Chris Hillman

Along with frequent collaborator Gram Parsons, Chris Hillman was the key figure in the development of country-rock, virtually defining the genre through his seminal work with the Byrds and the Flying Burrito Brothers. Hillman was born on December 4, 1944, in Los Angeles, where he grew up listening to Spade Cooley and Cliffie Stone and taught himself to play guitar. In 1961, he and a pair of high-school friends formed the Scottsville Squirrel Barkers and cut an album; a year later, he joined the Golden Gate Boys, a bluegrass band featuring Vern Gosdin. In honor of their new vocalist's prowess on the mandolin, the group renamed itself the Hillmen; after recording a self-titled LP with producer Jim Dickson, they broke up in 1963.