Chris Ethridge Tribute

Chris Ethridge Tribute
photo by Wynne Huddleston

Jacky Jack White hosted a tribute to local legend *Chris Ethridge at the Sucarnochee Review on July 2, 2010 in the historic Temple Theatre, Meridian, MS. Chris’ mother attended and Chris’ brothers, Tommy and Joey, also musicians, performed with their groups. I am so glad that this was done. We didn’t know he would soon be leaving us (for more info, see bottom of this post).

Spooner Oldham, my friend Linda Way, Chris Ethridge

Chris Ethridge (1947- 2012) native of Meridian, Mississippi, is an American country rock bass guitarist. He was a member of the International Submarine Band (ISB) and The Flying Burrito Brothers, and co-wrote several songs with Gram Parsons. Ethridge began playing in local bands in the South before moving to California at the age of 17, having been spotted in Biloxi. He played with Joel Scott Hill before joining Gram Parsons in ISB. He played with Parsons after the end of ISB, and again after Parsons left The Byrds, before cofounding the Burrito Brothers with him. He played bass and piano on The Gilded Palace of Sin, but left before Burrito Deluxe. When Parsons left the Burritos, Ethridge played with him again, touring with Byron Berline, Emmylou Harris, Clarence White, Gene Parsons, Sneaky Pete Kleinow, and Roland White. After Parsons’ death, Ethridge played in 1974 with the Docker Hill Boys, an informal group which included Gene Parsons and Joel Scott Hill. These three refounded the Burritos in 1975 with Sneaky Pete and Gib Guilbeau, recording Flying Again. Ethridge left the Burritos again in February 1976, returning to session work. He has been a session musician throughout his career, recording with many leading country-tinged acts, including Judy Collins, Johnny Winter, Ry Cooder, Leon Russell, Randy Newman, Linda Ronstadt, The Byrds and Jackson Browne. He also toured with Willie Nelson’s band for almost eight years, and later played with the Kudzu Kings. Chris also played the character of ‘Easter” in the 1980 movie “Honeysuckle Rose” starring Willie Nelson, Dyan Cannon, Amy Irving and Slim Pickens. [this info from Jim Myrick of WMOX radio station]

The songs performed at the tribute were those recorded by artists with whom Chris had played/recorded, and some were songs that he had written or co-written–songs like “Good time Charlie’s Got the Blues” and “On the Road Again” (Willie Nelson) which Chris played with Willie live at the Grammys, “Break my mind” (Flying Burrita Brothers) and “In My Hour of Darkness” (Gram Parson).

Spooner Oldamthe surprise guest, a Muscle Shoals musician, played along on keyboard most of the night. He played with Wilson Pickett on ‘Mustang Sally’ and on Percy Sledge’s ‘When a Man Loves a Woman.’  An accomplished organist, he toured with Bob Dylan, Neil Young, and more. He is also a great songwriter with hits like ‘Cry Like a Baby’ by The Box Tops and ‘I’m Your Puppet’ by James and Bobby Purify, and credits for ‘Dark End of the Street,’ originally recorded by James Carr. Inducted into the Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of Fame last year, Spooner Oldham sang a song he wrote with just Chris E accmp. on bass along with his keyboard.

Spooner Oldham and me!

Additional Songs which Chris Recorded with Others.

“Christine’s Tune” (AKA “Devil in Disguise”) – Flying Burrito Brothers.
“Faithless Love” – (Linda Ronstadt) Both of these  tunes were performed on the show by Mississippi Chris Sharp and the Jang-A-Lang String Band. Piper Lauderdale sang the lead vocals on “Faithless love” in a beautiful duet with her father, Mississippi Chris.

“Desperado”  – was sung by Al Harris with Spooner Oldham on piano. (Desperado is originally an EAGLES tune, but Linda Ronstadt had a hit on it, with Ethridge on bass on her recording.)   “Angel Flying too Close to the Ground” – Willie Nelson, performed by Al Harris.

“Hot Burrito #1”- Written by Gram Parsons and Chris Ethridge, was performed by Kenny Suire.

The official Show Lineup: 

1.   Jacky Jack White  -Still a Rebel” cowritten by Jacky Jack, Chris Ethridge, and Adam Box. From AL, Jacky Jack has co-written a song, “Another Wave Rollin’ In,” with Perry Sanders, Jr. that will be featured in a movie produced by Earth, Wind, and Fire’s singer/guitarist Sheldon Reynolds slated for a Fall release.)

