RIP, Chris Ethridge, Flying Burrito Brothers bassist

If there's a Country-Rock Heaven, well you know they've got a hell of a rhythm section. Not quite the lyrics we remember the Righteous Brothers singing, but the way the last few days have panned out, it seems apt.

Thursday, we reported the news that Levon Helm, multi-instrumentalist and drummer for The Band, had lost his lengthy battle with cancer, and today Chris Ethridge, bassist for seminal country-rock acts International Submarine Band and The Flying Burrito Brothers, has reportedly passed away.

A cause of death has not yet been released, but Booker T. Jones tweeted this on Friday: Just talked to Chris Ethridge, (Burritos, Willie Nelson), hospitalized in Meridian, MS - send love and hope - doctors say he will pass soon. Several friends and fans, including Willie Nelson and the site maintained by the estate of Gram Parsons, have reported that Ethridge has passed.

The Flying Burrito Brothers - "Christine's Tune"

Born in 1947 in Meridian, Mississippi, Ethridge moved to California at the age of 17, and after playing briefly with Joel Scott Hill (later of Canned Heat), he joined up with Gram Parsons and the International Submarine Band, a group Parsons had formed with guitarist John Nuese while he was briefly a student at Harvard University. After moving to California, Parsons and Nuese had plans to disband, but record producer Suzi Jane Hokom convinced her then-boyfriend, Lee Hazlewood, to sign the act to his record company.

International Submarine Band - "A Satisfied Mind"

After recording their first single in July 1967 with Hokom producing, Chris Ethridge joined Parsons and Nuese in the studio to record what would become their only full-length release, Safe at Home. Parsons briefly left the International Submarine Band to join The Byrds, a decision that left Hazlewood feeling miffed; he took ownership of the band's name and attempted to keep Parsons' vocal tracks from appearing on the Sweetheart of the Rodeo album. The International Submarine Band's record was not released until after the group had once and for all broken up.

The Flying Burrito Brothers - "Hot Burrito #1"

Parsons was not long for The Byrds, and joined up with Ethridge once again in 1968 to found The Flying Burrito Brothers with Byrds member Chris Hillman and pedal steel guitarist "Sneaky" Pete Kleinow. Ethridge was with the band for the recording of their influential debut album The Gilded Palace of Sin, which was in 2003 ranked number 192 on Rolling Stone's list of the 500 greatest albums of all time. When Parsons left the Burritos, Ethridge toured with him once again. After Parsons' 1973 death of a drug overdose at the age of 26, Ethridge would later again perform with the Burritos as well as with the Docker Hill Boys, Judy Collins, Johnny Winter, Ry Cooder, Leon Russell, Randy Newman, Linda Ronstadt, The Byrds and Kudzu Kings, and also toured with Willie Nelson's Family band for almost eight years. Nelson tweeted this morning: WN&F are sad to hear of the passing of Family member & friend Chris Ethridge he was a talented musician & we were honored to call him Family.

The Flying Burrito Brothers - "We've Got to Get Ourselves Together"

Sponsor Content


All-access pass to the top stories, events and offers around town.

  • Top Stories


All-access pass to top stories, events and offers around town.

Sign Up >

No Thanks!

Remind Me Later >