When acclaimed pedal steel guitarist Sneaky Pete Kleinow died at 72 his legacy was an astounding CV in music and movies.

The iconic steel supremo succumbed to Alzheimer's disease in a convalescent home in Petaluma, California on Saturday January 6.

"He was diagnosed about two years ago now and definitely didn't want to be left in a nursing home or anything like that,'' a daughter Anita revealed.

"I think he made it in his head he didn't want to be there and found a way not to be.''

Sneaky Pete played on more than 200 vinyl albums and CDS embracing various line-ups of The Flying Burrito Brothers.

He also played on albums by Australian artists diverse as Brian Cadd, Helen Reddy, Olivia Newton-John and The Bee Gees.

Sneaky Pete also released three solo albums - Sneaky Pete (1979), The Legend And The Legacy (1994) and Meet Sneaky Pete (2001.)

His latest projects were with former Band keyboard player Garth Hudson on two discs
as Burrito Deluxe - a band he co-founded in 2000.

Hudson, Kleinow, Amazing Rhythm Aces bassist Stick Davis, singer Carlton Moody and drummer Rick Lonow released second album The Whole Enchilada in 2004 on Luna Chick Records.

It featured originals Woman Like You, Kleinow instrumental Sister and Moody tunes Zydeco Ball and Everywhere I Go.

The covers included Mark Germino's classic radio parody Rex Bob Lowenstein, John Prine-Keith Sykes tune You Got Gold and Aces gems The Last Letter Home and All I Had Left (Left With You.)

"I played in a couple of bands with Pete and knew him as a great person and a great musician truly bringing his own voice to the instrument," Lonow revealed.

His last recording with the group is scheduled for February release, said Brenda Cline, the band's manager.

"Americana circles will mourn his death,'' Cline said. "He is partially responsible for where the Americana market is today.''

His last public performance was at a 2005 tribute concert to Gram Parsons.

Sneaky Pete was survived by his wife of 54 years, Ernestine, his daughters Anita and Tammy, and three sons - Martin, Aaron and Cosmo.

Plans for a memorial service to be held in Joshua Tree later this month are pending.


Sneaky Pete may have been best known for his work with embryonic Flying Burrito Brothers but his other creative font was his movie work.

Kleinow also created special effects for a brace of Hollywood movies including The Empire Strikes Back, The Right Stuff, Gremlins, Under Siege, Fearless and both Terminator blockbusters.

Sneaky Pete was born in South Bend, Indiana, but didn't take up pedal steel guitar until he heard Jerry Byrd.

Kleinow got his first job playing pedal steel on a radio program at age 16.

"It was a God-given talent,'' Anita Kleinow said.

"He fell in love with it and was immediately expert with it.''

After high school graduation he worked for Michigan State Highway Department for a decade as a road maintenance worker.

In 1963 he re-located to Los Angeles where he played with a variety of bands on the club circuit.

"I was brought to the steel guitar by hearing some lap players, people that had lap guitars, and I started off doing that but I was very amateurish and I just gradually got to the point where I had my own steel guitar," Sneaky Pete revealed before falling ill.

"It was quite a long time ago, that I started to reach out and try to develop some style of my own. I think we kind of succeeded in that, we learned how to create better sounding music
and having Gram Parsons in the band and all the others was just a wonderful experience."

Kleinow attributed his love of pedal steel to his family.

"My very first ear-opener was an old 78-rpm record I found in Mom's collection. It was Bing Crosby singing Sweet Leilani and Blue Hawaii, " Kleinow wrote in 1978. "There was a steel guitar on it that made my eyes misty, and I couldn't stop playing that record."

"I've been accused of having an unorthodox approach to the steel guitar," he wrote in the liner notes for his 1979 solo album, Sneaky Pete.

"But that's because whenever I do a session, I'm not thinking 'steel guitar'; I'm thinking 'What kind of sound will fit here?' "


Kleinow broadened his musical palate by composing jingles and theme music for childrens' TV series Gumby based on Art Clokey's cartoons.

Kleinow also created special effects for a brace of Hollywood movies including The Empire Strikes Back, The Right Stuff, Gremlins, Under Siege, Fearless and both Terminator blockbusters.

Kleinow also developed special effects for other films including Outer Limits, 7 Faces Of Dr Lao and The Wonderful World Of The Brothers Grimm.

And he won an Emmy in 1983 for his work on the mini-series The Winds Of War.

But he said he didn't do anything to earn his nickname.

"I didn't create that name," Sneaky Pete said in a 2004 interview.

