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Hickory Wind: The Life and Times of Gram Parsons
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Hickory Wind: The Life and Times of Gram Parsons

3.84  ·  Rating details ·  461 Ratings  ·  32 Reviews
Gram Parsons lived hard and died young, and left behind a musical legacy that has influenced generations of rock and country legends. Ben Fong-Torres's account of his story - from his poor-little-rich-kid childhood; through his seminal time with the Byrds and his own bands, the Flying Burrito Brothers and the Fallen Angels; to days and nights spent with the likes of Mick J ...more
Paperback, 244 pages
Published September 15th 1998 by Griffin (first published July 1st 1991)
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Paul Secor
Jun 03, 2017 rated it it was ok
More than I ever wanted to know about a minor musical figure who has attracted more attention over the years than his music ever warranted.
Jan 25, 2009 rated it really liked it
Well done, Ben Fong-Torres. Also, I really like saying "Ben Fong-Torres."
Aug 27, 2007 rated it liked it
Your enjoyment of the book will probably depend on whether or not you love Gram Parsons, as it's a pretty standard biography.
Heather Marie
Nov 15, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Fantastico. The only bio on GP you need to read. And don't call it heroin, it was morphine. (and don't argue with me about it.)
Mar 16, 2009 rated it it was ok
Boring book about a great musician.
Jamie Beckett
May 19, 2009 rated it it was ok
Gram Parsons was a talented musician who lived a dramatic but short life. His foibles were due perhaps to a highly dysfunctional family life that caused him to grow up with a peculiarly disjointed view of life. As a fan and a curious onlooker who lives and works close to Parsons' old stomping grounds, I selected this book in the hopes of separating legend from reality and gaining a better understanding of both as they pertain to one of the originators of the country/rock movement.

Ben Fong-Torre
David Ward
Hickory Wind: The Life and Times of Gram Parsons by Ben Fong-Torres (St. Martin's Griffin 1998) (780.92). Gram Parsons was only twenty-seven when he died of a heroin overdose. He was a rich kid and a trust-fund baby from (of all unlikely places) Waycross, Georgia on the edge of the Okefenokee Swamp. He took off for Los Angeles and for a time was a member of the Byrds and later the Flying Burrito Brothers. He was at the forefront of the country-rock movement. He will always be best remembered for ...more
Jun 10, 2012 rated it really liked it
the man who invented the cosmic cowboy. he has influenced so many musicians yet never lived to see it. only 26 when he passed in a drug adled haze. born rich so he had a carefree free spirited attitude from the get go. this book is a great account of his life it has new information that the book thousand roads did not. what a bizarre tale of how his manager Phil Kauffman took care to grant Gram his wishes when phil cremated his body in the joshua tree desert. truly a great rock n roll story unfo ...more
Michael Anderson
Oct 04, 2014 rated it liked it
I remember his name as one of many performers among the bands and albums I listened to back in the early 70s of my youth. I didn't know he died early, like three of his more famous contemporaries, but then, it happened in 1973 while I was sequestered in a 6-week Army training course. From this biography, I learned that I probably would not have liked the man personally, but I also learned that he could compose and sing, at times, wonderful songs, so I need to find some of his solo efforts. Overa ...more
Mar 20, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: biography, music
Great book about a much overlooked singer/song writer of the 60s and 70s. Gram Parsons died a month after I was born so I wasn't able to appreciate him when he was alive but I can appreciate his influence today. I enjoyed the book, I know there are some that say it doesn't tell the whole story, but then again what book does. It's a good starting point for reading about Gram Parsons life and times.
May 21, 2011 rated it really liked it
This was a quick and easy Gram Bio. After reading Twenty Thousand Roads: The ballad of Gram Parsons, I must say that Ben Fong-Torres was much easier on Gram than David N. Meyer was and this bio wasn't nearly as detailed at the the Meyer piece. I'm still left wishing I wouldn't have read either of them, though, because I think I like his music a lot better before I knew it was coming from a sort of lazy, spoiled brat.
Aug 21, 2008 rated it really liked it
Music, Drugs, women, poker, Keith Richards, a tragic and most unfortunate outcome. I love Gram Parsons music, and I love reading about the music industry before my time. The difference in how fast things happen, the marketing, the communication back in the day is very interesting. This author seems to drop off right at a climax at some points, but I just think it was due to a lack of information that he could come up with.
Jul 24, 2007 rated it really liked it
When I was a teenager I discovered Gram Parsons's amazing music. He was still alive then, and he performed on Providence TV 12 just before he died. I saw him, propped up there at the mike, wasted and perfect...

