Hippie rock stars playing country music doesn’t seem that odd to us to now. But when the Byrds cut Sweetheart Of The Rodeoin 1968, it was a revolutionary notion. The Nashville establishment hated the mere idea so they hated the album itself. Today, it seems like a respectful twist on traditional country music but to the Grand Ole Opry crowd it was heresy.
Gram Parsons was the driving force behind the album, but he didn’t get along with some of the other Byrds. He left the band and his lead vocals were re-recorded by Roger McGuinn because of a legal dispute between Parsons and his record company. It has become a classic and inspired a raft of other artists over the years. The cover art is by the Uruguayan born cowboy and artist Jo Mora; or rather it is an adaptation of a 1932 poster by the artist, The American Cowboy Rodeo:
Here’s the version of the LP that featured three lead vocals by Gram Parsons: