Chris Ethridge, Founding Member of the Flying Burrito Brothers, Dies at Age 65

Mississippi Native Also Recorded and Toured Extensively With Willie Nelson

Bassist Chris Ethridge, a founding member of the Flying Burrito Brothers and a former member of Willie Nelson’s band, died Monday (April 23) in Meridian, Miss., of complications from pancreatic cancer. He was 65.

Born in Meridian, he moved to Los Angeles at age 17, where he met singer-songwriter Gram Parsons. The two formed a group, the International Submarine Band. Following Parsons stint in the Byrds during the band’s exploration of country music on the Sweetheart of the Rodeo album, Parsons and another Byrds member, singer-songwriter Chris Hillman, formed the Flying Burrito Brothers with Ethridge and steel guitarist Sneaky Pete Kleinow. The Burritos melded rock and country on songs such as “Hot Burrito #1,” “Hot Burrito #2” and “She,” co-written by Ethridge and Parsons.

Ethridge exited the Burrito Brothers after recording the band’s 1969 debut album, The Gilded Palace of Sin, and later worked as a studio and touring musician with Linda Ronstadt, Ry Cooder, David Crosby, Graham Nash, Randy Newman, Jackson Browne and others. Parsons died in 1973 and Kleinow in 2007.

In the late ’70s, Ethridge joined Nelson’s band, touring extensively for eight years and performing on several of his recordings, including his classic album Stardust in 1978.

Funeral services will be held Wednesday (April 25) in Meridian.