His songs move me in ways that few others are or were capable of.

Ben Fong-Torres does an admirable job telling the story of this rich country boy, the boy who gave the Byrds their American Soul, the boy who invented Cosmic American Music.
Bosco Farr
Sep 27, 2010 rated it liked it
An okay look into the life of Gram Parsons. It's a good start for the new fan but borders on textbook dry as often as not. I felt like I knew a little more than I did before reading but it's less insightful than the subject matter calls for. Certainly a passable read but not as strong as I would have liked.
Mar 20, 2010 rated it it was ok
Shelves: music
I'm not the biggest Gram Parson fan to start with, but I read this for my rock and roll book club. Not only was the subject not that interesting to me, but the prose style wasn't especially good either. It was interesting to gain some insight into Gram Parsons relationship with Emmy Lou Harris, but even that was mostly 2nd hand.
Aug 24, 2014 rated it liked it
Meh. Gram was a mess who sometimes wrote and sang beautiful songs.

Easy and fast read. Not very illuminating if you are an Emmylou Harris fan. She never revealed much about her personal relationship with Gram, and this doesn't reveal much about it either.

I suspect I'll learn more about Gram from Keith Richards' autobiography than I learned from this book.
Owen Goldin
May 10, 2013 rated it liked it
In the case of some musicians, knowing about their lives helps deepen appreciation of their achievement -- in the case of others it's pretty irrelevant. Gram is in the first group. Well done portrait of this sad cosmic country icon.
Jason Evans
Nov 13, 2007 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: fans of gram parsons
Shelves: biography
This man literally invented a new genre of music. His tales of drug abuse, frienship with Keith Richards and true knowledge of Southern music make this book an interest tale. Oh, yeah, also the burning of his body at Joshua Tree National Park, a must read story.
Mike Navalinski
Nov 18, 2012 rated it liked it
a very nice intro to a very sad character who....well I'll let the story tell itself. Certainly a major influence on country rock music, many good stories about Gram and his cast of characters he performed with through his short enigmatic career.....
Mar 13, 2012 rated it liked it
OK, but Sid Griffin's book on Gram was better. But this one got a lot more press. (Gee, wonder why?)
Rama Hodam
Jun 01, 2009 rated it it was amazing
If you want to know about Gram Parsons life, this is the book. I've read almost every printed word on him and this book stands up.
Timothy Limner
Apr 05, 2012 rated it really liked it
Great biography of a brilliant songwriter that seemed to run from success.
Aug 25, 2007 rated it really liked it
Shelves: music
Gram Parsons was a smart, weird dude.
I lurv Gram Parsons, and this bio by a former editor of Rolling Stone was quite enlightening.
Ken French
Oct 02, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: nonfiction
Very well-written and an interesting story, but I wound up liking Parsons less (as a person, not as a musician) by the time I finished.
Nathan Koci
Aug 26, 2015 rated it it was ok
great subject matter, terribly written, anecdotal, barely strung together book.
Rude E
Jan 03, 2008 rated it really liked it
many Gram books, yet this did not seem over done nor simple...a complex and gifted soul in love with music, and honesty...sometimes love does hurt.
Carlos Repuestodelatabla
Mar 13, 2012 rated it really liked it
A quick scan of Gram Parson's life that offers you what you need to know of one pf music's most influential figures without agenda attached.
Feb 09, 2008 rated it liked it
Recommends it for: Gram Parsons Fans
Life and times of Gram Parsons. Good not great.
rated it liked it
Sep 23, 2014
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Benjamin Fong-Torres (Fāng Zhènháo) is an American rock journalist, author, and broadcaster best known for his association with Rolling Stone magazine (through 1981) and the San Francisco Chronicle (from around 1982).

Due to the Chinese Exclusion Act, Fong-Torres' father, Ricardo Fong-Torres (born Fong Kwok Seung), changed his surname to Torres and posed as a Filipino citizen in order to emigrate t
More about Ben Fong-Torres

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