Saturday, February 28, 2015

Gram Parsons -

On a dark desert highway is the Joshua Tree Inn, located just a few miles from the hauntingly beautiful Joshua Tree National Park, where twisting, knotty Joshua Trees dramatically reach toward the heavens. U2 found something special out there, but years earlier, so did Gram Parsons. The influential Byrd, Flying Burrito Brother and "Grievous Angel" used to escape here with his musical soul mate, Keith Richards, in the late 1960s. They'd stay in this circa 1950 inn, which features a horseshoe of 12 rooms facing a desert courtyard and huge swimming pool. They'd climb the nearby craggy rocks at Joshua Tree, hypnotized by the black, star-splashed skies, while dropping acid and watching for UFOs. In 1973, Gram Parsons died in room 8 at the Joshua Tree Inn after consuming a lethal mix of tequila and morphine. It was a chaotic scene that ended with a pair of groupies trying to save him, but failing. Reading the bedside journal where travelers record their thoughts, it's clear the soft–spoken musician touched many. 


61259 Twenty Nine Palms Hwy., Joshua Tree, CA
Safe at Home
Parsons' songs feature mournful, ethereal melodies that sorely fit the mood within room No. 8. Many have reported odd goings-on, as if Gram were still there; in particular, a table lamp that blinks on and off and on again. Parsons admitted how much he liked getting high in the desert, the solitude, the mystery of it, the spirituality. Looking for a place to unwind after recording his second album, the now classic Grievous Angel, what followed is certainly among the oddest in Rock 'n Roll lore: Parsons succumbed to an overdose of booze and copious amounts opiates (not the odd part), after which his body was “lost” at the airport en route to Louisiana. Parson's body wasn't lost. It was stolen by friend and producer Phil Kaufman, who wanted to carry out a pact they'd made that if something should happen to either of them, the other would cremate the body at Cap Rock in Joshua Tree. According to Rolling Stone, "Kaufman torched the coffin with a couple of gallons of gasoline, was chased (but not caught) by the cops and eventually fined only $750 for the ordeal." Flocks of fans visit Cap Rock every year to pay tribute to the fromer Byrd - and to theorize what they beleive actually happened back on September 19th over 40 years ago.

Joshua Tree National is a barren and beautiful landscape with fauna indigenous only to the Mojave Desert. Here you'll find Peachthorn, Mormon Tea, Juniper, the Mojave Yucca and the Joshua. In the shadow of Cap Rock is a shrine of the faithful with flowers and inscriptions, a cross made of stones and a marker that reads, "Gram, Safe at Home."



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