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Live At The Avalon 1969
Gram Parsons Archives Volume One
Gram Parsons with The Flying Burrito Brothers
Live at the Avalon Ballroom 1969

These recordings are unavailable on iTunes.

Amoeba AM0002

April 4, 1969

1. Close Up The Honky Tonks (2:38)
(Red Simpson) Sony/ATV Tree, BMI

2. Dark End Of The Street
(C. Moman – D. Penn) Screen Gems – EMI, BMI

3. Medley (3:16)
     Undo The Right
      (W. Nelson – H. Cochran) Sony/ATV Tree, BMI
     Somebody’s Back In Town
      (D. Helms, T. Wilburn, D. Wilburn) Sure-Fire Music, BMI

4. She Once Lived Here (3:54)
(Autry Inman) Universal Songs/Polygram, BMI

5. We’ve Got To Get Ourselves Together
(B. Bramlett – D. Bramlett – C. Radle) Irving Music, BMI

6. Lucille (2:38)
(Penneman – Collins) Sony/ATV Songs, BMI

7. Hot Burrito #1 (3:40)
(Ethridge – Parsons) Irving Music, BMI

8. Hot Burrito #2 (4:05)
(Ethridge – Parsons) Irving Music, BMI

9. Long Black Limousine (3:38)
(V. Stovall – B. George) Unichappelle Music, BMI

10. Mental Revenge (3:07)
(Mel Tillis) Universal/Cedarwood Publ., BMI

11. Sin City (4:02)
(Parsons – Hillman) Irving Music, BMI

Special Bonus Tracks, Previously unreleased home recordings:

12. Thousand Dollar Wedding (4:24)
(Gram Parsons) Dimensional, GPJ, Hot Burrito, Sixteen Stars, BMI
Demo Recording, 1969

13. When Will I Be Loved
(P. Everly) Sony/ATV, Acuff Rose, BMI
Recorded in NYC, 1967.

April 6, 1969

1. Medley (3:16)
     Undo The Right
      (W. Nelson – H. Cochran) Sony/ATV Tree, BMI
     Somebody’s Back In Town
      (D. Helms, T. Wilburn, D. Wilburn) Sure-Fire Music, BMI

2. She Once Lived Here (4:06)
(Autry Inman) Universal Songs/Polygram, BMI

3. Mental Revenge (3:13)
(Mel Tillis) Universal/Cedarwood Publ., BMI

4. We’ve Got To Get Ourselves Together
(B. Bramlett – D. Bramlett – C. Badle) Irving Music, BMI

5. Lucille (2:39)
(Penneman – Collins) Sony/ATV Songs, BMI

6. Sin City (4:08)
(Parsons – Hillman) Irving Music, BMI

7. You Win Again (3:06)
(Hank Williams) Sony/ATV, BMI

8. Hot Burrito #1 (3:53)
(Ethridge – Parsons) Irving Music, BMI

9. Hot Burrito #2 (4:00)
(Ethridge – Parsons) Irving Music, BMI

10. You’re Still On My Mind (2:34)
(Luke McDaniel) Glad/Pappy Daily, BMI

11. Train Song (3:43)
(Parsons – Hillman) Irving Music, BMI

12. Long Black Limousine (3:15)
(V. Stovall – B. George) Unichappelle Music, BMI

13. Dream Baby (How Long Must I Dream) (3:18)
(Cindy Walker) Combine Music, BMI

14. Do Right Woman (5:01)
(C. Moman – D. Penn) Screen Gems- EMI, BMI

Quite often, people as me, “What is your favorite band of all time?” expecting me to say Led Zeppelin or the Stones. The Mothers of Inventions? Jimi Hendrix, perhaps? My one an only answer usually surprises them: The Flying Burrito Brothers. I have literally been waiting for this album to appear for decades.

One of my favorite claims to fame is that except for their consummate road manager, Jimmi Seiter, I have been to more Burrito Brothers shows than anyone else on the planet. I didn’t miss a single gig in Los Angeles, and would hitchhike hundreds of miles to swoon over “Do Right Woman” or “Hot Burrito #1,” afraid I might miss the most heart-wrenching versions yet. Even at eighteen, I knew something very special was going on and I didn’t want to miss a single momentous note. Listening to this oh-so-alive music once more has been an extremely heady experience, taking me down to the dance floor over and over again.