"People started using that when I had an old band where everyone had a nickname of sorts and I got that name hung on me, and I'm sorry I did. I tried to shake it off but they won't let me so I still have it. No, no I was never sneaky. I was very forthcoming and spoke my mind. No I wasn't sneaky at all."

Sneaky Pete debuted on the 1968 album Fantastic Expedition Of Dillard & Clark and releases by Lynn Blessing, Henry Gross and Joe Cocker in 1969.

It was the same year he met Chris Hillman and the late Gram Parsons and joined the Byrds before becoming a Flying Burrito Brother for their Gilded Palace Of Sin disc and played on Dillard & Clark LP Through The Morning.

"He was one of the most interesting people I've ever played music with," said Hillman whose Desert Rose Band carried the torch in the nineties.

"His approach to his instrument was unlike any other steel player I'd ever known or worked with, because he would draw on such diverse musical areas. In the early Burritos, we didn't really have a lead guitar player - that meant most of the solos fell to him. Pete had his steel set up like some Rube Goldberg machine. There was a big black box mounted on to with a big toggle switch that would let him go into a fuzz tone. He would take a steel [solo] break, then hit the switch, and all of a sudden it would sound like a Telecaster" electric guitar.

In 1970 he featured on the Delaney Bramlett disc To Bonnie From Delaney before being a mainstay of the Flying Burrito Brothers disc Burrito Deluxe and their 1971 self-titled disc and Byrds album Byrdmaniax.


Kleinow became an in demand session player and left the Flying Burrito Brothers after Parsons death on September 19, 1973.

"I remember Gram as a smiling, happy guy, who made many people happy and I appreciated his music," Kleinow recalled.

"I was very glad to have him for a mate in the band. Gram was just a very sweet guy, and it was too bad we lost him so early."

Kleinow worked with artists diverse as John Lennon, Frank Zappa, Jackson Browne, Little Feat, Stevie Wonder, Linda Ronstadt and Steve Miller.

"I recorded with John Lennon in New York and also did various sessions with him in Los Angeles," Kleinow recalled.

"Linda Ronstadt comes to mind right off the bat. We did a lot of work with Linda. Gosh, there are so many of them, I can hardly count on my hands how many people we worked with."

In 1974 he briefly joined Blue Steel before re-joining Flying Burrito Brothers in 1975 for their disc Flying Again.

He also performed on 1976's Airborne and 1978's Live In Tokyo before cutting his self titled solo disc in 1978.

After he played on 1981 Burritos disc Hearts On The Line he withdrew from music to concentrate on special effects for movies.

And in 1994 he released solo disc The Legend And The Legacy and led a new Burritos line-up on a tour of Europe.


Sneaky Pete also played on 1988 disc Wheels - A Tribute to Gram Parsons and Clarence White.
The band, formed by John Beland who toured Australia in 1983 with Gib Guilbeau as The Burrito Brothers, recorded under the name of Swampwater.

Sneaky Pete joined Beland, Guilbeau, Larry Murray, Bobby Bare, Freddy Weller, Thad Maxwell, Will Roberts, Chris James, Larry Patton and Rick Lonow.

Two live Flying Burrito Brothers tracks recorded in Dayton, Ohio, were added to the album.

In 1988/89 Beland was working with Bare and his band Pulleybone when a promoter in Europe asked the Flying Burrito Brothers to reunite for a series of dates in France and Spain.

The band included Beland, Guilbeau, Sneaky Pete, Patton and Lonow.

They played the gig in France with Foster & Lloyd.

During this tour a live album was recorded.


Sneaky Pete played on White On White - the 1976 solo album by veteran Australian country singer Brian Cadd who blazed a trail with Axiom, The Groop, Bootleg Family Band and Avalanche.

In 1991 another incarnation featured Beland, Guilbeau, Sneaky Pete, Chris Etheridge, Australian country rocker Brian Cadd and Poco drummer George Grantham.

They recorded six demos but it took two more years until the album was released in 1993.

Cadd was heavily involved as singer and songwriter.

Ronnie Tutt, Elvis Presley's former band member, was guesting on drums instead of George Grantham.

Eye Of A Hurricane was recorded during summer of 1993 in Franklin, Tennessee.

The title track album appeared a couple of years later on two compilation CD's issued in the UK.

The Burritos, without Sneaky Pete, did a six-week Australia/Hawaii tour in January and February of 2000.

In Australia the Burritos shared some of the 30 dates with Amazing Rhythm Aces but also played Tamworth Country Music Festival.


Sneaky Pete and Hudson also played in a California band Greg Humphrey and the Shut Outs before forming Burrito Deluxe.