2.   Sucarnochee Stage Hands–Justin McCoy and Ivory Robinson–performed “Baby I Need Your Lovin'” (Johnny Rivers) with Jacky Jack White

3.   Bo Denton performed “Secret Agent Man” (Johnny Rivers)

4.   Mississippi Chris Sharp and the Jang-A-Lang String Band.

5.   Track 45, 3 young siblings on strings who sang and played 2 patriotic songs, one with an a capella intro and also performed an original song

6.   Scott McQuaig with  Britt Gully and the Water Mocassins (pic in link, Chris’ brother is 2nd from right).

7.   Jody Tartt White, Jacky Jack’s talented wife sang “She” (co-written by Chris E and Gram Parson), recorded by Nora Jones.

8.   Spooner Oldham

9.   Bo Denton (another great local talent, singer, keyboardist & guitarist)

Bo Denton at the Echo

10. J. Burton Fuller

11. Kenny Suire (In addition to “Hot Burrito #1” Kenny also sang “Magnolia” by JJ Cale. Chris Ethridge played with JJ Cale)

12. Sucarnochee Stage Hands

13. Al Harris

14. Spooner Oldham

15. Chris Ethridge, Al Harris, Bo Denton, David Zetler, Jacky Jack and John Elmore joined together to play a round of Willie Nelson Tunes.

Chris playing at the Echo

16. Finale – “Uncloudy Day” was sung by all and led by J. Burton Fuller. Chris was a member of Willie Nelson’s band when Nelson’s cover of this song hit the billboard top ten chart in 1976.

Before the show began, Chris Ethridge was presented with a Peavey 5 string custom bass guitar which had been signed by Hartley Peavey (Meridian native) of Peavey Electronics, along with a brief note of Hartley Peavey’s recognition of Ethridge’s important contributions to American Music. A near-record crowd was in attendance. Many fans of Chris Ethridge and the Flying Burrito Brothers attended the show that had never been to the show before. A couple of the attendees from out of town brought Flying Burrito Brothers vinyl records for Ethridge to autograph. Flying Burrito Brothers formed with former members of the band the Byrds, along with Ethridge and Gram Parsons, and were very infuential and ahead of their time. Their work is still influencing new generations of musicians and performers. (info from Mississippi Chris Sharp)

*I regret to say that Chris Ethridge, a music legend, has passed away. I can’t believe he’s gone, although I only knew him a short time. He was a very talented songwriter and musician, yet he was a quiet, humble man. Prayers to his brothers and sweet mother. He will be missed. Here is his obituary and funeral arrangements.

Flying Burrito Brothers-

45 thoughts on “Chris Ethridge Tribute

  1. Wynne,Thanks for the wonderful writeup. One minor correction:The first song we performed that night was “Still a Rebel” cowritten by myself,Chris Ethridge, and Adam Box. “Another Wave Rollin’ In” is the song in the upcoming movie. I really appreciate this article. I think everyone had a good time at the tribute show. It was good meeting you at the Riley Center this week. God Bless,Jacky Jack

    • Thanks, I’ll fix that. Thank you for doing the tribute, Chris is so humble to have had such an amazing career so far. I really did enjoy the awesome show and I’m looking forward to seeing more of the Sucarnochee Review and the excellent musicians!

  2. Wynne, I really enjoyed this article about the Chris Ethridge tribute. It’s very well-written and informative and I loved the photos. And now, like Peggy above, I have to go watch “Honeysuckle Rose” again and look for “Easter”! Thank you! 🙂

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  4. Thank you for sharing this blog. Let me start by saying I grew up listening to the song “She” it was a favorite along with other songs by Gram Parsons in our house.

    My question is for Chris Ethridge–if you can relay this to him.

    Was the song that Chris help write “She”, about Emmylou Harris? Gram Parsons met Emmylou Harris in 1972. It appears the song “she” was written in the same year. Also, when Gram sang this song –it conveyed a deep love for the woman in the song. The content of the song describe Emmylou Harris. She was originally from the south–Delta Sun, Land of the Cotton and could really sing. Maybe this question has been answered in books, that I haven’t read yet. It occurred to me it was most likely Emmylou who the song was written. If anyone could tell me it would be Chris Ethridge.

