A Suit-able Burrito Reunion – Billboard

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A Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum exhibit was well-suited for a fashionable country/rock reunion that took place July 20 in Nashville.

A rhinestone suit worn by Flying Burrito Brothers bassist Chris Ethridge on the cover of the band’s 1969 album Gilded Palace of Sin was unveiled in a museum display, placing it alongside the other three band members’ ensembles for the first time since that year. Clothier Manuel Cuevas custom-made the apparel for the group, tailoring it to the individual musicians’ personalities, when he worked at Nudie’s Rodeo Tailors in North Hollywood. Cuevas attended the reunion, held in the midst of the museum’s exhibit, “Western Edge: The Roots and Reverberations of Los Angeles Country-Rock.”

The Burritos also included guitarists Chris Hillman and Gram Parsons, and steel guitarist “Sneaky” Pete Kleinow. Gilded Palace was the only album to feature the original lineup, as members shuffled in and out of groups in the era’s fluid Southern California scene.



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“The Flying Burrito Brothers introduced new generations of fans to the beauty of country music and made the steel guitar rock,” said the exhibit’s co-curator, vp of museum services Michael Gray. “They have influenced everyone from The Rolling Stones and Tom Petty to many of today’s Americana artists. Their cosmic couture perfectly reflected their music, taking the rhinestone-studded suits identified with country music and adding their own psychedelic twist.”

The path that Ethridge’s suit took to a Nashville glass display case was twisted as well. It was stolen in 1969 from a station wagon owned by road manager Phil Kaufman, who also attended the reunion. Unknown to the band, the outfit ended up back on the rack at Nudie’s, where Elton John — who was likewise unaware of its history— purchased it in 1970. John wore it on the British TV show Top of the Pops, on the U.K. sleeve of his single “Rocket Man” and at the 1971 wedding of co-writer Bernie Taupin.

An anonymous buyer purchased it during a 1988 Sotheby’s auction, and the suit was stored for over 30 years until it popped up last year at a British online auction of John’s memorabilia.

An Ethridge family friend, musician Tommy Miles, stumbled across the auction the first — and only — time he used Twitter, and he called Ethridge’s daughter, Necia Ethridge, with the news on Nov. 19. She was able to purchase it privately, sealing the deal on her father’s birthday, Feb. 10, and she flew to London to pick it up on March 15. A documentary of the suit’s journey is in production.

Ethridge’s granddaughter, Emma Atkinson, performed “She,” a song that he co-wrote with Parsons, during the ceremony, along with Wilco’s Patrick Sansone and three members of Brothers Osborne’s band. Sansone covered “Hot Burrito #1.”

The “Western Edge” exhibit — which also includes artifacts related to The Eagles, Linda Ronstadt, Emmylou Harris and The Desert Rose Band — will remain open until May 2025.

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Written by: Soft FM Radio Staff

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