When Gram Parsons died of booze and pills (natural causes said the coroner's finding) in 1973 his friend and road manager Phil Kaufman lived up to his end of a deal that they had made earlier. He stole Gram's body and burned it in the desert; at Joshua Tree, California. It was a moment typical of Gram's desire for the big moment, the flamboyant gesture that would set him apart from the rest.
There's a mystique that has built up around Gram Parson's since his too short life came to an end that has been fuelled mainly by the amazing body of work he left behind and the haunting sound of his voice that lives on even after he's been dead for more then thirty years. But who was this man who has inspired more posthumous tribute albums than people who achieved far more fame then he ever did, and is credited with being the influence behind the whole country-rock genre which birthed bands like The Eagles?
Gram Parsons Fallen Angel, a documentary film by Gandulf Henning attempts to answer the enigma of Graham Parsons by interviewing the famous, the family, and all of those who knew him during his brief, meteoric passing. Keith Richards, Emmylou Harris, Chris Hillman, and other musical luminaries talk freely and candidly about their times with Gram and his influence on them and their careers.
Going back into his childhood they attempt to find out the causes of his self-destructive behaviour. As Chris Hillman of the Byrds and latter The Flying Burrito Brothers said, "It was a classic Tennessee Williams play." Now Southern Gothic may be all right to watch on stage, but growing up in that atmosphere sounds like it wasn't the healthiest of upbringings.
His father shot himself when he was still young. His mother was an alcoholic who had been hospitalized for alcohol-related problems and died of mysterious circumstances. Her second husband whose name Gram would bear for the rest of his life, Bob Parsons, was known to have been in her room just prior to her death and had been sneaking her booze and pills up until she died. He latter married his adopted children's baby sitter.
The emerging picture of Gram from these early years up until the end of his one-year stint at Yale University was of the poor little rich boy who could have anything money could buy, but no love. When he became interested in music in high school his parents converted a room in the house into a music room for him to rehearse in. He obviously loved the music but he also saw it as a ticket to being famous.