HISTORY: GRAM PARSONS
A little more info about Gram Parsons. The influential music artist had some history at Green Acres Ranch, which was then the hippie commune/hangout named Thompson Ranch...
via Gram Parsons Federation-
Gram Parsons (November 5, 1946 – September 19, 1973) was an American singer, songwriter, guitarist and pianist. Parsons is best known for his work within the country genre; he also mixed blues, folk, and rock to create what he called "Cosmic American Music". Besides recording as a solo artist, he also worked in several notable bands, including the International Submarine Band, The Byrds, and The Flying Burrito Brothers. His career, though short, is described by Allmusic as "enormously influential" for both country and rock, "blending the two genres to the point that they became indistinguishable from each other."
JOSHUA TREE CONNECTION
In the late 1960s, Parsons became enamored with Joshua Tree National Monument (now Joshua Tree National Park) in southeastern California. After splitting from Burrell, Parsons would frequently spend his weekends in the area with Margaret Fisher and Phil Kaufman. Before his tour was scheduled to commence in October 1973, Parsons decided to go on one more excursion. Accompanying him were Fisher, personal assistant Michael Martin, and Dale McElroy, Martin's girlfriend.
DEATH and the LEGENDARY AFTERMATH
Less than two days after arriving, Parsons died on September 19, 1973, in Joshua Tree, California, at the age of 26 from an overdose of morphine and alcohol.
Parsons' body disappeared from the Los Angeles International Airport where it was being readied to be shipped to Louisiana for burial. Prior to his death, Parsons stated that he wanted his body cremated at Joshua Tree and his ashes spread over Cap Rock, a prominent natural feature there; however, Parsons' stepfather arranged for a private ceremony back in New Orleans and neglected to invite any of his friends from the music industry. To fulfill Parsons' funeral wishes, Kaufman and a friend stole his body from the airport and in a borrowed hearse drove it to Joshua Tree. Upon reaching the Cap Rock section of the park, they attempted to cremate Parsons' corpse by pouring five gallons of gasoline into the open coffin and throwing a lit match inside. What resulted was an enormous fireball. The police gave chase but, as one account puts it, "were encumbered by sobriety," and the men escaped. The two were arrested several days later. Since there was no law against stealing a dead body, they were only fined $750 for stealing the coffin and were not prosecuted for leaving 35 lbs of his charred remains in the desert. Parsons body was eventually buried in Garden of Memories of Metairie, Louisiana.
Parsons' makeshift memorial in Joshua Tree, CaliforniaThe site of Parsons' cremation was marked by a small concrete slab and was presided over by a large rock flake known to rock climbers as The Gram Parsons Memorial Hand Traverse. The slab has since been removed by the U.S. National Park Service, and relocated to the Joshua Tree Inn. There is no monument at Cap Rock noting Parsons' cremation at the site. Joshua Tree park guides are given the option to tell the story of Parsons' cremation during tours, but there is no mention of the act in official maps or brochures. Fans regularly assemble simple rock structures and writings on the rock, which the park service sand blasts to remove from time to time.