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-