The best thing about this remarkable trek back to San Francisco, 1969, is just how perfectly it captures the live Burritos experience, beginning with their usual rousing opening number, “Close Up The Honky Tonks,” it’s overwhelming to hear the medley “Undo The Right/Somebody’s Back In Town” again – the ideal country combo. And “Sin City” sounds exactly like I heard it played so many times. In my opinion, this original incarnation of the band is the truest – Gram, Chris, Sneaky Pete, Chris Ethridge, and the ever-adorable Mike Clarke. You can really hear Hillman’s pure, sweet harmonies, accenting Gram’s plaintive melodies just right. And Sneaky Pete’s psychedelic, oft-imitated, innovative pedal steel breaks all the rules, loud and clear. Close your eyes and you can almost see the rhinestones twinkle on their scandalous Nudie suits while the trippy-hippie light shows swirls ‘round and ‘round.

I was fortunate enough to see the short-lived version of the Byrds at the Kaleidoscope on Sunset, featuring the newest member, Gram Parsons, and witnessed the birth of a brand-spankin’ new sound. Chris Hillman had put his mandolin and penchant for bluegrass on the back burner, fired up again after fortuitously meeting the like-minded country boy in line at the bank. The sold-out Hollywood audience that night was dumbfounded. The result seemed to surprise even Roger McGuinn, and it would eventually shake up the rock world, but acceptance of what Gram called “Cosmic American Music” was slow in coming.

After Gram refused to tour with the Byrds in South Africa due to apartheid, the Southern upstart was promptly fired. Shortly thereafter, Chris Hillman quit the band, Gram contacted him immediately, and the Flying Burrito Brothers started making history.

Some nights only a handful of country-loving diehards showed up at the Palomino Club or the Troubadour to revel in the long-haired, soulful strum and twang, but it only seemed to fire up the Burritos. Gram had a laser-beam focus, determined to bring together seemingly disparate types of music – country, blues, and rock – to create a sound that is now as accepted and familiar as he believed it would be.

The recently discovered treasure you hold in your hands has the Burritos opening for The Grateful Dead at the Avalon Ballroom, and features a plethora of daring cover tunes, from Hank Williams’ “You Win Again” to George Jones’ “She Once Lived Here.” There’s even a raucous take on Waylon Jennings’ wicked “Sweet Mental Revenge,” long before he joined forces with Willie and became an outlaw. It’s hard to imagine these selections being controversial today, but trust me, in the late ‘60s it was a presient, dramatic, cheeky move.

I had always thought of country music as lame and corny, played by backwoods guys with crew cuts, until Gram sat me down with a fat joint and played me albums by Merle Haggard, Waylon, and George Jones, the man he called “The King Of Broken Hearts.” I instantly understood his passion for honky-tonk, and am eternally grateful to him for enlightening me so profoundly. More than once I saw Gram weep while singing “She Once Lived Here,” tears sliding down his face, his voice cracking – “I see her face in the cool of the evening/I hear her voice in each breeze loud and clear.”

I was crazy about Chris Hillman, and Gram soon became a true-blue pal. Along with Miss Mercy, (one of the girls in my group, the GTO’s). I was invited to several The Gilded Palace of Sin recording sessions. We both happily warbled off-key on the chorus of the stoner song, “Hippie Boy,” feeling very honored indeed. I became an honorary “Burrito Sister,” and was privy to the real tales behind the tunes. I knew, for instance, that Gram’s love, Nancy, refused to call him “old man” because she felt he was too young at age 23 to merit such a term. She called him her “old boy,” which wound up as a lyric in the stunning “Hot Burrito #1.” I also knew Gram was concerned that calling out “Jesus Christ!” on “Hot Burrito #2” might keep the song from being played on the radio, which, sadly, turned out to be wishful thinking. I saw the Burritos off at the station when they left on their infamous tour, and patiently waited for postcards and phone calls, playing their first album incessantly until they came back.

I was there at the Avalon Ballroom that intoxicating night in April of ’69. For awhile I had the dance floor to myself, twirling along to the cheating R&B “Dark End Of The Street” and the soul-shaking Delaney and Bonnie tune “Get Ourselves Together.” Some of the tie-dyed, head-banded Grateful Dead fans seemed to appreciate the new blend of sounds, but I still felt like I was in on a thrilling secret. Even though this band has influenced more musicians than can ever be counted, the Flying Burrito Brothers are still somewhat of a secret – a secret I’m glad you’re in on.