"We played the Palomino many times, you know the Palomino that's no longer there apparently, and was an old club," Hudson revealed in a recent interview.

"Didn't we open for Jerry Lee Lewis?"
KLEINOW: Oh yes.
HUDSON: Those were the days. Pete and I played every gig with Jo El Sonnier - a master accordion player and the best of the Cajun singers."


Sneaky Pete vividly recalled working on Gumby when his musical and animation careers verged.

"It was messy, you got clay all over your fingers and everything like that, but at the end of the day I could just stomp on him and feel better," Kleinow revealed in a 2004 interview.

"Oh, I animated The Terminator as he's raging down the hallway and all his skin is torn off and burned and so forth and so on, I did all that. A large miniature of animation, they don't do it that way anymore. You've heard about digital I hope.

He downplayed his animation expertise as being a renaissance man.

"Well you could say that. I guess that's a little flowery, but yeah, we did do a lot of work like that with all those animated effects I worked on for many years with various people," he confessed.

"It was a lot of fun and I stopped when digital came in with a big huff and a puff. I didn't want to do digital anymore. I turned back on to music and doing all these things simultaneously. It was a lot of work, but it was a lot of fun."

Pete also worked on the Pillsbury Doughboy commercials and numerous other films and advertisements


"This is so sad, there just aren't any words to tell how sorry I am to hear about Pete's passing," said Skip Edwards who toured Australia with Dwight Yoakam in 1996.

"Like so many other players here and elsewhere, he was a source of much inspiration for me, and huge influence in my playing.

"There is now a huge void in the steel world, and we may never see the likes of a Sneaky Pete again. He really was a man alone on a mountaintop sticking with his tuning and his 8 string Fender when the rest of the steel world around him was flocking to E9 and C6 on their Sho-Buds and Emmons'. He carved out his own style and gave us a different way to approach pedal steel and the way it could be played."

Edwards vividly recalled his last live gig with Kleinow.

"One of the last times I played with Sneaky, (myself on piano) was at the Palomino, in the house band on one of the talent nights," Edwards recalled.

"Cliffie Stone was the MC and when he introduced Pete to the audience he asked him to play
a little Hawaiian tune, and Pete proceeded to play some of the sweetest, most authentic Hawaiian steel guitar I've ever heard. It was surprising to hear that coming from him, but knowing the calibre of musician he was, I guess it shouldn't have been a surprise at all."

Nashville journalist and musician Pete Cooper elaborated.

"As a steel player, his sound was a trippy take on the instrument, fusing hippified looseness, some experimental turns, a healthy sense of humour and bits of hard twang," Cooper wrote.

"He routinely traded in non-traditional sounds, his instrument often sounding as much like a lead electric guitar as a pedal steel."


All credits for pedal steel guitar unless otherwise noted


1974 Sneaky Pete Kleinow- Cold Steel
1979 Sneaky Pete Kleinow - Sneaky Pete
1994 Sneaky Pete Kleinow- Legend & The Legacy


