Interview with The Burrito Brothers
Sofa King Cool caught up with the Burrito Brothers and we discussed the new album, The Notorious Burrito Brothers, The line up changes through out the bands 40 plus year career, the variations on the bands name, signing with a new record label, not being able to tour due to the coronavirus, social media and what is next for the band
Then and Now: TIMELINE
1967 – 68: Looking for more fun in their music, Barry Tashian & Billy Briggs from the Remains join with Ian Dunlop & Mickey Gauvin from The International Submarine Band to form a loose aggregation of musicians named (by Ian) ” The Flying Burrito Brothers “. They play gigs in honky-tonks around LA. Other musicians sit in with the band including John Nuese, Gram Parsons, Jon Corneal, Bobby Keyes, Leon Russell, Delaney Bramlett, Junior Markham, Jesse Ed Davis and Jimmy Karstein.
1969: Gram Parsons and Chris Hillman make an LP for A&M Records, “The Gilded Palace of Sin”, with Chris Ethridge, Sneaky Pete Kleinow and Jon Corneal. Gram took Ian’s band moniker, The Flying Burrito Bros., resulting in two bands with the same name; Gram’s in LA and Tashian’s & Dunlop’s, who had moved to the east coast. The LP is an all-time classic including “Sin City”, “Wheels” and “Devil In Disguise”.
1970: Post-Altamont era, craziness rules. Parsons hangs out with Keith Richards. The band is already splintering. With Ethridge out, Michael Clarke and Bernie Leadon come in. They make a 2nd album for A&M, “Burrito Deluxe”. It features their classic “Wild Horses” (released before the Rolling Stones version).
1971: Exit Gram Parsons. Chris Hillman assumes control. Enter Rick Roberts. The band carries on, rejuvenated, with a 3rd A&M long player. Reviews are good. “White Line Fever” and “Colorado” are the hits.
1972: Leadon and Kleinow depart. Al Perkins and Kenny Wertz join Chris Hillman to record the bluegrass influenced “Last of the Red Hot Burritos”, their 4th album for A&M. Hillman is the only band member left from the 1st LP. He and Perkins move on to Steven Stills’ “Manassas”. Country Gazette finds it’s beginning here. Sales are up from previous albums.
1973: Rick Roberts is commissioned to lead The Burrito Brothers for a Scandinavian tour. He recruits Country Gazette (Byron Berline, Kenny Wertz, Roger Bush and Alan Munde) along with pedal steel player Don Beck (from Dillard & Clark) and drummer Eric Dalton. A live album is released.
1974: A&M Records releases, in the wake of Gram Parsons’ death, a 2LP set, “Close Up The Honky-Tonks”, comprised of out-takes and tracks from the first 2 LPs. It sells more than any previous Burritos’ release.
1975: With newly heightened public interest, a CBS record deal is offered to Sneaky Pete and Chris Ethridge. They recruit Gene Parsons, Gib Guilbeau and Joel Scott Hill and the group is “Flying Again”. The re-established band works regularly.
1976: A second CBS LP, “Airborne” is released with same lineup as before except former Byrd, Skip Battin replaced Chris Ethridge. The major label buzz is alive. They play festivals, concerts and radio.
1977: Gib Guilbeau and Sneaky Pete carry on with Mickey McGee, Thad Maxwell (who’d played with Gib in Swampwater) and Bobby Cochran. A deal with Mercury was signed with Felix Pappalardi producing. Though working live dates as The Flying Burrito Brothers, they called the group “Sierra” on the album.
1978: “Flying High” and “Burrito Country” albums released as The Flying Burrito Brothers, comprised of earlier Gib Guilbeau sessions with Clarence White, Gene Parsons, Red Rhodes, James Burton, Thad Maxwell, Stan Pratt, Wayne Moore and Jerry Scheff.
1979: Multi-instrumentalist/vocalist Greg Harris breathes new life into the Burritos. The “Live From Tokyo” album is released. The lineup is him with Kleinow, Guilbeau, Battin and Ed Ponder. “White Line Fever” dents the charts. Robb Strandlund and Bob Warford make guest appearances that year.
