Tuesday, August 18, 2009


On February 15, 1968, they played at the Grand Ole Opry in Nashville, the first group of longhairs ever to do so, and immediately started recording their next album in a wholly Country style, with Parsons choosing and singing many of the songs. However, on July 29, Parsons quit the band just before they flew to South Africa because he refused to play to segregated audiences. At the same time, Sweetheart of the Rodeo was released, most of Parsons' vocals being replaced by either McGuinn or Hillman due to legal problems with Parsons' previous record company. The album was commercially unsuccessful on its release (US # 77), but contains the yearning Parsons song which has become a standard, "Hickory Wind", as well as a couple of Dylan tunes from his then-unreleased Basement Tapes collection, and more traditional songs from such unlikely sources as The Louvin Brothers ("The Christian Life"). It is the first country-rock album to be released by an established rock band, coming six months before Bob Dylan's "Nashville Skyline". (The first country rock album was arguably released by Gram's International Submarine Band on the indie record label that later created legal problems for Gram with the Byrds.)


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