Cajun and Country Rock Performer Gib Guilbeau Has Died
One of the most important players to help usher in the era of West Coast music where the worlds of country and rock collided has passed away. Gib Guilbeau—a member of nascent country rock bands such as Nashville West, Swampwater, the backing bands for artists like The Gosdin Brothers and Linda Ronstadt, and later a member of The Flying Burrito Brothers—died on April 13th according to his family and Sierra Records. Gib Guilbeau was 78-years-old.
Though maybe not as recognizable of a name as many of the artists Gib shared lineups with, including Gene Parsons and Clarence White, his unique approach to music, influenced by his distinctly Cajun flavor and upbringing, made Guibeau seminal to the sound that would become West Coast country rock.
Gib was a singer, a fiddle and guitar player, and a songwriter whose compositions were recorded by artists as far ranging as The Byrds, Kris Kristofferson, Jimmy C. Newman, Ricky Nelson, The Dillards, Bobby Womack, Ronnie Wood of Faces and The Rolling Stones, and Rod Stewart. His fiddle playing can be heard on recordings from Linda Ronstadt, J.D. Souther, B.W. Stevenson, Arlo Guthrie, Rita Coolidge, and The Spencer Davis Group. If it was 60’s country rock, there’s a good chance Gib Guilbeau either had a hand in it, or helped influence it in some capacity.
Floyd August Guilbeau was born on September 26, 1937 in Sunset, Louisiana, slightly north of Lafayette in the southern part of the state. Guilbeau’s father and brothers were fiddle players, and Gil took up learning the instrument at 14-years-old.
Gib joined his first professional band in 1960 called The Four Young Men, who later were joined by frontman Bobby Edwards. The group had the Top 5 country hit in 1961 “You’re The Reason,” later covered by Hank Williams III.
Gil first partnered with Gene Parsons in a short-lived group called the Castaways, but in 1967, they formed The Reasons, later to be known as Nashville West, which included well-known West Coast country guitarist Clarence White of The Byrds. Considered one of the first true country rock bands, Nashville West shared the stage with Gram Parsons and The Gosdin Brothers among others. In 1969, Guilbeau transitioned into the group called Swampwater, which replaced the Stone Ponies behind Linda Ronstadt. This is where the swampy influence of Guilbeau’s upbringing really came into force.
Guilbeau released a solo record in 1973, and then in 1974, he joined a newer version of The Flying Burrito Brothers formed in the aftermath of Gram Parson’s passing. The new group included original members Chris Ethridge and Sneaky Pete Kleinow. Guilbeau continued to work with the band as the “Burrito Brothers” in the 80’s (which also successfully waged a campaign to see Lefty Frizzell inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame), and then as the Flying Burrito Brothers again throughout the 90’s.
A consummate side man and singer, as well as a well-respected songwriter, West Coast country rock would have not sounded the same if it wasn’t for the influence and efforts of Gib Guilbeau.
April 14, 2016 @ 9:05 am
Good article, thanks for posting Trigger.
April 14, 2016 @ 9:46 am
T’is sad to hear of Gilbeau’s passing. As mentioned, Gibby’s musical imprint is on a lot of country rock records. Rest in Peace, and Godspeed, Gib.
April 14, 2016 @ 12:37 pm
These pop up ads sure suck!!!
I’m from the Sunset, La area and I’ve never heard of this guy. Shit town just off I-49. They should have some sort of tribute to him. Nothing else good ever came outta there that’s for sure.
April 14, 2016 @ 12:53 pm
There are no pop up ads on Saving Country Music. If you’re seeing pop up ads, it is Maleware on your device. It doesn’t matter if you think you ONLY see them on Saving Country Music. There are popular strains of Malware right now that only populate on mid-sized sites like Saving Country Music so you blame the site, not the device and make no effort to eliminate it. SCM has never, and will never have pop ups.
April 14, 2016 @ 1:28 pm
Reread my comment hotshot. I didn’t blame the site, or say anything about SCM. You did. Thanks for the great reads.
April 14, 2016 @ 2:55 pm
I did read your comment. If I misunderstood, I apologize, but re-reading it, I’m not sure where I did. Like I said, numerous people have been complaining about pop ups on the site for the last month or so. I just wanted you and others to know it isn’t coming from the site.
April 14, 2016 @ 7:54 pm
I didn’t say it came from the site. I was trying to type and pop ups kept interrupting me. So I typed that out of frustration. I didn’t “blame the site” or say I “ONLY see them on SCM” You directed your frustration at others blaming your site for pop ups on my commrnent. I’ll say it again, pop ups suck. So do snakes and mosquitos.
April 14, 2016 @ 4:43 pm
It’s Gib’s fiddle work on Linda’s second try at “Silver Threads And Golden Needles”, which was her first penetration of the C&W singles chart back in early 1974 (it got up to #20 that spring); and he provided the fiddle work on Linda’s versions of “Crazy Arms” and “I Fall To Pieces”, from her self-titled 1972 album (the one that included the soon-to-be Eagles).
And yes, he was certainly an important figure in the California country-rock movement of the late 1960s and early 1970s, which means that he will of course be very much missed. In truth, there is a lot about that particular movement that I am not sure too many people know much about beyond the names of all the people involved. For more on the history of this sometimes misunderstood movement, look for John Einarson’s book DESPERADOS: THE ROOTS OF COUNTRY ROCK.