!980: Gib Guilbeau, Sneaky Pete Kleinow, John Beland, Thad Maxwell, Mickey McGee and sometimes Skip Battin.
1981: The group moves their base of operations to Nashville, Tennessee. They get a deal with Curb Records. The name is shortened to The Burrito Brothers. “Hearts On The Line” is released. Three singles from the LP are played on country radio; “She’s A Friend of a Friend”, “Too Much Honky-Tonkin” and “She Belongs To Everyone But Me”. The band is Guilbeau, Beland, Kleinow, Battin and Ron Krasinski.
1982: Gib Guilbeau and John Beland work with various Nashville musicians doing shows and televisions appearances. Players include, Sneaky Pete, Krasinski, Richard Bowden and Skip Edwards. A 2nd Curb LP, “Sunset Sundown” is released with just the two as The Burrito Brothers. Not listed as band members, Kleinow and Krasinski are on the sessions. Includes the country hit “I’m Drinking Canada Dry”.
1983: A finished studio album, “Taste Of The Country” was not released. However, white label promo copies exist. Produced by Randy Scruggs, the album included Earl Scruggs, Jody Maphis and Charlie McCoy.
1984: A new deal with MCA/Curb. The Burrito Brothers record a single for the label, with Brent Maher producing; John Fogerty’s ” Almost Saturday Night ” b/w ” Jukebox Kind Of Night “.
1985: Throughout this decade the Burrito Brothers tend to be the Nashville contingent of Guilbeau and Beland with various other backup players. Group performs on “Nashville Now”.
1986: The LA contingent comes back. Kleinow, Harris, Battin and Jim Goodall make two albums released in Europe; “Cabin Fever” and “Live In Amsterdam”. The Nashville 2-man Burritos played “The 1986 Nashville Tribute to Gram Parsons” with Argyle Bell, Chris P and Fred James in the band.
1987: Ian Dunlop and Jon Corneal resurrect The International Submarine Band with Fred James, Jody Maphis, Ben Keith and Chris P James on the “Back At Home” CD.
1988: The double album of demos, “Back To The Sweethearts Of The Rodeo” was released in Holland.
1989: Numerous dates, including European tour, were played by Guilbeau, Kleinow, Beland, Larry Patton, Gary Kubal and Rick Lonow. George Grantham played drums on some dates. Chris Ethridge was back sometimes as well. The “Wheels” album, recorded at Argyle Bell’s 1988 Nashville Tribute To Gram Parson, was released (including Chris P. James).
1990: “Southern Tracks” album released. Band is: Kleinow, Guilbeau, Beland, Lonow, Patton and newcomer, Ronnie Guilbeau (Gib’s son). Recorded at Muscle Shoals, Nashville and on tour.
1991: Gib Guilbeau reduces his involvement. Beland recruits keyboard playing pop-rock singer-songwriter Brian Cadd from “down under”. Sneaky Pete and Beland had both played on Cadd’s Australian releases.
1992: Guilbeau, Beland, Cadd, Kubal and Larry Gadler (bass).
1993 – 94: “Eye of the Hurricane” CD released. Personnel: Gib Guilbeau, John Beland and Brian Cadd, with Pete Kleinow and Chris Ethridge. Ronnie Tutt is the session drummer. This Nashville contingent played some radio and TV appearances, including “Music City Tonight”. Meanwhile Sneaky Pete, Greg Harris, Jim Goodall and David Vaught play gigs as The Flying Burrito Brothers in California.
1995: The Burrito Brothers, Sneaky Pete, Guilbeau, Bobby Cochran, Charlie Harwood record at Criterion Studios featuring songs written and sung by Phil Lee.
1996: Gary Talley (Boxtops), Al Perkins, Gary Kubal, Beland, Cadd and Chris P James record an album with German artists, Carry & Ron.
1997: Perkins, Beland, Kubal and Patton record “California Jukebox” in Hendersonville, TN. Guest singers: Waylon Jennings, Buck Owens, Charlie Louvin and Joel Sonnier.
