Guitarist/bassist/mandolinist/vocalist has had an active career spanning six decades. He is one of the pioneers of country rock and had success with a number of bands, many of which he was instrumental in forming. Here’s a sample of some of his work.
- The Byrds, "All I Really Wanna Do": Hillman had gained renown in the San Diego area as a solid bluegrass mandolinist in the early ’60’s. By the middle of the decade, after stints with several bluegrass bands, he was frustrated and ready to quit and enroll in UCLA when he received a call from a former manager who convinced him to join The Byrds with Roger McGuinn, David Crosby, Gene Clark and Michael Clarke. "All I Really Wanna Do" is from their 1965 album Mr. Tambourine Man and was the follow-up single to the title track. It reached #40 on the Hot 100 and #4 in the UK.
- The Flying Burrito Brothers, "White Line Fever": By 1968, The Byrds were down to McGuinn and Hillman. They brought on Gram Parsons and changed the direction of the band to country rock. Parsons left the band shortly after recording the album Sweetheart of the Rodeo, and Hillman left after him. Hillman and Parsons formed The Flying Burrito Brothers, moving further in the direction of country rock. "White Line Fever" is a Merle Haggard song that appeared on the Burritos’ eponymous third album from 1971.
- Manassas, "Lies": Hillman joined Manassas before The Flying Burrito Brothers disbanded and stayed with them until 1973. The Hillman-penned "Lies" comes from the band’s 1973 album Down The Road.
- The Souther-Hillman-Furay Band, "Safe At Home": David Geffen, who ran Asylum Records, suggested that Hillman join forces with J. D. Souther (who wrote much of The Eagles’ early material) and Richie Furay (formerly of Buffalo Springfield and Poco). The group recorded two albums before breaking up. "Safe At Home," by Hillman, is from the band’s eponymous first album; it reached #80 on the Cash Box chart in 1974.
- Desert Rose Band, "He’s Back And I’m Blue": In the early ’80’s, Hillman returned to his country roots, recording a couple of solo albums with Herb Pedersen (formerly of The Dillards, who most Andy Griffith Show fans are familiar with). Hillman and Pedersen formed The Desert Rose Band and issued their eponymous first album in 1987. The third single from that album, "He’s Back and I’m Blue," written by Robert Anderson and Michael Woody, reached #1 on the Country charts in the US and Canada in 1988.
Chris Hillman, your Five For Friday, December 18, 2020.
Five for Friday will return on January 1, 2021.