s “enormously influential” for country and rock, “blending the two genres to the point tGram Parsons was born Cecil Ingram Connors on November 5, 1946 in Winterhaven, Florida. His parents were Avis Snively Connors, (whose family made a fortune in the citrus business) and Cecil “Coon Dog” Connors, of Waycross, Georgia. Gram&##39;s father died on Christmas Day, 1959. Two years later his mother Avis married Robert Ellis Parsons of New Orleans, who formally adopted then 15 year old Gram and his younger sister Avis. Cecil Ingram Connor became Gram Parsons.
The long list of musicians Gram Parson influenced includes but is not limited to Elvis Costello, U2, Rodney Crowell, Dave Edmunds, The Jayhawks, Marty Stuart, Black Crowes, The Lemonheads, Nick Lowe, Uncle Tupelo, Son Volt, The Byrds,Tom Petty, The Eagles, The Rolling Stones and of course his long time partner, Emmylou Harris, who carried his musical vision to fruition and beyond.
The mythology of Gram Parsons’short life runs deep, but perhaps nothing is as enigmatic as the death of the 26-year-old king of Cosmic American Music, onetime Rolling Stones cohort and founding father of alt-country.
One day in 1973, Parsons headed to room Number Eight at the Joshua Tree Inn with a heavy stash of morphine and alcohol — he liked getting high in the desert, and was looking for a place to unwind after recording his second album, the now classic Grievous Angel. What followed is certainly filed under the best of rock & roll lore: He suffered a deadly overdose of, by most reports, a combination of booze and opiates, after which his body was lost at the airport en route to Louisiana. Though it was ultimately determined that the amount of drugs consumed would have been beyond what any human (or two) could survive, many Parsons fans insisted — and still do — that he had only taken a modest dose.
Of course, Parson’s body wasn’t lost. It was stolen from the Los Angeles Hospital by his friend and producer Phil Kaufman and Parson’s girlfriend and , who wanted to carry out a pact he’d made with the artist to cremate their remains out at Cap Rock in Joshua Tree. Kaufman torched the coffin with a couple of gallons of gasoline, was chased (but not caught) by the cops and eventually fined only $750 for the ordeal. Though Parsons’ remains were ultimately flown back to New Orleans, where, so the story goes, his greedy stepfather wanted him buried so he could inherit some of the artist’s bountiful estate. Still, flocks of fans visit Cap Rock every year to pay tribute — and to theorize as to what they think may have actually happened back on September 19th over 40 years ago.
Why Gram Parsons never achieved fame is a mystery. His songwriting, voice and his choice of musicians was a winning combination. Even in death, he was eclipsed by Jim Croce (of “Bad Bad Leroy Brown” fame), who died the day after Gram and received the media attention that still eluded Parsons.