Talk:Gram Parsons

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Former featured article Gram Parsons is a former featured article. Please see the links under Article milestones below for its original nomination page (for older articles, check the nomination archive) and why it was removed.

older entries[edit]

I really didn't change it that much. Started out making sure he was credited with being born near where I was, went on from there. Ortolan88

Except, he wasn't. Waycross claim Parsons was born there, but he really was born in Winter Haven, and raised in Waycross. <<Someone---Waycross actually does not claim he was born here. We have an exhibit that clearly states that he was raised in Waycross, nothing more. Please, see to it that you correct yourself and your thoughts.

I was going by that Byrds web site in the link. Another web site says born in Winter Haven, but parents lived in Waycross. It's a lot more likely that a country-oriented singer would come from Waycross than from Winter Haven, believe me.

He was raised there from a few months to 13 years old, so his primary influences were Georgia (and why he is occasionally thought born there) -- User:GWO

Looks like it's the reverse of the Edward Said deal, where it's politically advantageous to emphasize his birth in Palestine even though his parents were really from Egypt and just there on a visit. I'll leave it be, but as a fellow south Georgian, born and bred in the briar patch, believe me I'll keep looking for Waycross evidence. That 'Dosta Flash, Ortolan88

Hi, and please do forgive me. I'm not much of one to follow entertainers, and Gram Parsons is new to me. This article reads like I already know something about him - that he had something to do with a musig group "The Birds", for example. It would be helpful to explain in the first paragraph why Parsons is worthy of an article (that is, state the most important stuff first), then let the article weave the story together, including how he found fame. Please let me know if I can be of help with further comments as an outside observer. -- ke4roh 05:13, Jul 18, 2004 (UTC)

Gram Parsons was an almost monotone singer who could strum a guitar, not really the stuff of musical legend. He was however a trust fund "hippie" in the 1960's who bought his way into any situation he pleased. The greed of the music industry was then as it is now-alive and well. Gram wanted to sing country music so he "bought" a band. It was that simple. His anemic voice would never have gotten him a record deal then or now, add to that his reckless use of cocaine, heroin, alcohol and other substances made him even less desirable as a companion or business associate. But he had money, and that made all the difference, especially in the shallow snake pit known as the music business. Gram was catered to by the gold-diggers and moneygrubbers who made "the scene" in L.A. at that time.

The chasm between country music and rock music at that time could not have been any wider. Crossing that line could prove dangerous if not deadly. Country singers were whiskey soaked gun-toting hotheads in clean pressed pants, rockers were generally middle-class youths dressed like clowns, childishly acting out and playing "revolution" while never having had experienced times any harder than perhaps running out of marijuana. Rock music lyrics were generally inane prattle invoking no more than the writer's nostalgia for long ago bedtime nursery rhymes. Country lyrics were often too real as its purveyors such as Merle Haggard had actually lived the hurt and heartache of which they sang.

Gram inadvertently helped to blur that musical and cultural battle line but not with his thin voice. It was his money that talked and in the confusion of greed and egotism the two forms of music intertwined. The major scale melodies of country music started to appear over the I, IV, V chord pattern rock had borrowed from the blues. Pedal steel guitars began to sing their sweet sometimes mournful sounds in places unheard of previously. The high lonesome bluegrass fiddle was soon joining in. All forms of indigenous music finally came together after a few hundred years of separation. It was all American, only from different parts of America.

Country-rock was a term used at the time. Gram in his drug induced haze called it "Cosmic American Music". The Grateful Dead started playing Hank Williams and Marty Robbins. Jerry Garcia was heard playing pedal steel and also renewed his interest banjo music. His contribution to the founding of The New Riders of The Purple Sage was perhaps the turning point along with the appearance and success of bands like Commander Cody and His Lost Planet Airmen.

