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By 1977, California country-rock forefathers The Flying Burrito Brothers had endured a nearly insurmountable number of pitfalls in their quickly earned but never-fully-realized success. For one, “Cosmic American Music” mastermind Gram Parsons was fired shortly after the release of the band’s debut album, The Gilded Palace of Sin, in 1969—only a year after he’d been fired by The Byrds. The FBB then saw countless lineup changes, including the addition of singer-songwriter Rick Roberts, future Eagle guitarist Bernie Leadon, and an original member of The Byrds, drummer Michael Clarke. The lineup fronted by Chris Hillman and Leadon would release two more studio albums in 1970 and 1971, followed by a live album in 1972, but by this point, the FBB was running on fumes.
In 1973, after the tragic overdose death of the 26-year-old Parsons, interest in the Flying Burrito Brothers was sparked once again and talks of a revival took shape. Original members Sneaky Pete Klienow and Chris Etheridge (among others) returned, but they couldn’t find lineup stability. Members were swapped in and out constantly—the group even released an album under a different name, Sierra—including the addition (and later removal) of former Canned Heat guitarist Joel Scott Hill. By the time of this performance in February 1977, the FBB were composed of bassist Thad Maxwell, fiddler Gib Guilbeau and drummer Mickey McGee of Swampwater, and lead guitarist Bobby Cochran, who had been working in a later incarnation of Steppenwolf.
Though it couldn’t compete with the novelty and influence of the original group, this short-lived lineup had plenty to offer. One of the earliest gigs to feature these particular musicians, this recording from Feb. 21, 1977, captures the FBB at another pivotal moment, continuing the legacy of one of the most innovative bands in rock music. Listen to The Flying Burrito Brothers’ take on folk classic “Orange Blossom Special,” which showcases Gib Guilbeau’s mastery of the fiddle in a high-energy performance.