Chris Hillman is arguably the primary architect of what’s come to be known as country rock. After playing the Southern California folk and bluegrass circuit, he joined Roger McGuinn, David Crosby, Gene Clark and Michael Clarke as an original member of The Byrds. He went on to partner with Gram Parsons to launch The Flying Burrito Brothers, recording a handful of albums that have become touchstones of the Americana genre.
Hillman then embarked on a prolific recording career as a member of Stephen Stills’ Manassas, as a solo artist, and as a member of several groups that he insists sound more like law firms than bands: Souther-Hillman-Furay with acclaimed songwriter J.D. Souther and former Buffalo Springfield and Poco member Richie Furay; McGuinn, Clark & Hillman with two of his fellow former Byrds; and Rice, Rice, Hillman & Pedersen with legendary bluegrass musicians Tony Rice, Larry Rice, and longtime collaborator and duo partner Herb Pedersen. As a songwriter, he appeared on the Billboard singles charts in four consecutive decades, and his songs have been recorded by a diverse range of artists, from Steve Earle to Patti Smith to Roy Rogers. In the 1980s, Hillman launched a successful mainstream country group when he formed The Desert Rose Band with Pedersen and John Jorgenson, scoring eight Billboard Top 10 country hits. In the midst of his country success, he was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame along with the other original members of the Byrds. He has since released a number of solo efforts, including 2017’s highly-acclaimed Bidin’ My Time, which was the final album produced by Tom Petty with executive producer Pedersen.
Hillman’s memoir, Time Between: My Life as a Byrd, Burrito Brother and Beyond, first published November 17, 2020 by BMG Books, has gone into its second printing and will be available at retail on February 23, 2021.
Hillman remains active on the interview circuit. On March 3 he will be featured at Far West Folk Alliance’s virtual conference, “Best of the West & Beyond,” interviewed by journalist Randy Lewis. He will appear on the Signature Sounds Interview series on March 7.
Four tours have been postponed due to the pandemic: The East Coast shows will move to spring of 2022. Midwest dates will move to September, Florida shows to October and Texas shows to November of this year.
In the memoir, Hillman takes readers behind the curtain of his quintessentially Southern Californian experience. Raised in San Diego County’s then-rural Rancho Santa Fe, Chris grew up in an idyllic 1950s environment that was filled with TV cowboys, horseback riding, exploring the outdoors, surfing, discovering girls, and falling in love with music. When his older sister came home from college with a stack of records by folk artists such as Woody Guthrie and Lead Belly, Chris was hooked. He soon fell in love with the bluegrass music of Bill Monroe, Flatt & Scruggs, and The Stanley Brothers, spending hours mastering the guitar and mandolin. Once the Beatles invaded America, the various aspects of Hillman’s musical DNA came together that would eventually lead to him become a pioneering founding father of country-rock.
According to Hillman, "I never anticipated such an incredible response to my book, Time Between, and to already be in the second printing is just phenomenal. I'm grateful to the many people who have embraced it."
“BMG has been so pleased with the reaction to Chris’s book,” adds Scott B. Bomar, Publisher and Senior Director of the company’s growing Books department. “We knew it was great, which is why we signed it, but even we were surprised by how swiftly we needed another printing. Nearly the entire first print run was accounted for by the time it hit the market, and we had to scramble to get another print run initiated during the busy holiday season. That’s a good problem to have. The critics and, more importantly, the fans have really resonated with Chris’s direct and honest style. We’re thrilled to be a part of helping him tell his story.”
The book won press accolades upon publication. “It’s fascinating to read about his view from slightly out of the spotlight as countless memorable characters drift in and out of his life,” noted Variety. Forbes echoed: “To say that musician Chris Hillman had an interesting musical career would be a definite understatement. In the 1960s, Hillman was a member of two pioneering bands ... So it only makes sense that Hillman, who continues to record as a solo artist, pen a memoir about his time with those bands.”
Singer-songwriter Wesley Stace, reviewing in The Wall Street Journal, wrote: “Mr. Hillman, a Rock & Roll Hall of Famer with four Grammy nominations to his name, has a solid claim as anyone — though he modestly does not make it — to have invented the entire genre of country rock ... The cutthroat mentality of a band on the make is tactfully told. Mr. Hillman, a longtime Christian who understands that it's all about motes and beams, is as discreet about other people's bad choices as he is about his own, and Time Between gives him a chance to reflect, make amends and give thanks.”
No Depression summed it up: “Chris, who is still an active musician, has written a concise memoir that’s narrated in an easy-going conversational manner ... it’s hard to put down.”