Grand Theft Parsons

Phil Kaufman, Gram, Emmylou …

September 20, 1973 ~

The body of Gram Parsons is stolen and taken to Joshua Tree National Park, where it is set on fire.

Parsons died the previous day after a visit to Joshua Tree when he took an overdose of alcohol and morphine. His body is at Los Angeles International Airport, scheduled to be flown to his family in New Orleans, but his friends Phil Kaufman and Michael Martin have other ideas: Showing up at the airport in Kaufman’s hearse (his everyday vehicle), they claim the body, signing the release forms as “Jeremy Nobody.”

They head to Joshua Tree, about 200 miles away, stopping at a bar along the way where they drink a toast to Parsons. Arriving at the Cap Rock landmark in the park, they unload Parsons’ casket, douse it with gas and set it on fire. Cap Rock has special significance, as it’s where Parsons enjoyed an evening with Keith Richards doing peyote.

The following day, authorities find the body, and Kaufman and Martin are later arrested, fined, and given suspended sentences. Kaufman claims that Parsons had asked for the desert consecration, and that he was simply carrying out his wishes.

The incident becomes legend and provides Parsons with a far more elegant coda than his hotel room overdose.

Credit: Songfacts

Gram.

September 19, 1973 ~

Gram Parsons dies at 26 after taking a shot of liquid morphine in his room at Joshua Tree Inn. Parsons had been recovering from drug and alcohol addiction, but relapsed during his trip to Joshua Tree National Park. “He was clean and took a strong shot,” his friend Keith Richards says. “It’s the one mistake you don’t want to make.”

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Grand theft Parsons …

September 10, 1973 ~ The body of Gram Parsons is stolen and taken to Joshua Tree National Park and set on fire. Gram’s road manager, Phil Kaufman, allegedly is simply fulfilling a pact he and Gram had based on what to do if one or the other should pass on.

Gram died the day before after a visit to Joshua Tree when he took an overdose of alcohol and morphine. His body is at Los Angeles International Airport, scheduled to be flown to his family in New Orleans, but his friends Phil Kaufman and Michael Martin have other ideas: Showing up at the airport in Kaufman’s hearse (his everyday vehicle), they claim the body, signing the release forms as “Jeremy Nobody.”

They head to Joshua Tree, about 200 miles away, stopping at a bar along the way where they drink a toast to Parsons. Arriving at the Cap Rock landmark in the park, they unload Parsons’ casket, douse it with gas and set it on fire. Cap Rock has a special place in Gram’s heart as it’s where he enjoyed a night with Keith Richards doing peyote.

The following day, authorities find the body, and Kaufman and Martin are later arrested, fined, and given suspended sentences. Kaufman claims to this day that Parsons had asked for the desert consecration, and that he was simply carrying out his wishes.

Grand Theft Parsons

November 6, 1973: Michael Martin and Phil Kaufman were charged and fined $300 each for the theft of a coffin containing Gram Parsons body. The court heard that the two men were merely carrying out Parson’s wishes to be cremated in the desert.

Police had arrested Phil Kaufman, 38, Parsons’ road manager, and Michael Martin, 26, reported to have been a roadie with the Byrds during Parsons’ one year with the group. They were booked on suspicion of grand theft and released on $1000 bond.

Gram. 

September 19, 1973 ~

Gram Parsons dies at 26 after taking a shot of liquid morphine in his room at Joshua Tree Inn. Parsons had been recovering from drug and alcohol addiction, but relapsed during his trip to Joshua Tree National Park. “He was clean and took a strong shot,” his friend Keith Richards says. “It’s the one mistake you don’t want to make.”