Grand Theft Parsons (05/20/2006)

The above photo from Phil Kaufman’s website shows him with Gram Parsons and Emmylou Harris.

In the wasteland that is satellite television–all those channels and nothing to watch except C-SPAN– I somehow came across Grand Theft Parsons . based on true incident of  how Gram Parsons‘s road manager and friend, Phil Kauffman,  stole his corpse and burned it in Joshua Tree National Park  to honor their private final-rites pact.  Not the best Lionsgate or Sundance Festival film.  The possibilities are  intriguing.

Here’s the story from Parson’s website:

Was Gram’s body stolen after his death?

During the funeral ceremony for Gram’s close friend Clarence White, Gram was overheard stating that when he died, rather than being buried in the ground, he would like to be taken out to The Joshua Tree desert of southern California and burned. After Gram died in The Joshua Tree Inn, his body was taken to the Los Angeles International Airport in preparation for being flown to Louisiana for burial. Gram’s road manager Phil Kaufman and a friend, Michael Martin, got very intoxicated, borrowed a broken down hearse and drove to LAX to retrieve the body. When they arrived, they told the shipping clerk that Gram’s remains were to be sent out of another airport, flashed some bogus paperwork and falsely signed for the body. After crashing into a wall and almost being arrested, Phil, Michael and Gram drove back to The Joshua Tree Desert, stopping only to buy more beer and a container of gasoline. They took Gram’s remains into the desert, poured gasoline inside the coffin and set him ablaze. The two were arrested several days later and fined $700.00 for stealing and burning the COFFIN (it was is not against the law to steal a dead body). Gram’s partially burned remains were finally laid to rest in a modest cemetery near New Orleans, LA.

Fans still flock to the Joshua Tree Inn, where Parsons died of an overdose of morphine and tequilla.

Kaufman wrote Road Mangler Deluxe,   which he humorously hawks from his home in Nashville:

for a mere $24.95 for his autograph, 5 cents for the book. And that includes shipping and plenty of handling! What a bargain, what a deal!

Kaufman has even weighed in to cheerfully correct some details of the cremation found at United Mutations, a fan site from Belgium.

     Subject: A few corrections
Hi..le road mangler deluxe here… the site… was me who said we were charged with “Gram theft Parsons”..the cops failed to see the humor in it..
#2.I bought 5 gals. of hi-test gas so he wouldn’t ping!!!!!!!!
#3.We were actually fortified with Mickey Big Mouth malt ale and Jack Daniels…
thanks again,Phil Kaufman



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