It’s an intoxicating honor to have the Burritos sing me back home with songs I used to hear, making my old memories come so brilliantly alive.

– Pamela Des Barres


I’ll never forget the first time I heard Gram Parsons. The year was 1969, the place, Queens, New York. I was sixteen. My friend John Nelson had just purchased The Gilded Palace Of Sin at E.J. Korvettes and insisted that I have a listen. “What is this crap?” I responded. “This is country. I can’t listen to this – it’s so uncool.” Yet I was drawn to it like a moth to a tire fire. And I have never been the same. So, here we are, almost forty years later, with some of the best unheard material from my favorite band and singer ever. And if my old friend John Nelson is out there – buddy, do I have something for you to listen to.

If you have a minute, I’ll tell you about the incredible chain of events that had to unfold in order for this CD to have reached your ears.

First, I needed to meet Gram’s daughter, Polly Parsons, and convince her that I was just crazy enough to take this on. Thanks to Rik Sanchez, Shilah Morrow, and Tim Easton for the introduction. We had lunch at Gram’s old haunt, the Chateau Marmont, where many magical things happen. We talked about how long it had been since any fresh material of Gram’s had come out and how it was time. Polly could see by the pinwheels in my eyes that I was her man. At the end of the day Polly invited me to her wedding, a beautiful occasion, and we’ve been friends and partners ever since.

Next we needed to find something good enough to release. Was there anything extraordinary out there that had never surfaced? Well, there were rumors for many years that there was some great GP material in the Dead vault taped by the Dead’s sound engineer and master taper of his generation, Owsley Stanley, aka “Bear.” The problem was that no one had ever heard them. Then, one day, I got a call from Joel Selvin, music journalist and friend of the Dead. He wanted to know if I’d like to meet him at the Dead vault the next day to hear what they had. “Well, hell, yes!” I said. When we got there, the Dead’s archivist, David Lemieux, was there to greet us. The Dead vault was truly unbelievable, as almost every show the Dead ever played was chronologically arranged on shelf after shelf from 1966 all the way through the ‘90s. David explained how there were over 16,000 hours of Dead material in the vault (that’s about two-and-a-half years’ worth). But I was more interested in the possible four or five hours of Gram.

The first song David played for us was “Long Black Limousine” from April 4, 1969 when the Flying Burrito Brothers opened for the Dead at San Francisco’s famous Avalon Ballroom. I had never heard this show – nobody had in 38 years. As I pressed my ear to the speaker, Gram’s voice, so clear and pure, sang “The Papers Told Of How You Lost Your Love” – and it was like he was in the room with me. The tapes existed. Gram was telling me that I had found them.

Now all I had to do was license them from Bear “Just one problem with that,” David pointed out. “Bear hasn’t licensed anything out of his personal vault since 1970.” And so for almost a year, I tried to work something out with Bear, but it seemed like it was not to be, for, try as I might, he simply wouldn’t sign. He could not be tempted by money and had trust issues with all but his immediate family.

Bear was a one hundred lock box that I realized I would never be able to open without some divine help. It appeared that these tapes might be lost forever, never to be heard again, when something amazing happened; that something amazing was David Grisman.

While working on a Gypsy Jazz album with David, which was way cool, I happened to mention the Gram project and Bear’s tapes. David asked me how it was going with Bear. When I replied, “Not so good,” David suggested that I call his manager Craig Miller who might be able to help.

Craig confirmed that it wouldn’t matter what I did – Bear wouldn’t sign. I signed resignedly. He asked me how long I’d been trying. I told him about a year. Then he said the most beautiful, mellifluous words I have ever heard since Nixon announced the end of the draft. He said, “I can get Bear to sign off in a day.” “What day would that be?” I queried, “New Year’s Day, 2050?”

“No, really, I can,” Craig said. He went on to tell me that Bear wanted to release an Old & In The Way box set with his tapes. They’d been putting him off, but he was confident that Bear would sign off on the Gram if they signed off on his project. “But, Craig,” I said, “you don’t even want to do this box set. I can’t ask you to do this for me.” Then Craig said the sweetest, kindest words and the reason we’re all here today: “But we are,” he said. “We were probably going to do the box set sooner or later anyway, and we feel your project is important. David and I are going to help you.”

