While on a recent visit to Palm Springs, staying of course in the ultra-mellow Ace Hotel and Swim Clubwe had to take a quick detour to another hotel to pay some rock’n’roll respects. Because not only is Palm Springs a jump-off point to the stunning Joshua Tree National Park, but it is also close-as-damnit to the Joshua Tree Inn, a hotel steeped in music myth. For those that don’t know the story it was in Room 8 of the inn, on September 18 1973, that singer-songwriter Gram Parsons took his last intakes. Parsons, a veteran of the Byrds and The Flying Burrito Brothers and a key figure in the 1960s West Coast rock scene, died aged 26 after consuming a cocktail of tequila and morphine, hence giving rise to yet another legend of a young musician burning too brightly and too close to the fire.
But the story continues in the Joshua Tree National Park itself. Parson’s road manager Phil Kaufman hijacked the body and drove it out to Cap Rock, a few miles from the inn, in the heat of the desert. It is at Cap Rock that Parsons would visit with Keith Richards, get high and look for UFOs. There Kaufman set the body on fire, as per an earlier agreement he had made with Parsons, and a million rock pilgrimages were born.