Monday, April 18, 2016

Passings: Gib Guilbeau of The Flying Burrito Brothers (1937 - 2016)

Gib Guilbeau, a pioneer of country rock with Sweetwater and the Flying Burrito Brothers, died on Tuesday at the age of 78.

Guilbeau first started playing at the age of 14 in local Opelousas, LA bars, performing on fiddle and singing. During a stint in the U.S. Air Force, he started The Sons of the South with other servicemen, later joining The Hinkley Valley Boys after his discharge.

Gib played in a succession of bands including The Hi-Flyers and Four Young Men with which he recorded a number of singles in 1960. Next was the Castaways, playing around Nevada and the Pacific northwest. When of the members of the group quit, Guilbeau called a friend, Gene Parsons, to join.

Around 1966, Guilbeau and Parsons formed their own duo called Cajun Gib and Gene, playing at the Jack of Diamonds in Palmdale, CA. While mainly a two-man group, they occasionally brought in Clarence White to perform with them and the three recorded two singles and an album for the new Bakersfield International label.

Gib, Gene and Clarence next formed Nashville West with Wayne Moore. The band played everything from Merle Haggard to Chuck Berry and was one of the earliest groups to put a heavy country sound with pop stylings. The band worked extensively with Gary Paxton, backing many artists on his label including the Gosdin Brothers and Paxton himself.

In 1969, Guibeau joined Sweetwater, a band that was originally supposed to replace the Stone Poneys backing Linda Ronstadt and, later, Arlo Guthrie. Sweetwater recorded a self-titled debut album and released two singles before moving to RCA Records where they put out another self-titled album.

By 1973, Gib was working on demo recordings in Nashville but his heart was in L.A. and he regularly played with Sneaky Pete Kleinow in bands like Cold Steel, Lone Star and The Docker Hill Boys before he and Kleinow were asked to join a revamped Flying Burrito Brothers with Gene Parsons, Chris Ethridge, Joel Scott Hill and, later, Skip Batten. They recorded two studio albums for Columbia, Flying Again (1975) and Airborne (1976).

While the Burrito Brothers have gone through numerous personnel changes over the years, Guilbeau was pretty much a constant until he left in 1997. In the years since, Gib worked as a producer, studio musician and recorded a number of solo albums.

Guilbeau was also a prolific songwriter with his music recorded by most of his bands along with the likes of David Alan Coe, Bobby Womack, Jimmy C. Newman, Ricky Nelson and Rod Stewart

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