    Thank you for your feedback.
    Patrick Sullivan

    • Patrick,
      Chris wrote the music and the the first part of the song when he was a teenager in Meridian, Mississippi. He introduced his version to Gram in 1968. Chris wrote the words for “she”, Gram wrote the words for “he”, and Booker T. wrote the words for “they”. and the chorus was always in my father’s mind. Booker T. recorded the song first on his album “Booker and Priscilla.”
      Necia Ethridge

  5. Hello Wynne

    This is a somewhat roundabout request, but I’m hoping you might be able to help out with it…
    I’m an English film maker, currently working on a (long overdue) documentary about the life and music of Gene Clark – another Missouri legend. It’s a project that has the support of Gene’s sons, Kelly and Kai.
    As Gene is no longer with us, we’re relying largely on interviews with people who knew him and worked with him – family, friends and fellow musicians – to tell his story. We’d like Chris to be one of those people, but he’s proving quite hard to track down.
    So, having stumbled across your blog, I was wondering if you could pass this request on to Chris or give us a contact address for him. My email address is:
    We’re planning to come to Missouri, to shoot some interviews and location footage of the places where Gene grew up, in September or early October. So perhaps it would be possible to meet with Chris then, if he’s willing to participate.
    Many thanks
    Paul Kendall

    • I’m sorry I think you are mixed up, sometimes I get state abbreviations confused, too. Chris is from the Southern part of USA–Mississippi, not Missouri that I know of… Maybe something I don’t know? He is very private, doesn’t talk about people. Let me know if you no longer need me to talk to him, or if it doesn’t matter where he’s from!

      • Wynne – Thanks for replying so quickly. You’re right about my being mixed up with the state abbreviations. Nevertheless, I’d be most grateful if you could get a message to Chris, to see if he’d be willing to participate in the Gene documentary. If he’s kind enough to agree, then I can work out the best way to make that possible. Kind regards. Paul

    • Dear Wynne,
      With great sadness and grief our “Beloved Chris” left us around 04:45 a.m, Monday, April 23, 2012. Due to a serious illness. He was a strong soldier to the very end.Knowing and loving my beloved Easter, (Chris) is one of my greatest joys and blessings. Tweny-five years of friendship is a beautiful thing. I can tell you he went peacefully and with grace..Chris loved life and fought the good fight. His children, mother and brothers need our prayers. Arrangements were made today.I will share with you when it is the appropriate time. (Soon.)
      When I return from Meridian I have much to share and will do so.
      Amazing! His strong faith in God has given Chris a promotion.and is now with his beloved father, John. This is difficult and I must close for now. I will return shortly. To everyone, thank you for loving “The Mississippi Music Man.”. Thank you for caring.You all know he cared deeply for you. This is a sad chapter of life .Contact me, anytime, Wynne.
      Via email, Willie Nelson, “We will miss you. RIP…Chris.”
      God Bless You, Easter. I trust you are at peace, now.
      Please lift up the Ethridge’s in prayer. Easter will be grateful.

      Jennylee Corley


  6. The last time I saw Chris was in 1979 at Harrah’s in Lake Tahoe, and he was playing with Willie Nelson. We did a whole lot of partying for about a week. I was staying at his house in N. Hollywood in ’73 and answered the phone one morning to get the news that Clarance White had been killed. He was doing sessions everyday and was trying, (along with Booker T.) to get me in on some sessions with Pricilla, Booker’s wife at the time. We also backed up Don Everly at a club in Calabasas. I’ve been wondering if Chris was still alive. I didn’t get much info from Facebook! Anyhow, if you see this Chris, I’m still alive and writing like crazy. More prolific than ever! I’m living in Illinois now.

    • Thanks for posting! I see him from time to time. He and his brothers are still playing in Meridian,MS with different bands. I told him I’m his messenger girl, since he is not on any social networks : ) I’m sure he’d love to hear from you. I’ll give him your message when I see him and let you know!

  7. Wynne, I’m assuming you’re talking to me. If I know Chris, he won’t pay much attention to this. But we were pretty good buddies at one time. One time we went to a Dodger game with J. D. Souther. J.D. was living (and producing) with Linda Ronstadt. It was her first solo album I believe. He was rebuilding an old Studabacker at the time. We stopped by to see it at a garage. At the game a real long homer was hit, so I said “I can’t even see that. I should have been an umpire”. Chris, J. D. and many people in the vicinity cracked up. At that time, I was the only one with any money, so I paid for all of us to get in. Now, I’m the only one without any money. Oof! I’m sure John David wouldn’t remember me, but I’m also sure Chris would! Nice talkin’ at ya!

    • Oh, yes Michael, was replying to you. Awesome! I love Linda. I’m sorry I haven’t seen him and he doesn’t get on the computer sites that I know of anyway. I will be sure to mention you when I do see him! He’s always glad to connect with “old” friends and musicians!

