The Flying Burrito Brothers were the country-rock prototype, educating the masses with a marriage of mainstream rock and then-outdated country and western twang. While the band’s heyday was relatively short-lived, their influential style still echoes today.
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Their inventive and groundbreaking sound made them a unique group as did their one-of-a-kind band name that turns out wasn’t so … one-of-a-kind.
Behind the Name
The origins of The Flying Burrito Brothers take multiple twists and turns. It involves several different players, leftovers from various bands, and a name that, as it suggests, travels.
Originally, The Flying Burrito Brothers was the name given to a makeshift group of musicians—a rag-tag gathering of former members of various bands and various session musicians—who came together for occasional jam sessions. Often impromptu, they would play various Los Angeles-area clubs like the Palomino and the Whisky-a-Go-Go.
Barry Tashian and Billy Briggs of the rock band The Remains, along with Ian Dunlop and Mickey Gauvin of The International Submarine Band, were the first to form the recreational outfit, which they dubbed The Flying Burrito Brothers. An exercise in fun, the band had no real lineup as various other musicians began to sit in and just play from time to time.
Some standout members of the jam group were Byrds bandmates, Gram Parsons and Chris Hillman. Together, the pair were hellbent on forming their own country-rock outfit after officially parting ways with The Byrds. Parsons and Hillman eventually recruited multi-instrumentalist Chris Ethridge, session drummer “Fast” Eddie Hoh, and pedal steel guitarist “Sneaky” Pete Kleinow for their project, adopting the name The Flying Burrito Brothers after the group. Their debut album, The Gilded Palace of Sin, was released in 1969.
Some sources alluded to Parsons and Hillman appropriating the band name. However, one source suggests the name was given willingly, remarking that because “these guys were not looking for big success,” the founders of the original Flying Burrito Brothers moved to the East Coast in pursuit of the music they wanted to play, leaving the band name for the blossoming country-rock project.
The Burrito Flies Today
Since their brief days of glory, The Flying Burrito Brothers have seen several reunions and various incarnations all without founding members Parsons, who was fired from the band in 1970 and later died in 1973, and Hillman. The remaining members of the band have performed and released music as Burrito Deluxe, The Burrito Brothers, or simply The Burritos, proving that there is still power left in the secondhand name.
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