In the south, The Allman Brothers Band showcased lengthy well thought out and moving major scale twin guitar harmonies. Bob Wills' Texas Playboys had touched on the twin guitar or fiddle phrasing in the 1940's and 50's around the Texas and Oklahoma panhandles. Even the sparse blues sound southern blacks evoked some 50 years earlier was taken to new heights by The Allman Brothers talent and their amplifiers as evidenced in "Statesboro Blues" to name just one song (written in 1928 by Blind Willie McTell), wherein blues, country and rock all mixed and became southern rock. No stone was left unturned.

Gram Parsons turned one of those first Stones, befriending Rolling Stones guitarist Keith Richards to be precise. An Englishman, Richard's boyhood idol was Roy Rogers and while The Rolling Stones had already commandeered American Blues music, soon, under Gram's influence they were immersed for a time in American country-rock music also, complete with fiddles, drawls and "y'alls".

Gram Parsons role was integral but unintended and his legend now is larger than his talent ever was. American music has since homogenized down to incoherent nonsense and the old musical barriers are being erected again. The music business has returned to it's business-as-usual day-to-day sell the product mindset. Write the same song over and over. Country singers wearing duster coats on stage like fools and sing "punchline" songs, while over there, a new batch of white upper-middle-class kids sing about the angst they must endure caused by not knowing what to do with their hair. They have $5000 PRS guitars and every other modern tool at their disposal but no talent, no soul and nothing to say. Black music has become a sing-song tirade of rhyming complaints about street level racism and violence called "Rap Music" which is churned out by young black men who live in mansions and whose only burden is wearing too much gold jewelry. Muddy Waters started out with a guitar string.

Gram Parsons helped invent and change American music but it was by accident NOT BY DESIGN. It just happens that way and I just happened to be there and heard it all. - Bob Wyman The preceding unsigned comment was added by (talk • contribs) 11 Dec 2005.

I can't argue too much with that (except that I don't think he was near-monotone, and I could do without the kids-these-days condescension towards the end), but (1) being an ambassador across musical cultures is no small achievement and (2) "Hickory Wind", "Sin City", and several other songs of Parsons' seem to me to stand up pretty well after almost forty years. But mostly, a good corrective to the tendency to idolize a fuck-up. -- Jmabel | Talk 19:21, 11 December 2005 (UTC)
That's a pretty interesting perspective that doesn't really get considered much now, in retrospect. Seems a bit like sour grapes in a way... I think it's funny that this link is at the top of Bob Wyman's site, but I'm not really even sure what the tone of that comment was supposed to be. Gram Parsons didn't really have a very strong voice, sure, but he was undoubtedly emotive, and the separation between country and rock in today's homogenized mainstream probably isn't his fault at all. I don't really know why it's especially important that his contributions were "by accident NOT BY DESIGN" but thanks for the interesting comment. --SchnappM 18:32, 25 December 2005 (UTC)

Regarding Gram Parsons and Hickory Wind: It seems unfair to omit the controversy concerning his possible -- perhaps unwitting, since he may have thought that the song was in the public domain -- plagiarism of the song "Hickory Wind" from the article. The song was cited by the author of a definitive biography of the artist, Ben Fong-Torres -- whom I happened to go to school with -- as one of his finest moments as a songwriter. It's possibly the only song supposedly written by him to retain a certain fame, contributing the name at least to the title of the biography by Fong-Torres.

When you couple this debatable authorship, complete with an elaborate history as supplied by Parsons, to the equally-disputed claim mentioned in the article about his supposed authorship, or co-authorship, of the Rolling Stones hit, "Honky Tonk Woman," it becomes reasonable to believe that he was sometimes given to a certain level of extravagance when talking about his own contributions to other people's work. This is clearly a subject about which people may have strong beliefs, since some people believe Parsons to be a central figure in the history of rock music, while others believe him to be a minor player at best. But honesty would seem to favor acknowledgement that there are people with strong feelings about this, including the blind community and many musicians.

