I was thinking today about my deceased pal, Gram Parsons. We became friends first at the Seattle Pop Festival in 1969, then got better acquainted when he played The Trolly Club and …sometime remind me to tell you the story…at Sky River Rock Festival II. Playing with him, of course, were the rest of the Flying Burrito Bros. including Sneaky Pete. Sad news:
"Sneaky" Pete Kleinow, a steel guitar prodigy
who rose to fame as one of the original members of the Flying Burrito
Brothers, has died. He was 72.
Kleinow, who also worked in film as an
award-winning animator and special effects artist, died Saturday at a
Petaluma convalescent home near the skilled nursing facility where he
had been living with Alzheimer’s disease since last year, his daughter
Anita Kleinow said.
During a musical career that spanned six
decades, Kleinow helped define the country-rock genre in the late 1960s
and 1970s by taking the instrument he had picked up as a teenager in
South Bend, Ind., to California.
His prowess with the pedal steel guitar
influenced a generation of rock-and-rollers, including the Eagles, the
Steve Miller Band and Poco.
Besides co-founding the Burrito Brothers with
the Byrds’ Chris Hillman and Gram Parsons in 1968, he enjoyed a steady
gig as a session musician, recording with such singer-songwriters as
John Lennon, Jackson Browne, Linda Ronstadt and Joni Mitchell and bands
as varied as the Bee Gees and Sly and the Family Stone.
Kleinow played and recorded regularly with
Burrito Deluxe, a band he founded in 2000 following the rebirth of
alt-country music and fronted until he was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s.
His last recording with the group is scheduled to be released next
month, said Brenda Cline, the band’s manager.
Kleinow also won acclaim as an animator, special
effects artist and director of commercials in television and film. His
credits ranged from the original Gumby series — he wrote and performed the theme music as well as designed cartoons — and the relaunched The Twilight Zone to the movies Under Siege,Fearless and The Empire Strikes Back. He won an Emmy award in 1983 for his work on the miniseries, The Winds of War.
Kleinow is survived by his wife of 54 years, Ernestine, his daughters Anita and Tammy, and three sons, Martin, Aaron and Cosmo.
Plans for a memorial service to be held in Joshua Tree later this month are pending.