The Flying Burrito Brothers was an early country rock band founded in 1968, best known for its influential debut album, 1969's The Gilded Palace Of Sin. Although the group is most often mentioned in connection with country rock legends Gram Parsons and Chris Hillman (both former members of The Byrds), the group underwent many personnel changes.
The original group featured Parsons and Hillman as primary vocalists, guitarists and composers with Sneaky Pete Kleinow (pedal steel guitar), Chris Ethridge (bass) and a rotating series of drummers. Michael Clarke (also a former member of The Byrds) was eventually added as permanent drummer, while Ethridge was replaced by guitarist Bernie Leadon after Hillman switched to bass following the first album.
Following the second album Burrito Deluxe, Gram Parsons was succeeded as frontman by Rick Roberts for one studio album and a live album. The group then splintered; Chris Hillman and Al Perkins (Kleinow's replacement) joined Manassas, Bernie Leadon founded Eagles, and later additions Byron Berline, Roger Bush and Kenny Wertz formed Country Gazette. Following a 1973 European tour with new members, Rick Roberts dissolved the band and began a solo career, before forming Firefall with Michael Clarke.
After original members Kleinow and Ethridge reformed the band in the mid-1970s with new players (including more former members of The Byrds, Gene Parsons and Skip Battin), a more Nashville-centered incarnation of the band led by Gib Guilbeau and John Beland eventually emerged, recording & touring through the 1980s as Burrito Brothers.
Pete Kleinow began using the Flying Burritos Bros name again in the mid 1980s, eventually being joined by Gib and John. Through numerous incarnations (nearly all with Beland at the helm), the band released albums and toured throughout the 1980s and '90s. The latter day Flying Burrito Brothers CDs, produced by Beland, did feature an impressive line-up of guests, including Merle Haggard, Buck Owens, Waylon Jennings, Alison Krauss, Ricky Skaggs, Charles Louvin, and others. The band's final two CDs, California Jukebox and Sons Of The Golden West received solid critical reviews, but Beland called it quits for the band in 2000, finally ending the band. He embarked upon a successful career as a record producer, The trademark for Flying Burrito Brothers' name was acquired by Chris Hillman in the 2010s.
Kleinow's 2000s spin-off band Burrito Deluxe featured Carlton Moody (2) on lead vocals and Garth Hudson from The Band on keyboards. The band scored no chart success, relying solely on live appearances in Europe. Kleinow left the band due to illness in 2005, leaving no direct lineage to any of the actual Flying Burrito Brothers members, past or present, although the band carried on until 2010 when it became The Burritos, and then in 2014 The Burrito Brothers. A band calling itself The Burrito Brothers continues to tour and release music.
Key band members included: Gram Parsons, Chris Hillman, Sneaky Pete Kleinow, Chris Ethridge, Michael Clarke, Rick Roberts, and Bernie Leadon.