hillman, who were sharing a bachelor pad in the San Fernando Valley during this period. The atypically pronounced (for Parsons) gospel-soul influence on this album likely evolved from the ecumenical tastes of bassist Chris Ethridge (who co-wrote "Hot Burrito No. 1 (I'm Your Toy)" and "Hot Burrito No. 2" with Parsons) and frequent jamming with Delaney & Bonnie and Richards during the album's gestation.
  • 1968
    Age 21
    While in England with The Byrds in the summer of 1968, Parsons left the band due to his concerns over a planned concert tour of South Africa, and after speaking to Mick Jagger and Keith Richards about the tour, he cited opposition to that country's apartheid policies.
    More Details Hide Details There has been some doubt expressed by Hillman over the sincerity of Parsons' protest. It appears that Parsons was mostly apolitical, although he did refer to one of the younger African-American butlers in the Connor household as being "like a brother" to him in an interview. During this period Parsons became acquainted with Mick Jagger and Keith Richards of The Rolling Stones. Before Parsons' departure from The Byrds, he had accompanied the two Rolling Stones to Stonehenge (along with McGuinn and Hillman) in the English county of Wiltshire. Immediately after leaving the band, Parsons stayed at Richards' house and the pair developed a close friendship over the next few years, with Parsons reintroducing the guitarist to country music. According to Stones' confidant and close friend of Parsons, Phil Kaufman, the two would sit around for hours playing obscure country records and trading off on various songs with their guitars.
    However, these comments overlook the fact that Parsons, like Kelley, was considered a bona fide member of the band during 1968 and as such, was given equal billing alongside McGuinn, Hillman, and Kelley on the Sweetheart of the Rodeo album and in contemporary press coverage of the band.
    More Details Hide Details Sweetheart of the Rodeo was originally conceived by band leader Roger McGuinn as a sprawling, double album history of American popular music. It was to begin with bluegrass music, then move through country and western, jazz, rhythm and blues, and rock music, before finally ending with the most advanced (for the time) form of electronic music. However, as recording plans were made, Parsons exerted a controlling influence over the group, persuading the other members to leave Los Angeles and record the album in Nashville, Tennessee. Along the way, McGuinn's original album concept was jettisoned in favor of a fully fledged country project, which included Parsons' songs such as "One Hundred Years from Now" and "Hickory Wind", along with compositions by Bob Dylan, Woody Guthrie, Merle Haggard, and others. Recording sessions for Sweetheart of the Rodeo commenced at Columbia Records' recording studios in the Music Row area of Nashville on March 9, 1968. Mid-way through, the sessions moved to Columbia Studios, Hollywood, Los Angeles. They finally came to a close on May 27, 1968. However, Parsons was still under contract to LHI Records and consequently, Hazlewood contested Parsons' appearance on the album and threatened legal action.
    After leaving the group in late 1968, Parsons and fellow Byrd Chris Hillman formed The Flying Burrito Brothers in 1969, releasing their debut, The Gilded Palace of Sin, the same year.
    More Details Hide Details The album was well received but failed commercially; after a sloppy cross-country tour, they hastily recorded Burrito Deluxe. Parsons was fired from the band before its release in early 1970.
  • 1966
    Age 19
    In 1966, he and other musicians from the Boston folk scene formed a group called the International Submarine Band.
    More Details Hide Details They relocated to Los Angeles the following year, and after several lineup changes signed to Lee Hazlewood's LHI Records, where they spent late 1967 recording Safe at Home. The album contains one of Parsons' best-known songs, "Luxury Liner", and an early version of "Do You Know How It Feels", which he revisited later on in his career. Safe at Home would remain unreleased until mid-1968, by which time the International Submarine Band had broken up. By 1968 Parsons had come to the attention of The Byrds' bassist, Chris Hillman, via Larry Spector (The Byrds' business manager), as a possible replacement band member following the departures of David Crosby and Michael Clarke from the group in late 1967. Parsons had been acquainted with Hillman since the pair had met in a bank during 1967 and in February 1968 he passed an audition for the band, being initially recruited as a jazz pianist but soon switching to rhythm guitar and vocals.
