Gram Parsons, an influential country rock musician, was famous for his unique sound and songwriting. He is often credited for helping to define the genre. However, his legacy was almost cut short after his 1973 death at age 26 due to a drug and alcohol overdose. Gram Parsons Botched Cremation!
Parsons’ death left his fans in shock and confusion, but it was further compounded by the events that followed. His manager Phil Kaufman had planned to cremate him with military honors in Joshua Tree National Park per their agreement prior to Parson’s passing. Unfortunately, Kaufman was arrested upon arriving at the park with Pencey’s body, due to California laws prohibiting cremation on public land. With no other options available, he then decided to take matters into his own hands and attempted an unattended cremation of Parson’s body at a remote desert spot near Cap Rock.
Kaufman attempted to burn Parson’s body with gasoline but was unsuccessful since the casket wouldn’t burn due to its steel lining. To make matters worse, he was again confronted by police officers who noticed the smoke from the fire. In an effort to avoid arrest again, Kaufman scattered Parson’s remains across the desert area before fleeing the scene as fast as he could; leaving only bits of bone fragments behind in what became known as one of rock music’s most bizarre tales – Gram Parsons’ botched cremation.
Despite this strange ending for one of music’s greatest pioneers, Parsons’ influence continues today through all new genres of music – including alternative country and Americana – which are traceable back to his seminal work throughout the 1960s and 70s. His musical contributions have been recognized by some of today’s biggest stars such as The Rolling Stones frontman Mick Jagger who called Parsons “the father of modern country rock” and The Eagles co-founder Don Henley who referred to him simply as “The King.” It goes without saying that although gone too soon, Gram Parsona will forever be remembered as a true pioneer in music whose impact on the industry is still felt forty-seven years later.