The Sad Truth About Gram Parsons’ First Attempt To Go Solo

By 1970, Gram Parsons figured it was about time for him to test the waters as a solo artist. As A&M Records apparently saw Parsons as a bad investment at the time, Terry Melcher promised the label’s executives that he could make Parsons worth their while, given how he was the “white country [Jimi] Hendrix,” as quoted by veteran BBC radio presenter Spencer Leigh on his website. The son of the legendary Doris Day, Melcher was an accomplished musician and producer who had previously worked with acts such as the Beach Boys and the Byrds, among many others (via True to form, he booked some top-notch talents to work on Parsons’ solo debut album, including keyboardist Spooner Oldham and guitarists Ry Cooder and Clarence White. The latter was an interesting choice, as White ironically replaced Parsons in the Byrds in 1968.

Supposedly, the plan was to create an album that paid tribute to Parsons’ favorite country artists, as he recorded cover versions of George Jones’ “She Thinks I Still Care” and Patsy Cline’s “I Fall to Pieces,” as well as Roy Orbison’s “Dream Baby.” However, Leigh pointed out that the musician also worked on some original material during the recording sessions with Melcher.

Considering how Gram Parsons and Terry Melcher were both doing a lot of drinking and drugging at that time, it was inevitable that things would soon go off the rails.

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