Ownership of the copyright is not the same as authorship,and it's my opinion that Sylvia Sammons, a blind lyricist and singer who actually lived in the Carolinas so central to the lyrics, deserves initial credit, despite having evidently sold her rights to the song to Parsons or his publisher in 1969, some time after Parsons had claimed it as his own. Internal evidence points at least to the fact that the song was written by a woman, assuming that it's at all biographical, and it's achieved much of its fame through covers by women, including most famously Joan Baez and Emmylou Harris.

It's easy to find the controversy on the Web, but the most definitive explorations appear to be here: Link to Folklinks article and here: Link to Houston Press article Lee-Anne 19:42, 4 December 2006 (UTC)

Birth name[edit]

Online sources seem to be about 50-50 on "Cecil Ingram Connor" vs. "Ingram Cecil Connor". Does anyone have a solid citation, like from a well-researched biography? - Jmabel | Talk 04:09, 20 March 2006 (UTC)


While I agree with the author in their assessment of Parsons' legendary status, the article could be a bit more critical as regards his integrity. For example, the legend goes that Keith Richards dissauded Parsons from going to South Africa by telling him about Apartheid, rather than Gram making a conscientious decision himself. His fellow Flying Burrito Brother Chris Hillman goes as far to say in Fallen Angel that it was merely an excuse for Parsons to hang out with the Stones. Either acccount could be untrue but it would help a newcomer to "Cosmic American Music" understand Parsons in their own way, if both were considered alongside the article's version of events. Just a thought...


Gram Parsons may be the Patron Saint of Folk Rock and Country and Western, but as great as he was, I sometimes wonder if Parson's morphine overdose death wasn't the Fallen Angel's perverse way of ducking a legacy that would inspire so many country singers to fancy themselves rock stars and so many rock stars to fancy themselves country singers. Parsons was one of those rare creatures who is anything and everything all at once, a visionary with the magentic charmisa of a heartbreaking and the sense of artistic risk of a true genius. A romantic easy rider who comfortably wore his bible belt next to his gun holster, Parsons remains the spiritual heart and soul of folk-rock and country and western, two genres that, in the 1960s, were never supposed to collide. It took a talent as soul-stirring and brave as Parsons' to electrify the Newport Folk Festival with the Byrds in 1964, to storm the gates of the Grand 'ol Oprey in 1966, to turn the Rolling Stones into a blues band in 1968 and to pluck an angel-voiced waitress from obscurity to sing his Applachian gospel in 1970. Since his untimely death and gloriously insipiring funeral in Joshua Tree Desert, an entire cottage industry of Gram worship as mushroomed around him and Columbia Records recent reissue, Gram Parsons: Wasn't Born to Follow, cashes in on the man's unmatched legcacy and undeniable appeal. While most Gramophiles probably won't need to hear another alternate take of "Mr Tambourineman," the addition of some wildly inspiring outtakes will certainly be of interest. From the - mind-bending geography of 8 Miles High (aka The First Psychedelic Song Ever) to the pining nostaligia of Hickory Wind, Parsons had more musical range than the Smokey Mountains. But ragged demons lurk within even his most optimistic of songs, Turn! Turn! Turn!: Gram, it would seem, must have been born under a dark star. Heir to a Southern aristocracy, both of his parents committed suicide before he was 17, as did a number of other family members (both of his grandmothers shot themselves, while an aunt and an uncle hung themselves in a gruesome, duel suicide); his stepfather, a notoritously ruthless fortune-seeker, forciably adopted Gram in order to secure a piece of his inheritance before having Gram's beloved but vocal sister committed to a New Orleans mental hospital. It took Gram two years of legal battling to gain custody of her. However, the - music-making began when Parsons was a divinity student at Harvard, writing powerful, topical songs for a number of folk singers, including his future partner Mary Travers of Pete Paul and Mary. Parsons adopted Traver daughter, Polly, and today she is the posesser of his legacy. And most of that legacacy can be heard on WASN'T BORN TO FOLLOW, a collection that gracefully compiles Parsons's many styles, all immaculate, captivating and timeless. Though Gram Parsons died tragically young, his legend comtinues to shine brighter than his peers who have had the time, money and technology to make music. Genius is an elusive thing but the Fallen Angel had it in spades. Long may he ride.

