Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Cap Rock and Gram Parsons

It's impossible for me to drive by Cap Rock in Joshua Tree National Park without thinking about Gram Parsons. In case you aren't familiar with this strange, twisted story, I'll give you the thumbnail sketch. This might be a good time to cue up a Gram Parsons Song (doesn't really matter which one!). 

By all accounts, Gram loved the high desert and Joshua Tree in particular. He was a frequent weekend visitor (often with his road manager Phil Kaufman and Keith Richards). During a friend's funeral, Kaufman and Gram made a pact: If either one of them was to die prematurely, they wanted their body to be taken out to JTree and set on fire so their ashes could float out over the desert they both loved so much.

Sadly, Gram Parsons died of a drug overdose not long after making the pact, on September 19, 1973 (room 8 of the Joshua Tree Inn). He was just 26 years old. Evidently Kaufman took his promise to his friend seriously, and crazy times ensued as he and friend Michael Martin drove a hearse to LAX, stole the body that was waiting to be flown to family in Louisiana, and managed to get all the way to Cap Rock in Joshua Tree. There they doused the body with gasoline and watched the resulting giant fireball in the desert sky.
Photo credit: Google images
Under Cap Rock where the "funeral pyre" took place, graffiti, stone crosses, guitar picks, etc. are constantly springing up, and the Park Service is not far behind with the cleanup. It seems to be a never ending cycle!

Photo credit:  Google images
So as I found myself hiking back from the Mystery Cabins Hike, I had a view of Cap Rock that I hadn't seen before. Walking back in an easterly directions from the cabins, this is the view you see.

Pretty easy to see why they call it Cap Rock! It's a great view of this famous rock formation.

Here's an square-cropped version with a texture added:
Next time you find yourself driving through Joshua Tree and pass by Cap rock, I hope you'll think of Gram Parsons!
R.I.P, G.P.!
11/5/46 - 9/19/73

Linking with Skywatch Friday
Click on the link to check out great skies from around the world!
Thanks for stopping by!!

38 comments:

  1. I didn't know that about him - it's a beautiful place.

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  2. Well, you dusted off a few dormant brain cells with this post! I really like the processing on the last shot, I bet it would be stunning printed on canvas!

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  3. I didn't know that story at all, but strangely when I put my little MP3 player on to random play this morning, out of a couple of thousand tracks thereon, up popped Ooh Las Vegas.

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  4. Wow, what a story and what are Joshua trees good in illustrating the desert. Great post again.

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  5. Amazing place I can see why he was taken with it. Such a shame so many talented people die from overdoses like that, have to ask myself why

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  6. Clearly, you're a romantic, with a good camera eye

    :)

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  7. Wow, I really enjoyed reading your nice post. Love all your nice pictures of this amazing place!!!
    Henry

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  8. I must have missed all of that.... What a story. Super pictures.

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  9. What a story! And what a beautiful area. I'm actually kind of glad a few laws were broken here -- everyone should get to choose their method of leaving. But 26 ... like so many other swho died at around that age, wish he'd chosen a little different a little earlier.

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  10. as always you have beautiful images. A pleasure to watch :)

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  11. Awesome images. I always enjoy your desert scenes and the dramatic trees/cacti against the sky.

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  12. Enjoyed the history of this area and your great images. I never will be in this part of the world, but enjoy it through others eyes.

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  13. I've never heard of him but it's neat how so many people were fans and appreciated his music.

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  14. So very gorgeous! And what a fascinating story about Gram Parsons!

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  15. Peter,

    The clearness of the dessert sky is amazingly gorgeous with just a tint of the sun's glow on the horizon. Although I can't see myself living in the southwest, I am mesmerized by its beautiful contrast from my East Tennessee landscape. Hopefully one day I can see these sights with my own eyes but for now through your lens will do. Interesting rock formation and I love the JTree in the foreground. Cool filter effects on the last pix, too. Thanks for sharing with SWF!

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  16. What a story an only one that could happen in the world of pop stardom!
    Your photos of Cap Rock are breathtaking! Everything about them is beautiful!

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  17. Fascinating story! A great collection of images...and that last one is simply stunning...square is good!

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  18. Hope to be able to see this beautiful place some day.

    Worth a Thousand Words

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  19. A very nice series of pictures. I love your work and your style!!

    Greetings from the Netherlands!
    Gert Jan
    www.gertjanhermus.nl

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  20. What beautiful editing on these photos!!!...:)JP

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  21. I must say I don't know Gram Parsons! Now I will hear about him by Youtube - and then I know him!
    Greetings from Germany
    Kirsi

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  22. Thanks for your comment about the antique coffee grinder! Open air antique markets in Holland are dangerous places. So, none of my antiques were inherited. The story of Gram is heart breaking. Obviously, the crosses, guitar picks and other moments show that he is remembered.
    Love the photo edit of your last image -easily could be a painting!

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  23. I do see the cap on top of the mountain. Lovely, images of the Joshua Tree Forest. Your Editing skills are spectacular.

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  24. What a story!!! I had heard of Gram Parsons but did not know all this.

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  25. Strange Days indeed - although thats a different musician who died too young.

    Cheers - Stewart M - Melbourne

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  26. What a great story and I never heard it before even though I have listened to his music through the years. I love the cap, it's so identifiable and now will always think of G.P. when I see a photo or read something about it. Thanks for sharing such an interesting story.

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  27. I love your shots of Cap Rock. I have been to Joshua Tree once, and found it to be so eerie and magical. When I think of it, I think of U2.

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  28. The only thing I remember very well from this park was its smell ! It smelled so good I never met the same smell elsewhere !

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  29. I hope i don't forget the story by the time I get there - to see all those surreal formations for myself. Bucket list and you make it look so great.

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  30. A fantastic and interesting post with gorgeous photos. I'm a little surprised Keith Richards wasn't in on this escapade.

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  31. Amazing images of Cap Rock, interesting post.

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  32. Great story. Beautiful images. I like editing too.

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  33. GORGEOUS photos Pete! It's a sad and crazy story.
    I can't imagine Pete Richards having a positive influence on anybody. Yet, he keeps on trucking...

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  34. Another interesting story. Love your last edit.

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