    Although he claimed to have studied theology (an oblique reference to his close friendship with his residential tutor, Harvard Divinity School graduate student Jet Thomas) in subsequent interviews, Parsons seldom attended his general education courses before departing after one semester in early 1966.
    More Details Hide Details However, he did not become seriously interested in country music until his time at Harvard, where he heard Merle Haggard for the first time.
    Parsons was born in Winter Haven, Florida, and developed an interest in country music while attending Harvard University. He founded the International Submarine Band in 1966 and, after several months of delay, their debut Safe at Home was released in 1968 (by which time the group had disbanded).
    More Details Hide Details Parsons joined The Byrds in early 1968, and played a pivotal role in the making of the seminal Sweetheart of the Rodeo album.
  • 1965
    Age 18
    Notable Parsons-penned songs included "$1000 Wedding," a holdover from the Burrito Brothers era, and "Brass Buttons," a 1965 opus which addresses his mother's alcoholism.
    More Details Hide Details Also included was a new version of "Hickory Wind" and "Ooh Las Vegas," co-written with Grech and dating from the GP sessions. Despite the fact that Parsons only contributed two new songs to the album ("In My Hour of Darkness", "Return of the Grievous Angel"), Parsons was highly enthused with his new sound and seemed to have finally adopted a serious, diligent mindset to his musical career, eschewing most drugs including alcohol during the sessions. Before recording, Parsons and Harris played a preliminary three show mini-tour as the headline act in a Warner Brothers country-rock package. The backing band included Clarence White, Pete Kleinow, and Chris Etheridge.
    They were torn apart in early 1965, when Robert became embroiled in an extramarital affair and Avis' heavy drinking led to her death from cirrhosis on June 5, 1965, the day of Gram's graduation from Bolles.
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  • 1964
    Age 17
    Forays into New York City (where Parsons briefly cohabited with a female folk singer in a loft on Houston Street) included a performance at Florida's exhibition in the 1964 New York World's Fair and regular appearances at the Café Rafio on Bleecker Street in Greenwich Village in the summer of 1964.
    More Details Hide Details Although John Phillips (an acquaintance of Shilo George Wrigley) facilitated an exploratory meeting with Albert Grossman, the impresario balked at booking the group for a Christmas engagement at The Bitter End when he discovered that the Shilos were high school students. Following a recording session at the radio station of Bob Jones University, the group—encumbered by a creative impasse amid the emergence of folk rock—dissolved in the spring of 1965. Despite his middling grades and test scores, Parsons was admitted to Harvard University's class of 1969 on the basis of a strong admissions essay.
  • 1963
    Age 16
    By the age of 16 he graduated to folk music, and in 1963 he teamed with his first professional outfit, the Shilos, in Greenville, South Carolina.
    More Details Hide Details Heavily influenced by The Kingston Trio and The Journeymen, the band played hootenannies, coffee houses and high school auditoriums; as Parsons was still enrolled in prep school, he only performed with the group in select engagements.
  • 1958
    Age 11
    Parsons' father committed suicide two days before Christmas in 1958, devastating the 12 year old Gram and his younger sister, Little Avis.
    More Details Hide Details Avis subsequently married Robert Parsons, whose surname was adopted by Gram and his sister. Parsons briefly attended the prestigious Bolles School in Jacksonville, Florida before transferring to the public Winter Haven High School; after failing his junior year, he returned to Bolles (which had subsequently transitioned from a military to a liberal arts curriculum amid the incipient Vietnam War) at the behest of a family friend. For a time, the family found a stability of sorts.
  • 1956
    Age 9
    As his family disintegrated around him, Parsons developed strong musical interests, particularly after seeing Elvis Presley perform in concert on February 22, 1956, in Waycross.
    More Details Hide Details Five years later, while barely in his teens, he played in rock and roll cover bands such as the Pacers and the Legends, headlining in clubs owned by his stepfather in the Winter Haven/Polk County area.
  • 1946
    Born on November 5, 1946.
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