I've always relished the seedy, out of control style of Gram Parsons — his insatiable party boy lifestyle and outrageously flashy clothing — but he was also a formidable force in popular music and influenced everything he touched.
He was hired to collaborate with The Byrds (now sans David Crosby) on their 6th album 'Sweetheart of the Rodeo', not, as most of the members of the band would have you know, a member. See, lots of animosity and tension marred the recordings: band leader Roger McGuinn didn't want the album to turn into a Gram Parsons project while Parsons got bitchy when some of his vocals were recorded over (GP was in the right, in retrospect it was a foolish decision, here's Parsons in his own words in 1973: “[McGuinn] erased it and did the vocals himself and fucked it up.”).
The album has a crisp honky-tonk sound, very different from other the Byrds records mainly due to the fact that Parsons felt it nessceary to record in Nashville. It didn't help band relations that the Nashville scene dismissed and despised the rock and rollers, nor that the public was unable to accept this new side to the band's sound.
Sweetheart was a flop, but has since been recognized for its influence and artistry. My favorite tracks are The Christian Life, You Don't Miss Your Water, and Hickory Wind.