Steel Guitarist "Sneaky" Pete Kleinow Dies
Tue, 09 Jan 2007 13:22:20
Gram Parsons Photos
One of the unsung heroes of the '70s country-rock movement, "Sneaky" Pete Kleinow, died Saturday (January 6th) at a convalescent home in Petaluma, California at the age of 72. A steel guitar wizard and founding member of the Flying Burrito Brothers, Kleinow's distinctive style on the the instrument influenced a generation of artists, from The Eagles to latter-day alt-country acts like The Jayhalks and Uncle Tupelo.
Originally from South Bend, Indiana, Kleinow relocated to Los Angeles in 1963, where he began to get work as a session musician and jingle writer (among his accomplishments in those early days: the theme music to the children's television show Gumby). In 1968, he met Gram Parsons and Chris Hillman, who were then part of influential folk-rock group The Byrds. They invited Kleinow to join a new band they were forming called the Flying Burrito Brothers; the group's first album, 1969's The Gilded Palace of Sin, established the blueprint for the California country-rock sound popularized by later artists like the Eagles, Jackson Browne, and Poco.
The Burrito Brothers broked up in 1981, but Kleinow, who remained a highly sought-after session musician, continued to record and tour, both as a solo artist and with bands like his final project, Burrito Deluxe, which he formed in 2000. His steel guitar can be heard gracing recordings by everyone from John Lennon to the Bee Gees.
Throughout his life, Kleinow maintained a second career as an award-winning animator and special effects artist. He worked on The Empire Strikes Back, and won an Emmy in 1983 for his work on the miniseries, The Winds of War.
Kleinow was diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease two years ago and had been living in a skilled nursing facility since last year. "I think he made it in his head he didn't want to be there and found a way not to be," his daughter Anita said.
Kleinow is survived by his wife of 54 years, Ernestine, daughters Anita and Tammy, and sons Martin, Aaron and Cosmo. The family plans to hold a memorial service in Joshua Tree, California later this month.
--The ARTISTdirect Staff