Chris Hillman Biography

4 December 1942, Los Angeles, California, USA. Originally a mandolin player of some distinction, Hillman appeared in the Scottsville Squirrel Barkers, the Blue Diamond Boys and the Hillmen before Jim Dickson offered him the vacant role of bass player in the fledgling Byrds in late 1964. The last to join that illustrious group, he did not emerge as a real force until 1967’s Younger Than Yesterday, which contained several of his compositions. His jazz-influenced, wandering basslines won him great respect among rock cognoscenti, but it soon became clear that he hankered after his country roots. After introducing Gram Parsons to the Byrds, he participated in the much-acclaimed Sweetheart Of The Rodeo and went on to form the highly respected Flying Burrito Brothers. A line-up with Stephen Stills in Manassas and an unproductive period in the ersatz supergroup Souther Hillman Furay Band was followed by two mid-70s solo albums of average quality.

A reunion with Roger McGuinn and Gene Clark in the late 70s proved interesting but short-lived. During the 80s, Hillman recorded two low-budget traditional bluegrass albums, Morning Sky and Desert Rose, before forming the excellent and highly successful Desert Rose Band. They enjoyed considerable but diminishing success and the unit folded in 1993. Hillman and Herb Pedersen worked as a duo in the mid-90s and released a traditionally flavoured album, Bakersfield Bound, in 1996. Hillman returned to solo work with 1998’s Like A Hurricane, in addition to recording several albums with Tony Rice, Larry Rice and Pedersen. Their second album was lighter than the debut, and though some material erred towards the bland the high points included a good cover version of the Grateful Dead’s ‘Friend Of The Devil’. Hillman’s 2005 solo release The Other Side highlighted his Christian beliefs and included notable bluegrass-influenced versions of ‘Eight Miles High’ and ‘It Doesn’t Matter’). The album was as easy on the ear as it was joyous.

Source: The Encyclopedia of Popular Music by Colin Larkin. Licensed from Muze.

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