at the Joshua Tree Inn in the Village of Joshua Tree (outside the park)
Gram Parsons (photo Wikipedia)
Well, let me tell you...
On September 19, 1973
In room #8
At the Joshua Tree Inn
In Joshua Tree Village
Gram Parsons overdosed
On morphine and alcohol
He was 26 years old
His friend, Phil Kaufman
Ditched his drug stash in the desert
And later with a friend
Stole his body from
They took it back to Joshua Tree
To Cap Rock
That's where they cremated him
Tried to cremate him anyway
A match thrown
On five gallons of gasoline
Dumped in a coffin
Didn't do much cremating
It did however
Create a fireball big enough
To Light up the desert night
At Cap Rock
Rolling Stone magazine rated Gram Parsons #87 on their "100 Greatest Artists of All Time." That probably makes him the most famous musician you've never heard of. He is one of the people most responsible for blending rock and country music. This music is known today as "Country Rock." Although he played in several bands, the two you may know best are the Byrds (replacing David Crosby) and The Flying Burrito Brothers. Keith Richards of the Rolling Stones was one of Parsons closest friends. I'm sure there was some influences (good and bad) flying back and forth in that friendship. Parsons was the creative force behind the Rolling Stones huge hit "Wild Horses."
He was clearly the driving force behind the Byrd's 1968 meg-hit album "Sweethearts of the Rodeo." This was the first mainstream country rock album and is still considered one of the most influential and best albums of all time.
Parsons wanted to visit his favorite spot in the world, Joshua Tree Monument (not a national park yet) before going on tour. He checked into the Joshua Tree Inn, but never checked out.
Other than stealing Gram Parson's corpse, this guy is most known for producing Charles Manson's "LIE" record album from prison. He also lived with the Manson family and was later quoted as saying that he "had sex with more serial killers than anyone else in show business." I'm not sure if that is true or not, but either way it's just plain old creepy. Kaufman also said they stole Gram Parson's body because he wanted to be cremated and have his ashes spread at Cap Rock, in Joshua Tree. Despite this request, Parson's brother was going to have the body buried back east.
Joshua Tree is said to be one of the earth's power spots. Indians thought so in antiquity and still do today. If you ever go there, get to a silent spot, clear your mind and open your senses. You just might feel it. I certainly do. Many artists and musicians (many famous) live, have lived, or frequent the area on a regular basis because of the creative "force" they feel there.
Although the Cap Rock trail might be the shortest and easiest in the area, it is very beautiful and anyone passing through the area, should stop there and walk it. Every year, on Gram Parson's birthday, people flock to Cap Rock and create a memorial there. Every year the park rangers have to clean it all up afterwards.
Here are some more photos from Cap Rock.
Cap Rock is also popular for climbing (or in this case bouldering)
Part of the VERY easy, but awesome walking trail (notice I said walk and not hike)
A different view of the "cap." Hey isn't that a giant rock bicycle seat next to it?
4247 feet above sea level and it is PURE desert