-- Fascinating. Please continue to update your personal website about Gram Parsons with this kind of thing - not wikipedia.

Contradictory chronology[edit]

Born in 1946 he saw "…Elvis Presley perform in concert, in 1957. Five years later…" (that would make him about 16) "but while barely in his teens" (that would make him not about 16), "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. By the age of 16" (hmm. He's 16 again) :he graduated to folk music, and in 1963" (about 17) "teamed with his first professional outfit, the Shilohs." I'm guessing that the problem is with "five years later, but…", which seems to be a recent addition, but there are no cited sources. Can someone sort this out? - Jmabel | Talk 22:25, 15 July 2006 (UTC)

Another possible chronological discrepancy is where the article mentions Parsons was admitted to Harvard in 1969, but then discusses a bunch of other things he was involved in during the early 1960s when he was forming his music style. That Harvard date seems wrong. --Saukkomies talk 15:58, 2 April 2016 (UTC)

Good Article[edit]

This article may have been rejected for the featured article criteria, but I still think it's a good article. Everything is well arranged, at a reasonable length, and everything seems to be factual. I do think it's a good article and should be used as a template for other articles. —The preceding unsigned comment was added by Registered user 92 (talkcontribs) 17 July 2006.

The Journeymen?[edit]

This anonymous edit is uncited, lacks an edit summary, and while it is just possibly accurate, it could also well be wrong. I have no guess either way on the date, but early Gram Parsons certainly sounds like it was influenced by the Kingston Trio. I've never heard of The Journeymen. Who are they? Does someone have citation of them as an influence? - Jmabel | Talk 18:04, 23 July 2006 (UTC)

Never mind, found a citation myself with a Google search. But it mentions both. I'll restore the far better-known Kingston Trio. - Jmabel | Talk 18:05, 23 July 2006 (UTC)

GA Result[edit]

There are 7 things that must pass before an article reaches GA status. I have reviewed it and the result is as follows:

  1. Well-written: Pass
  2. Factually accurate: Pass
  3. Broad: Pass
  4. Neutrally written: Pass
  5. Stable: Pass
  6. Well-referenced: Pass
  7. Images: Pass

Well done, the GA has passed successfullyMinun Spiderman 19:40, 28 July 2006 (UTC)

I'm not sure how this can pass GA if such basic facts as his birth town are disputed, and the article makes no effort to either resolve the dispute (by citing the authorative source) or, if it is unresolved, make note of the dispute with proper sourcing. The discussion on top of this talk page is very insufficient in settling the dispute. The Byrds webpage still lists Waycross as his birth town, and it claims to cite from two reliable sources. ~ trialsanderrors 16:57, 17 August 2006 (UTC)

Gram Parsons Memorial Hand Traverse[edit]

link [2] duplicates Gram Parson's Gravesite link and does not show the concrete slab at Joshua Tree —The preceding unsigned comment was added by (talkcontribs) 1 August 2006.

I am guessing "hand traverse" is bogus entry - this article is only google hit —The preceding unsigned comment was added by (talk) 21:46, 12 February 2007 (UTC).

Departure from the Byrds[edit]

On this page it says that Parsons quit the Byrds in protest of apartheid, but the page on Sweetheart of the Rodeo says that he refused to play, stated that it was because of Apartheid, McGuinn and Hillman didn't believe that was why, and fired him, which is true? 75pickup (talk · contribs)

awkward line[edit]

It has been suggested that Parsons was mostly apolitical and merely took advantage of an opportunity to hang out with his idols, 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 and did not seem to exhibit racist tendencies. This sentence comes out of nowhere.

