Gene Parsons

Best known as the drummer during the Byrds' groundbreaking country-rock period, Gene Parsons later cut a few solo records that underlined his position as a country-rock pioneer. Parsons was born in Los Angeles on September 4, 1944, and grew up mostly in the Mojave Desert. He played bass and drums in the Castaways starting in 1963, and he and bandmate Gib Gilbeau subsequently teamed up as Cajun Gib & Gene, recording for several small labels. In 1968, they signed on with Nashville West, which featured inventive guitarist Clarence White, and played on the group's self-titled debut. Later that year, both Parsons and White joined the Byrds, debuting on Dr. Byrds & Mr. Hyde. Parsons stuck around until 1972, with high points including the albums The Ballad of Easy Rider and Untitled, and then left for a solo career. His debut album, Kindling, was released in 1973 on Warner Brothers and featured appearances by White, Ralph Stanley, and Vassar Clements, among others. The same year, Parsons reunited with Gilbeau and backed Arlo Guthrie and Elliott Murphy in the studio. In 1974, Parsons took a break from his solo career to join another groundbreaking country-rock group, the Flying Burrito Brothers; he appeared on 1975's Flying Again and 1976's Airborne before a wrist injury forced him to take several years off of music. In 1980, he joined the Sierra label as both an artist and A&R executive and issued the album Melodies in early 1980; he subsequently performed with the Gene Parsons Trio, which also included bassist Peter Oliba and drummer Richie Rosenbaum. In 1985, he formed a performing partnership with singer/guitarist Meridian Green, the daughter of folksinger Bob Gibson. The two married in 1986 and formed an official band dubbed Parsons Green in 1991. Their Sierra debut, Birds of a Feather, was released in 1992. A couple of live albums were released on Parsons' own StringBender label in 2001.
Steve Huey, Rovi

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