Gram Parsons, a fallen angel
More than 32 years after his death, the legacy of Gram Parsons continues to fascinate -- and broaden with material. In starting its own label this month, Amoeba Music will sell previously unreleased tracks by the country-rock pioneer. And as part of the promotion for a new Parsons biography, L.A.'s Harmony Gallery is holding an exhibition of photographs, some famous and some rarely seen.
“Grievous Angel: An Intimate View of Gram Parsons” will display about 30 works, mostly of the late singer by the likes of rock photographer Jim McCrary, Parsons documentarian Tom Wilkes, entertainment photographer Kim Gottlieb-Walker and friend Andee Cohen Nathanson. They are rounded out by Jeaneen Lund’s photos of the desert and the Joshua Tree motel room in which Parsons died of a morphine-tequila overdose in 1973 at age 26.
“Most of the photos are of Gram and his friends, Emmylou Harris and his band mates in the Flying Burrito Brothers,” gallery director David Jones says. “One, by Andee, is just a close-up of his hands; everyone used to comment on how beautiful his hands were.”
The show’s signature photographs, which show Parsons in Nudie Western wear embellished with a marijuana leaf design, were taken by McCrary for publicity for the 1969 Flying Burrito Brothers album “The Gilded Palace of Sin.”
“It looks like a studio shoot, but actually we took it outdoors,” McCrary said. “I took 12 shots total. Four have disappeared. Of the eight left, one I don’t like, two are just OK, and five I love. So I created a six-shot panel of the best ones for the show.”
Most of the photographers plan to attend the opening on Friday night. In addition, Parsons’ daughter, Polly, and author Jessica Hundley will read from their book “Grievous Angel,” a biography-memoir published in November, along with musical accompaniment.
-- Scott Sandell
“Grievous Angel: An Intimate View of Gram Parsons,” Harmony Gallery, 5911 1/2 Franklin Ave., L.A. Opening night, 8 to 10 p.m. Friday. Regular hours: noon to 7 p.m. Tuesdays through Sundays. Ends Feb. 20. (323) 957-7965, www.counterpointrecordsandbooks.com