There's some references in this discussion page about Keith Richards discouraging Gram from going to South Africa. I think some genuine Gram Parsons fan has mad a real muddle out of the Rolling Stones/Who wrote Honky Tonk Woman/Gram Parsons as country rock icon/ meme (talk) 20:03, 19 March 2008 (UTC)

GA Re-Review and In-line citations[edit]

Members of the Wikipedia:WikiProject Good articles are in the process of doing a re-review of current Good Article listings to ensure compliance with the standards of the Good Article Criteria. (Discussion of the changes and re-review can be found here). A significant change to the GA criteria is the mandatory use of some sort of in-line citation (In accordance to WP:CITE) to be used in order for an article to pass the verification and reference criteria. Currently this article does not include in-line citations. It is recommended that the article's editors take a look at the inclusion of in-line citations as well as how the article stacks up against the rest of the Good Article criteria. GA reviewers will give you at least a week's time from the date of this notice to work on the in-line citations before doing a full re-review and deciding if the article still merits being considered a Good Article or would need to be de-listed. If you have any questions, please don't hesitate to contact us on the Good Article project talk page or you may contact me personally. On behalf of the Good Articles Project, I want to thank you for all the time and effort that you have put into working on this article and improving the overall quality of the Wikipedia project. Agne 02:32, 26 September 2006 (UTC)

Delisted GA[edit]

As per the Good Article review opened on this article by, well, myself, this article has been delisted, primarily because it does not comply with WP:LEAD and due to a low amount of references. However, I gotta tell ya, only two people (myself and one other) commented about this, so feel free to open another review if you want. Dispute archived here: Wikipedia:Good articles/Disputes/Archive 6 Homestarmy 17:43, 28 September 2006 (UTC)

Reference suggestion[edit]

Here's a link to a review of Ben Fong Torres' book that disputes/clarifies a few facts: [1] Full disclosure: I am an editor at Crawdaddy!, and we recently republished this particular item. Best, Asst. Editor, Crawdaddy! FenderRhodesScholar | Talk 18:03, 4 June 2008 (UTC)

Your web site seems to be broken at the moment:
System.Exception: Error: The current user does not have permission to carry out this request at Ektron.Cms.EkException.ThrowException(Exception ex, EventLogEntryType EventType) at Ektron.Cms.EkException.ThrowException(Exception ex) at Ektron.Cms.Content.EkContent.GetContentById(Int32 Id, ContentResultType Type) at Ektron.Cms.API.Content.Content.GetContent(Int32 Id, ContentResultType Type) at ArticleWithComment.Page_Load(Object sender, EventArgs e)
Adam McMaster (talk) 07:52, 5 June 2008 (UTC)

Songs About Parsons[edit]

In the Legacy section, there is a reference to a song about Parsons by the Eagles, and then someone has recently added another in the last line that is not referenced. There have been *scores* of published songs written about Parsons. Perhaps only those published should be mentioned, if at all, and that they should be mentioned in the same paragraph, stand alone. A good source for a list of these songs could be found on the GPBB at; someone there can lead you in the right direction (they seem to keep track of them). Otherwise, I would delete just these two references. Atticweb (talk) 20:16, 26 November 2008 (UTC)Atticweb

I agree that there's no need to try and list songs about Parsons in the article. If there are any which are specifically notable (e.g. ones which reached a high position in a national music chart), then maybe those should be mentioned. Other than that, the subject of a song is best mentioned in the song's own article (and if the song isn't notable enough to have its own article, then it's not worth mentioning here). I've removed those two paragraphs from the article. Adam McMaster (talk) 18:02, 27 November 2008 (UTC)


Please explain how his birthplace and his origin are not the same. Thanks. --Leahtwosaints (talk) 00:42, 8 September 2009 (UTC)

Cosmic American Music[edit]

