Enamored by the folk-rock hybrid being forged by the Byrds, Bob Dylan, and others to follow in the mid-1960s, singer-songwriter Rick Roberts began honing his chops in small clubs during his teenage years, before hitchhiking to California in 1969. Lan… Read more
Enamored by the folk-rock hybrid being forged by the Byrds, Bob Dylan, and others to follow in the mid-1960s, singer-songwriter Rick Roberts began honing his chops in small clubs during his teenage years, before hitchhiking to California in 1969. Landing in Los Angeles, Roberts began making his way performing on the club scene, becoming friends with many of the aspiring Laurel Canyon songwriters and musicians that would become the epicenter of the American music industry by the mid-1970s.
It was at one of these club performances that Roberts crossed paths with Flying Burrito Brothers' manager, Ed Tickner. The frontman and co-founder of the Burritos, Gram Parsons, had become professionally unreliable and his erratic behavior had the group looking for a replacement. This was a daunting task as Parsons had a strong following, and fans of the first two Burritos albums considered Parsons integral to the group's sound and an essential element of their mystique.
With the encouragement of Chris Hillman and Tickner, Roberts, who had an expressive voice and was a talented acoustic guitarist, became the new lead singer for the band. Roberts also began contributing songs to the band's repertoire, giving the group a more accessible pop sound, which was heavily represented on their next self-titled album. Roberts' presence dominated the album and he had a hand in writing six of the ten songs.
This personnel change took a while for existing fans to accept, but it made the Burritos more accessible to rock listeners and their live performances became stronger and far more consistent. Following the album and a subsequent tour, documented on the live Last Of The Red Hot Burritos album, the group's future was again in serious jeopardy. Ironically, the rest of the band departed for other projects, leaving Roberts the only established bandmember left.
He reluctantly began recruiting a whole new lineup of Burritos and to his credit, they remained a compelling live band. This new lineup fulfilled the bands European touring obligations and even released a double live album on their European label, but by the time they returned stateside, the writing was on the wall.
At this point Roberts began recording his debut solo album, Windmills. This album showcased his expressive voice and guitar playing and many of his Laurel Canyon friends contributed to the sessions. Three of the Eagles—Randy Meisner, Bernie Leadon and Don Henley—as well as Jackson Browne and pedal steel player extraordinaire, Al Perkins, all played on the recordings. Needless to say, the album had a country-rock feel not far removed from the Burrito Brothers. The songs on this album remain prime examples of California country-rock before it became formulaic and polished out of existence.