1998-99: Barry Tashian, Al Perkins, John Nuese, Rick Lonow, James Burton, Glen D. Hardin, Ronnie Tutt, Jerry Scheff, Jim Lauderdale, Boomer Castleman, Chris P James, Eddie Cunningham, Bob Hatter, Marty Stuart participate in CD project, “The Gram Parsons Notebook”. Also “Sons of the Golden West” CD released. Band was Beland, Patton, Kubal & Bridge. Guests were Earl P. Ball, Merle Haggard, Alison Krauss, Ricky Skaggs, Sam Bush, The Oak Ridge Boys, Delbert McClinton, Jamie Whiting, Dave Roe.
2000 – 01: Chris P James, Boomer Castleman, Rick Lonow and Bob Hatter tour and record “Mr. Hyde” (Taxim Records). Guests include Tony Paoletta, Al Perkins, Ron Guilbeau, Scott Baggett, Randall Harris, Denny Bruce, Harvey Kubernik, Mike Ward.
2002: Carlton Moody recruits Sneaky Pete, Bobby Cochran, Rick Lonow, Garth Hudson, Jeff “Stick” Davis and Tommy Spurlock to record as Burrito Deluxe. “Georgia Peach” CD released.
2003: Garth Hudson joins Burrito Deluxe with Kleinow, Moody, Lonow and Dave Rowe. During this decade Walter Egan’s “Walternative” band is Chris P James (keys/vocals), Ed Cain or John Terrence (bass/vocals) and Ron Krasinski, Rick Lonow or Peter Young (drums/vocals).
2004: “The Whole Enchilada” by Burrito Deluxe released.
2005: Walter Egan, Supe Granda and Richard Bell join Burrito Deluxe. Garth Hudson leaves.
2006-09: Moody, Egan, Granda, Lonow and Bell. Sneaky diagnosed with Alzheimer’s and Tony Paoletta fills in. Al Perkins, Brian Owings, Ed Cain, Marty Grebb and Chris P James work with the group.
2010-11: Walter Egan, Chris P James, Fred James and Rick Lonow. The Burritos album, “Sound As Ever” is released on SPV Records in England. Michael Curtis was briefly in the group.
2012: Rusty Russell joins on bass. Band works live dates.
2013: James, James, Lonow and Russell are joined by Tony Paoletta on pedal steel.
2014-16: James, James, Paoletta, Jody Maphis and Peter Young are the working band on live dates. Ronnie Guilbeau and Walter Egan are occasional guests.
2017: Nashville session guitarist, Bob Hatter joins the group after Fred James departs. Hatter has previous history with Chris James in Mr. Hyde (with Boomer Castleman) and The Lost Sideshow (with Rick Lonow and Michael Webb). Bob logged in endless hours with Tony Paoletta and Peter Young (also regular session men). These Burritos work on new material for their next album.
2018: The Burrito Brothers complete the “Still Going Strong” album. They play scattered dates, spending most of the year recording the album at Junction Studio in Madison, TN. Lineup: James, Paoletta, Hatter, John Sturdivant Jr, Larry Marrs, Coley Hinson.
2019: The group is Chris P James, Tony Paoletta, Bob Hatter and Peter Young returns.
To commemorate the 50th anniversary of “The Gilded Palace of Sin”, The Burritos headline Will James’ 12th annual Nashville Tribute to Gram Parsons playing the classic LP in its entirety. Guests include: Ronnie Guilbeau, Walter Egan, Michael Curtis, Noah Bellamy, Larry Patton, Pamela Des Barres. The band writes, demos and records material for their next album. It is finished before the year ends. Their representative in England, Bob Boiling, gets them a deal with SFM Records.
2020: “The Notorious Burrito Brothers” is released on 6 March 2020 on CD through ‘Store For Music’ [Cat No SFMCD543] in Britain. The group continues as Chris P James, Tony Paoletta, Bob Hatter and Peter Young. Ronnie Guilbeau guests.