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The Flying Burrito Brothers was an early country rock band, best known for its influential debut album, 1969's The Gilded Palace of Sin. Although the group is most often mentioned in connection with country rock legends Gram Parsons and Chris Hillman, the group underwent many personnel changes.


The "Flying Burrito Brothers" "borrowed" their name from the original "Flying Burrito Brothers", which consisted of bassist Ian Dunlop and drummer Mickey Gauvin, Parsons's bandmates from the Bostonmarker-based International Submarine Band, plus any of a loose coalition of musicians. In 1968, the original Brothers moved from Los Angelesmarker to New York Citymarker to concentrate on creating and playing music without the distractions of the music industry. From New York they continued to tour the Northeast United States, playing their eclectic traditional/rockabilly/blues/R&B-oriented version of rock, using the name "The Flying Burrito Brothers East" after Parsons' group became famous.

Meanwhile, on the West Coast, Parsons and musician Chris Hillman thought this same moniker would be perfectly suited to the band they had been dreaming of since early 1968, when, as members of Roger McGuinn's band The Byrds, they created one of the first country-oriented rock albums, Sweetheart of the Rodeo. They immersed themselves in their vision in their house in the San Fernando Valleymarker, dubbed "Burrito Manor", even replacing their wardrobe with a set of custom country-Western suits from Nudie's Rodeo Tailors, tailor to the C&W stars. Parsons' suit had marijuana leaf embroidery, as seen on The Gilded Palace of Sin album cover & on Nudie's Rodeo Tailors Online Museum Celebrity Photo Gallery. At this juncture, the band also included pianist/bassist Chris Ethridge, drummer Michael Clarke (of The Byrds), and pedal steel guitarist Sneaky Pete Kleinow.

Their first album, The Gilded Palace of Sin (1969), did not sell well, but the group had a cult following which included musicians such as Bob Dylan and The Rolling Stones.

Burrito Deluxe, Chris Etheridge departed, Chris Hillman moved to bass, and guitarist/Dobro player/vocalist Bernie Leadon was added. The FBB were among the initial acts on the stage at the Rolling Stones' infamous "Altamont" concertmarker in December 1969, and were on stage when one of the first fights broke out in front of the stage, as documented in the film, Gimme Shelter. Parsons soon became friends with Rolling Stone Keith Richards, and left the group after the release of Burrito Deluxe in 1970.

Rick Roberts replaced Parsons and released a self-titled album with the group in 1971. Kleinow then left to become a session musician and Leadon joined The Eagles. Al Perkins and Roger Bush replaced them, and Kenny Wertz and Byron Berline joined as well, releasing Last of the Red Hot Burritos (1972), a live album. The band fell apart. Hillman and Perkins joined Manassas, while Berline, Bush and Wertz formed Country Gazette. Roberts reassembled a new group for a 1973 European tour, and then began a solo career before forming Firefall with Michael Clarke.

As Gram Parsons' influence and fame grew, so did interest in the Flying Burrito Brothers, leading to the release of Close Up The Honky Tonks (1974), a double-LP compilation of album tracks, b-sides, and outtakes; and the recreation of the band by Kleinow and Ethridge in 1975. Floyd "Gib" Gilbeau, Joel Scott Hill and Gene Parsons (no relation to Gram) also joined, and the band released Flying Again that year. Ethridge was then replaced by Skip Battin for Airborne (1976), followed by an album of unreleased early material, Sleepless Nights. For the next few decades, the group released albums and toured and had a country hit with "White Line Fever" (1980, a cover by Merle Haggard) and then became the Burrito Brothers.

Headed by songwriter and guitarist John Beland and Gib Guilbeau, and normally featuring Sneaky Pete, this incarnation scored well on the Country charts in the early 1980s, marking the first significant commercial chart success the band ever had. In 1981 they received the Billboard Magazine Award for "Best New Crossover Group" from pop to country. The Burrito Brothers continued to work with the top session players in Nashville and LA, logging up an impressive list of hit singles for Curb Records. In the 80's they toured Europe with Emmylou Harris, Jerry Lee Lewis and Tammy Wynette and appeared at London's Wembley Stadium. Also in the early 80's, the Burrito Brothers were responsible for spearheading a world wide campaign that finally saw their idol, the legendary Lefty Frizzell inducted into the Country Music Hall Of Fame.

Through numerous incarnations (nearly all with Beland at the helm), the band released albums and toured throughout the 1980s and '90s. The latter day Flying Burrito Brothers CDs, produced by Beland, did feature an impressive line-up of guests, including Merle Haggard, Buck Owens, Waylon Jennings, Alison Krauss, Ricky Skaggs, Charlie Louvin, and others. The band's final two CDs, California Jukebox and Sons Of The Golden West, received solid critical reviews. However, Beland finally called it quits for the band in 2000, and embarked upon a successful career as a record producer. Sneaky created a Burritos spin-off in his new band Burrito Deluxe, which featured Carlton Moody on lead vocals and Garth Hudson from The Band on keyboards. The band scored no chart success, relying solely on live appearances in Europe. Pete left the band due to illness in 2005, leaving no direct lineage to any of the actual Flying Burrito Brothers members, past or present.

Gram Parsons died on September 19, 1973. Michael Clarke died in 1993. "Sneaky Pete" Kleinow died on January 6, 2007. Chris Hillman is still a successful singer-songwriter, having been part of the Souther-Hillman-Furay Band and McGuinn-Clark-Hillman, then going on to form the Desert Rose Band (1986–1993) with Herb Pedersen. He still sings with Pedersen today as Chris and Herb, having released "The Other Side" (2005). A chain of Mexican restaurants in New Zealand is named after the band.

Gib Guilbeau is retired, following massive heart surgery, and currently lives in Palmdale, California. He still appears occasionally at local functions in and around the Los Angeles area. John Beland continues to produce acts here in America and abroad, scoring hit records in both Australia and Norway, where he still performs solo as a solo act throughout the year. Beland has written hits for acts such as the Whites "Forever You", Mark Farner "Isn't It Amazing?" and the Bellamy Brothers "Cowboy Beat", "Hard Way To Make An Easy Living" and "Bound To Explode." His songs have been covered by many acts from Ricky Nelson to Garth Brooks. John currently lives in Brenham, Texas.


Studio albums

Live albums

Compilation albums


Year Single US Country Album
1980 "White Line Fever" 95 single only
1981 "She's a Friend of a Friend" 67 Hearts on the Line
"Does She Wish She Was Single Again" 20
"She Belongs to Everyone but Me" 16
1982 "If Something Should Come Between Us (Let It Be Love)" 27 Sunset Sundown
"Closer to You" 40
"I'm Drinkin' Canada Dry" 39
"Blue and Broken Hearted Me" 48 singles only
1984 "Almost Saturday Night" 49
"My Kind of Lady" 53


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