Why Isn’t Gram Parsons in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame?

We’ve met too many people who have never heard of Gram Parsons. That alone is an injustice. Why he isn’t in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame also leaves us scratching our heads.

What we call alt-country can be traced back to what Gram Parsons called “Cosmic American Music”, a blend of the rock and country genres that made them nearly indistinguishable from each other. Though his career and his life were short – he died at age 26, and is therefore never mentioned as a member of the Forever 27 Club – there is no denying his influence.

Gram Parsons

After a stint with The International Submarine Band, which he formed while attending Harvard, he joined The Byrds as a keyboard player in 1968 at the age of 22. But his talents on the guitar and as a vocalist were too strong, and he was soon able to convince the other members of The Byrds to record their next record, Sweetheart of the Rodeo, in Nashville, and focus the project on a more country sound.

Parsons and Byrds bass player, Chris Hillman would team up a year later to form The Flying Burrito Brothers, a band we consider to be the best to go unrecognized by the masses. Simply put, their music was fun and accessible. Click the link below to listen to Older Guys and tell me I’m wrong:

Beyond country music, Gram Parsons had an influence on the Rolling Stones through his friendship with Keith Richards. Together they composed the melody and penned a few key phrases of the song Wild Horses on the Stone’s album Sticky Fingers. Here’s a link to a video of Keith talking about his friendship with Gram:

Keith mentions the obvious: few people know of Gram Parsons because he never had a hit record. This is decidedly true; his two solo albums, GP and Grievous Angel, were critically acclaimed, but charted no higher than 195 on Billboard. But they helped launch the career of country music legend Emmylou Harris who sang back up vocals on both records. These records are worth finding and we highly recommend you add them to your collection.

GP

Grievous Angel

Now we’ve done our research and we know there’s no way of changing the closed-door process behind who gets voted in to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and who doesn’t. And some might ask why a musician so closely associated with the country music genre would be included with the likes of Chuck Berry, Elvis Presley, and the Beatles. Well, Johnny Cash is in (country), so is Pete Seeger (folk), and so is Run D.M.C. (rap). Would you like to join us in our head scratching now?

We’ll leave you with this fantastic song, Return of the Grievous Angel:

Oh, There’s Just One More Thing …

We were featured in Tuesday’s Montreal Gazette! Click here to read the article on the Gazette’s website. We’d like to thank Bernie Perusse for taking the time to get to know us (next time, Bernie, we want you to drink with us). Thank you ALSO to John Kenney for being so accomodating and snapping some great photos in a very confined space. And thank you once again and always to R.D. Harris for being so gracious in letting us use the confined space known as his basement, not only for the photo shoot, but for two and a half wonderful years of making music. Long live Feathered Serpent Sound.

The Gazette sent an additional photographer to film us rehearsing a new song, Those Who Can’t Be Saved. That video can also be seen on their music page, click here.

We will be debuting the new song at our next show on Saturday February 18th in Montreal at O Patro Vys. Click here to RSVP.

Have a great week everybody!

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11 thoughts on “Why Isn’t Gram Parsons in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame?

  1. Hello blogger, i must say you have high quality articles here.
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  2. Yeah, you’re right! Gram was outstanding! I live in Brazil but have followed his short-lived but far out career since the very beginning (when he was in the ISB) when I lived in California. Like you, I scratch my head too!!!!

  3. Gram Parsons changed my perspective when I was 17…and I got to see him live with The Flying Burrito Brothers opening for Jerry Lee Lewis and the Doors. It was hip to love Gram and his music growing up in LA. And we still love him to this day.

  4. Not only Johnny Cash but Bob Wills and Bill Monroe are in the R&R HOF as being influences on R&R. Gram should, too. Gram’s also not in the Country Music HOF and probably won’t be until all the narrow minded Ralph Emery-types are dead and buried.

  5. Gram Parsons left class without a hallway pass. He got caught. Since then the faculty and student body haven’t found the heart to forgive him. I bet he wouldn’t give a shit.

  6. Let me tell ya’, the fact that Gram Parsons is not included in the rock & roll h.o.f. has got me scratching more than just my head… his catalog of music, although none too extensive, is essential listening for all lovers of american song. GP says it best, “Won’t you scratch my itch, sweet Annie Rich, and welcome me back to town…”

    • Hi Albert, thanks for taking the time to comment on our blog. Essential listening is right. We’ve been a fan of GP’s for many years, and we think his influence is evident in our music. Stay well! -the Jimmyriggers

  7. Thanks for this superb acknowledgement Gram’s pioneering work. Granted, he should be in the country hall of fame, but there’s no reason he shouldn’t be in the rock hall, as well.

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