  8. It’s kind of funny, but I just noticed that my last response to you was on my 65th birthday. I’m assuming that you haven’t talked to Chris lately. I know he liked some of my tunes back in the the ’70’s, but he, or you might want to hear more recent ones. One way is to type in: Michael T.-Idaho. Another is to go to YouTube and type in: reedmunkey1. Joel Hill is trying to steal some, but I can prove that I wrote them! By the way, you’re mighty pretty.

      • I was without computer service for a few years. I just ran across this site by accident. Any “news” you have can’t be too new by now, but you can try I still think of Chris now and then, and I have to smile. He was a good-ole-boy for sure!

        Michael T. Lawson

    • thank you Michael. I am so sorry that Chris has passed away. I didn’t know until a couple of weeks ago that he had had pneumonia and couldn’t get over it. He was very talented and a sweet man.

  9. Everyone who knows and loves Chris Ethridge and those that don’t know him, but his lifetime of making music has been a special part of your life……Please stop now, and say a prayer for him. He is a wonderful man and the best bass player on
    the globe !

    • Dear Michael,
      You are very kind. Chris will appreciate your concern. Easter sat in with Willie and the band recently. He left the stage to a very
      long standing ovation. Everyone loves him and he is always humbled!

      • Dear Michael,
        You previously asked where Chris sat in with Willie. I asked Chris. It was Philadelphia, Mississippi. This was Chris and Willie’s last visit..

      • Dear Jennylee,
        I don’t know if you were talking to me. According to the date, it was before Chris passed. I could tell you some stories (I have to Wynne), but some are already on this site. He’s the one who hooked up Booker and Willie for that phenominal album! I was fortunate enough to play with Chris and Booker! I’m retired from playing now, but I still write a lot of tunes. You have no idea how much I miss jamming with Chris. He always knew “exactly” what to play! Never missed a note! Real music is all about taste! He had it! Less is more! He knew that! Nowadays, most pickers(?) don’t!

      • I am trying to answer all the questions concerning Chris .And, I will continue to do so. If I don’t have the answer, his family usually will. I just posted to Michael Larson. He wanted to know (months ago) where Chris sat in with Willie.I asked Chris. He told me Philadelphia, MI. Another article stated that this took place in Choctaw, MI. I have to answer with Chris’s words.(to me) I can research this later and if you choose to wait to post, I understand.My respect for you and your credibility is important. and this is why I wanted to share this. I want everything I share to be correct .For you and Chris.I have no knowledge of MI, except Meridian. I leave this in your hands. If you choose to wait, I understand. The Ethridge’s are aware of what you are doing for Chris. Since you are a pianoist, have you heard Chris’s piano solo of God Bless the Broken Road? (YouTube). Beautiful!
        Thanks and take care,
        Jennylee Corley. .


  10. When I knew Chris, he wouldn’t sing in public. Only around the house or in the studio. He sang Cranny Crow on the L.A. Getaway album. I think the last gig I played with him was in Boonville, Ca. in 1973. I was on steel, Chris on bass, John Barbata on drums, Booker T. on keyboards, Gene Clark on rhythm guitar and vocals, Gene Parsons on banjo and guitar and Joel Scott Hill on guitar and vocals. What a fun gig that was! I don’t know if Chris will ever see this, but if any of you see him, tell him I said howdy! Thanks!

    • I have a lot of messages to get to him! My friend Linda Way is the one who introduced us. Chris is very humble, but I have the feeling he doesn’t get on the internet that much; he’s a private person.

    • …Michael,was that you that played pedal steel on the unreleased sessions recorded at that small house on the road into Comptche?…I remember Chris,Booker,Joel,and Gene were in on it,as well a Johnny,or maybe Tommy Kendall?…

      • Yes, I played steel on those Comtche sessions. I also sang some harmony I think. I believe “Border Town” was in there which I wrote. Joel made some money from it; I never did! Byron Berline was also on those sessions; Tommy Kendall was nowhere around.

  11. I’d be surprised if Chris uses the internet at all. I’m surprised I do. I finally decided it might help my career. I reckon it has “some”, but it ain’t made me any money “yet”! It has given me some exposure. Whoop-de-do! So far, it’s only cost me money for an internet provider. Oof! Chris knows I wrote “Border Town” by myself. Joel Hill took half writers and all the money! All I got was my name on the album. Once again, tell Chris howdy for me!

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  20. One thing I should and right now will say, is that don’t give a dang about who Chris picked with ever! He was my friend! Praise the Lord! I know you’re at peace now!

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