Phil Kaufman wrote a book called "Road Mangler Deluxe" for which Frank Zappa wrote a little acknowledgment. The guy was the Human Trombone in the Baby Snakes movie/video. And if you look at the Joe's Garage liner, he coined the phrase "Why Does It Hurt When I Pee?"
Patrick Neve (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Phil Kaufman became Zappa's emergency replacement road manager when their previous manager (ron nehoda) had killed himself mid-tour, in September 1977.
He also produced the "LIE" album for prison-mate Charles Manson.
Charles Pater (email@example.com)
Is this the same Phil Kaufman who made a pact with Gram Parsons to burn the body (whichever of them died first) under the Joshua Tree N.M. and therefore he stole the coffin with Gram??? Must have been in 1973.
Patrick Neve (firstname.lastname@example.org)
It certainly is. One of the more bizarre tales in all of rock history.
Please continue. Reprinted w/o permission from The Straight Dope.
What strange events surrounded the death of country rock pioneer Gram Parsons?
Week of: 14-Nov-97
While watching a recent interview with Emmylou Harris, I was horrified when a member of the audience asked a rather personal question about Gram Parsons ("Why did Gram Parsons kill himself at such a young age?"). Ms. Harris handled the question gracefully and moved on to other, more pertinent topics (the sad state of commercial country music), but the question got me thinking. I've been a fan of Parsons's music but don't really know all that much about him as a person, other than he died young and there was some controversy surrounding his death. Can you fill me in?
--Jamie D., East Lansing, Michigan
Gram Parsons has become something of a cult figure in the music business. He never hit it big, and few outside a small circle remember him now. But people who ought to know say he was one of the pioneers behind the country-rock phenomenon of the late 60s and early 70s. A member of the Byrds for a short time, he was the creative force behind their 1968 country album, Sweetheart of the Rodeo, which many consider a classic. He went on to form the Flying Burrito Brothers and later invited then unknown Emmylou Harris out to LA to sing on his solo album, GP (1973), helping to launch her career. He hung out with the Rolling Stones (his influence can be heard on several cuts from Exile on Main Street) and had a big impact on Elvis Costello, Linda Ronstadt, Tom Petty, and the Eagles. Remember New Riders of the Purple Sage and Pure Prairie League? They owed a lot to Parsons. He's received many posthumous honors and musical tributes;
Emmylou Harris is working on a tribute album now, 24 years after his death. Best of all, he was born Ingram Cecil Connor III (Parsons came from his stepfather), and you gotta love a guy with a name like that.
Parsons wasn't a suicide, but he killed himself all right.
Blessed with charm and cash (his mother's family had made a pile in the citrus
business), he got into booze and drugs early. In September 1973 he finished
recording an album and went with some friends to an inn at Joshua Tree National
Monument, one of his favorite places. The group spent much of the day by the
pool getting tanked. By evening Gram looked like hell and went to his room to
sleep. Later, on their way out for some food, his friends were unable to rouse
him, so they left, returning a little before midnight. By that time Parsons was
pretty far gone. Taken to a hospital, he was pronounced dead shortly after
midnight on September 19. A lab analysis found large amounts of alcohol and
morphine in his system; apparently the combination killed him. He was 26 years
old. News coverage of his demise was eclipsed by the death of Jim Croce around
the same time.
So far, your typical live-fast-die-young story. Then it gets strange.
Before his death Parsons had said that he wanted to be cremated at Joshua Tree and have his ashes spread over Cap Rock, a prominent natural feature there. But after his death his stepfather arranged to have the body shipped home for a private funeral, to which none of his low-life music buddies were invited. Said buddies would have none of it. Fortified by beer and vodka, they decided to steal Parsons's body and conduct their own last rites.
Having ferreted out the shipping arrangements, Phil Kaufman (Parsons's road manager) and another man drove out to the airport in a borrowed hearse, fed the poor schmuck in charge of the body a load of baloney about a last-minute change of plans, signed the release "Jeremy Nobody," and made off with Parsons's remains. They bought five gallons of gas, drove 150 miles to Joshua Tree, and dragged the coffin as close to Cap Rock as they could by moonlight. Kaufman pried open the lid to reveal Parsons's naked cadaver, poured in the gas, and tossed in a match. A massive fireball erupted. The authorities gave chase but, as one account puts it, "were encumbered by sobriety," and the desperadoes escaped.
The men were tracked down a few days later, but there was no law against stealing a body, so they were charged with stealing the coffin or, as one cop put it, "Gram Theft Parsons." (Cops are such a riot.) Convicted, they were ordered to pay $750, the cost of the coffin. What was left of Parsons was buried in New Orleans.
So, youthful high jinks or breathless stupidity? All I know
is, I'd want my friends to show a little more enterprise keeping me alive than
torching my corpse.
Subject: A few corrections
Hi..le road mangler deluxe here.....love the site...
#1..it 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
Colin White (email@example.com)
As the publisher/co-author of Road Mangler Deluxe, I thank you most sincerely for your kind words about the book.
I would be more than happy for you to link your web page to our site (http://www.white-boucke.com/) to enlighten people about this book. It is available directly from us, from amazon.com, barnesandnoble.com and from other internet bookstore sites. Also from physical bookstores by special order.
1966 A Scream in the Streets
1979 Baby Snakes
1982 "The Comic Strip Presents" (television) playing "Scargill" in episode:
"GLC: the Carnage Continues..." (episode # 5.3) 2/15/1990
Charles Manson- LIE
1973 Gram Parsons- G.P./Grievous Angel (background vocals)
1979 Frank Zappa- Joe's Garage (doesn't appear, but recieves special thanks
for coining "the phrase".
Wanderers- Wanderers (Director)
1997 Space & Beyond- Space & Beyond [Silva] (Director)
1993 Road Mangler Deluxe, by Phil Kaufman with Colin White.
Also see: http://arf.kpbank.ru/Biblio/road_mn.html#1
Also see: http://www.phkauf.com/