Monday, October 17

Ask Jonathan Richman: Gram Parsons

Jonathan has been answering fan questions in the new Rough Trade magazine and here's a gem regarding Gram Parsons:

Hey Jonathan,

The whole crazy story about The Modern Lovers playing at a party to pay for the fine levied on Phil Kaufmann for burning Grams coffin (the only crime they could do him for). I'm sure there are lots of people who don't know about it, but how much is true and how much is myth?

Dave O’Grady


Dear Dave,

Yah, we played at it. When the Modern Lovers were with Warner Bros. Records, the company tried to help us find a manager which they said we needed. Of the ones presented, my vote was for Eddie Ticknor. He already managed Emmy Lou Harris and Gram Parsons. As road manager for both singers, Eddie used Phil Kaufman. Phil had a house in Van Nuys where everyone would hang out and eat chili, including us and especially me who loved to eat stuff and got along great with Eddie, Phil and Gram. I got to know Emmy Lou well enough that if we’re at some big festival together, I still go over and say hello and chat a bit. Gram stayed in this little guesthouse that Phil had out in the back. I’d go out there and me and Gram would play guitar and he’d sing me songs. If he’d lived another six months, he’d probably sung backup on our records or something.

Phil and I have stayed friends from those days ‘til this. I keep in touch and whenever me and Tommy my drummer are in Nashville we try and see Uncle Phil. And if he burns up any more dead guys we’re right there to play.

Oh, if you’ve also read a story about Gram supposedly stepping in to save the Modern Lovers from being harassed at a show by a gang of thugs who somehow were supposed to have gotten into our dressing room, that one didn’t even come close to happening. Total horseshit. That audience had no interest in advancing towards us. They couldn’t wait to be away from us!