On the point of listing CMA in the infobox, I agree with Kohoutek on leaving it out. I will, however, point out that it is used as a genre separate from Parsons—see this Rhapsody page: "Cosmic American Music is a sonic amalgamation of twangy guitars borrowed from raw, pastoral Americana music and the smooth, solid drum and bass grooves of northern soul music." - I.M.S. (talk) 04:06, 24 March 2010 (UTC)

I've had to remove this from the infobox a couple of times so far. My problem with it is that it's not a generally recognised music genre, it's just something that GP came up with - a groovy and quotable phrase - and only he knew what it really meant. For example, Rhapsody may say that it's an amalgamation of "pastoral Americana music and the smooth, solid drum and bass grooves of northern soul music" but that's only a fraction of what Parsons' intended the phrase to mean. His Cosmic American Music was a hybrid of honky tonk country music (first and foremost), folk music, soul, rhythm and blues, rock ’n’ roll, gospel, and contemporary rock. This ambiguity is the problem that I have with listing CAM as a genre - it's too amorphous and diffuse to be regarded in the same way as clearly defined genres like country & western, country rock, folk rock, or psychedelic rock. However, I would say that we should probably add Rock to the infobox genre field, since a number of Parsons’ songs ("One Day Week", "Lazy Days", "Ooh Las Vegas") clearly fall into that genre. --Kohoutek1138 (talk) 07:27, 24 March 2010 (UTC)
I like the quotebox! It's great to add commentary from the man himself—it's unfortunate that so little survives. - I.M.S. (talk) 04:46, 27 March 2010 (UTC)

Place of Death?[edit]

Is it Yucca Valley or Joshua Tree? Those are two different towns. Submersible (talk) 22:23, 30 April 2010 (UTC)

I'm pretty sure it was Joshua Tree. - I.M.S. (talk) 22:31, 30 April 2010 (UTC)

Personal Life Info[edit]

Reading Bryan Veloso's blog re:LaurelCanyon, he did some extensive research re:Gram's personal life (including the family tree, and that Gram was related to Milton Hershey & Snively Family-citrus growers), and with this research there are things within the Wiki article that are questionable:

1. Bob Parsons adopted Gram and his sister Avis, going so far as to have their birth certificates reflect that he was their biological father.

2. That Gram's real father's death was an alleged suicide and officially listed as an 'accident'.

Opionions on this for further editing appreciated-D- —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 16:38, 5 April 2011 (UTC)

Have you got a link to this blog and this new information? I'm not sure that Bryan Veloso (who?) and his blog can be considered a reliable source though. Blogs in particular are generally considered to be unreliable self-published sources and therefore discouraged on Wikipedia. Veloso is going to have to have to have some serious credentials as a Gram Parsons expert for this new found information to supersede facts that are supported by inline references from renown authorities on the subject, such as David Meyer and Ben Fong-Torres. --Kohoutek1138 (talk) 23:18, 5 April 2011 (UTC)

Michelle Phillips[edit]

The article states "Parsons left on one of the final helicopters and attempted to pick up Michelle Phillips." Does this mean he attempted to pick up Michelle Phillips in a helicopter, or he attempted to Pick-up her in a "romantic" sense? Best Regards. DynamoDegsy (talk) 14:05, 6 November 2012 (UTC)

Jack Royerton?[edit]

Has Jack Royerton actually performed at Gramfest? As I mentioned on this thread at COIN, an anonymous IP has been steadily adding unsourced claims about someone named Jack Royerton to articles, and the IP geolocates to a college where there is someone named Jack Royerton on staff, so this is a possible conflict of interest, hoax, or perhaps both. LonelyBoy2012 (talk) 03:51, 27 December 2012 (UTC)


Hello. I am thinking about updating and expanding this article to get it up to Featured Article status by the 40th anniversary of his death, September 19, 2013. For a good example of what a singer's FA article should look like, see the Elvis Presley article. If anyone has suggestions to improve upon, please let me know here. Thanks, Lord Sjones23 (talk - contributions) 04:30, 12 July 2013 (UTC)