And the next day, Craig Miller faxed me a copy of our contract with Bear’s signature on it. It was elegant and beautiful, and I regarded it as an autograph collector might regard a Caesar. But one Bear meant more to me than all the Caesars in the world. For one Bear meant that these beautiful recordings would finally be heard and not lost in the flames of oblivion forever. So, thanks again, Bear. These tapes are a true blessing for any Gram fan.

Now, listen to the CDs and enjoy. They’re everything that Bear captured from the April 4 and April 6 Avalon shows in the exact order that they were played those nights. They have been beautifully remastered by Bear’s engineer of choice, Paul Stubblebine. And a big shout out to Paul for all his hard work and the great job he did.

Also included are two additional tracks not taped by Bear; a beautiful demo of “Thousand Dollar Wedding” taped at Jimmi Seiter’s house in 1969 and a version of “When Will I Be Loved,” taped sometime in 1967. Thanks to Jimmi for these two tracks, and look for more cool stuff from Jimmi’s vault in upcoming archive volumes.

Signing off for now. Your pal in all things GRAM, Dave Prinz.

Produced for release by Dave Prinz

Gram Parsons – Lead Vocals, guitar, piano
Chris Hillman – Guitar, backup vocals
Chris Ethridge – bass
Sneaky Pete Kleinow – Pedal Steel
Michael Clarke – Drums

Album front cover photo by Tom Wilkes.
Album back cover photo © 2007 Andee Nathanson.
Booklet front cover photo © 2007 Andee Nathanson.
Art direction – David Gorman, Arthur Nakata, and Charlie Terrell.
Master journal tapes by Owsley “Bear” Stanley.
Special previously unreleased bonus tracks recorded by Jimmi Seiter:
“Thousand Dollar Wedding” – Gram Parsons, vocals/piano
Demo recorded at Jimmi Seiter’s house in LA, 1969 (Disc 1, track 12)
“When Will I Be Loved” – Gram Parsons and Friends
Recorded in NYC, 1967 (Disc 1, track 13)

Transferring studios for tracks 12 and 13 only (disc one) Penguin, Eagle Rock, CA
Mastering Engineer – Paul Stubblebine
Bonus tracks courtesy of Jimmi Seiter.

Copyright © 2007 Amoeba Records LLC. All Rights Reserved.

Special thanks to everyone else who helped along the way.

Tom Wilkes – For this beautiful cover photo
Andee Nathanson – For the amazing photos of Gram that she saved all these years just for this project.

Don Passman – The man who got us through the labyrinth label issues we faced. The man who has cleared where no man has gone before.

Ed Greer – Our consigliere. Thanks for all your guidance, hard work, and always taking my calls.

Chris Ethridge – Without his steadfast support and spirit, this project would have never happened.

Anita Kleinow – Whose love and support has always been there.

The Grateful Dead – For having the most generous of musical spirits and letting us visit the vaults.
Joe Goldmark – For all his help and support.
Pamela Des Barres – For her wonderful liner notes and her beautiful spirit.

Lori Katz, my assistant – (and you know that can’t be easy).
Yvonne Prinz – For all of her support and for putting up with me every day.

Rob Prinz – For all of his support and love.
John Delgatto – For keeping the music alive.

My Partners Karen Pearson, Jim Henderson and Marc Weinstein – AND the entire Amoeba family, whose hard work and dedication made this all possible.
David Grisman and Craig Miller – For their incredible generosity.

David Lemieux – The Dead’s archivist who went out of his way to make this happen. A truly great guy.
Lawrence Dunlap – Amoeba’s Archivist. This guy can find anything.

Joel Salvin – For getting us in and for all his sage counsel.
Brandi Shearer – For all her help and inspiration.
Paul Surratt – For the great video of “Long Black Limousine.”
Bear – The greatest taper ever.
Paul Stubblebine – For his amazing work remastering.
Chris Hillman – For being the one to bring Gram into the light of the world and for always being there for him.

Special thanks for David Gorman and Arthur Nakata and the HackMart gang for the amazing package design and positive spirit in the 11th hour.
Polly Parsons – For believing in me.

Fontana Distribution
(P) & © Amoeba Records LLC. All Rights Reserved. Manufactured by Amoeba Records LLC 6400 Sunset Boulevard, Hollywood, CA 90028. Distributed by Fontana Distribution, LLC. Warning: Unauthorized duplication is a violation of applicable laws and subject to criminal punishment. Made in the U.S.A.

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