1968 Dillard & Clark - Fantastic Expedition of Dillard & Clark
1969 Blessing, Lynn - Sunset Painter
1969 Gross, Henry - Henry Gross
1969 Cocker, Joe- Joe Cocker!
1969 Flying Burrito Brothers - Gilded Palace Of Sin - guitar
1969 Dillard & Clark - Through The Morning, Through The Night
1969 Mother Hen - Mother Hen
1970 Bramlett, Delaney - To Bonnie From Delaney
1970 Hedge & Donna - Special Circumstances
1970 Potter-St. Cloud - Potter St. Cloud
1970 Flying Burrito Brothers - Burrito Deluxe
1971 Flying Burrito Brothers - Flying Burrito Brothers
1971 Byrds - Byrdmaniax
1971 Cherokee - Cherokee
1971 Ellington, Marc - Rains / Reins Of Change
1971 Jones, Booker T. - Booker T & Priscilla
1971 Kooper, Al - New York City (You're A Woman)
1971 McGuire, Barry- Barry McGuire & The Doctor
1971 Seemon & Marijke - Son Of America
1971 Hill Barbara & Chris - L A Getaway
1971 Reddy, Helen - Helen Reddy
1971 Farina, Richard and Mimi - Mimi Farina & Tom Jans
1971 Joel, Billy - Cold Spring Harbor
1971 Little Feat - Little Feat
1971 Mitchell, Joni - Blue
1971 Ronstadt, Linda - Linda Ronstadt
1972 Davis, Spencer Group - Mousetrap
1972 Keith, Barbara - Barbara Keith
1972 Kelly, Casey - Casey Kelly
1972 Denny, Sandy - Sandy
1972 Getz, Jane - No Ordinary Child - arranger
1972 Keith, Barbara - Barbara Keith
1972 Browne, Jackson - Jackson Browne
1972 Clark, Gene - Roadmaster
1972 Coolidge, Rita - Lady's Not For Sale
1972 Little Feat - Sailin' Shoes
1972 Frank Zappa - Waka/Jawaka
1973 Crazy Horse - At Crooked Lake
1973 Phillips, Shawn - Faces
1973 Browne, Severin - Severin Browne
1973 Crowbar - Crowbar
1973 Dalton, Kathy - Amazing
1973 Kaz, Eric - Cul De Sac
1973 Spheeris, Jimmie - Original Tap Dancing Kid
1973 Bee Gees - Life In A Tin Can
1973 Browne, Jackson - For Everyman
1973 Lennon, John - Mind Games
1973 Little Feat - Dixie Chicken
1973 Miller, Steve - Joker
1973 Ronstadt, Linda - Don't Cry Now
1973 Ono, Yoko - Feeling The Space
1974 Brewer & Shipley - Brewer & Shipley
1974 Flying Burrito Brothers - Close Up The Honky-tonks
1974 Riperton, Minnie - Perfect Angel
1974 Cold Steel - Cold Steel
1974 Dinner, Michael - Great Pretender
1974 Flying Burrito Brothers - Honky Tonk Heaven
1974 Hagers - Hagers
1974 Melcher, Terry- Terry Melcher
1974 Phillips, Shawn - Bright White
1974 Talbot, John Michael - Talbot Brothers
1974 Dillard, Doug- Douglas Flint Dillard
1974 Howdy Moon - Howdy Moon
1974 Fleetwood Mac - Heroes Are Hard To Find
1974 Ronstadt, Linda - Heart Like A Wheel
1974 Wonder, Stevie - Fulfillingness' First Finale
1974 Nilsson, Harry - Pussy Cats
1975 Flying Burrito Brothers - Flying Again
1975 O'Keefe, Danny - So Long Harry Truman
1975 Hodge, Bob Catfish - Sop Opera's
1975 Benton, Barbi - Something New
1975 Dillard & Clark - Gene Clark & Doug Dillard
1975 Dollarhide, Roger - Righteous Rock Of Roger Dollarhide
1975 Simon, Carly - Playing Possum
1976 Parsons, Gram - Sleepless Nights
1976 Cadd, Brian - White On White
1976 Flying Burrito Brothers - Airborne
1976 Flying Burrito Brothers - Sleepless Nights
1976 Sedaka, Neil - Steppin' Out
1976 Ronstadt, Linda - Greatest Hits, Vol. 1
1976 Starr, Ringo - Ringo's Rotogravure
1976 Wonder, Stevie - Songs In The Key Of Life
1977 Phillips, Shawn - Spaced
1977 Silverado - Taking It All In Stride
1977 Soul, David - Playing To An Audience Of One
1977 Groce, Larry - Please Take Me Back
1977 Morse, Peter John - On The Shoreline
1977 Newton-John, Olivia - Making A Good Thing Better
1977 Sierra - Sierra
1977 Cocker, Joe - Joe Cocker's Greatest Hits
1977 Cohen, Leonard - Death Of A Ladies' Man
1978 Flying Burrito Brothers - Live From Tokyo
1978 Gale Force - Gale Force
1978 Millington - Ladies On The Stage
1979 Parrish, Paul - Song For A Young Girl [picture disc)
1979 Little Feat - Down On The Farm
1979 Gibson, Bob - Bob Gibson
1980 Jones, Tom - Rescue Me
1980 Lee, Johnny - Lookin' For Love
1980 Ltd - Shine On
1981 Battin, Skip - Navigator
1981 Flying Burrito Brothers - Hearts On The Line
1981 Kalapana - Alive
1982 Stanley, James Lee - Eclipse
1984 Battin, Skip - Don't Go Crazy
1985 Rave Ups - Town & Country - guitar
1985 Flying Burrito Brothers - Cabin Fever (artwork)
1986 Golden Palominos - Blast Of Silence
1986 Flying Burrito Brothers - Live From Europe (pedal steel, cover concept)
1986 Denny, Sandy - Who Knows Where The Time Goes
1987 Flying Burrito Brothers - Dim Lights, Thick Smoke & Loud, Loud Music
1988 Best Of Shiloh - Best Of Shiloh
1988 Flying Burrito Brothers - Farther Along: Best Of
1988 Cohen, Leonard - I'm Your Man
1989 Grapes Of Wrath - Now & Again
1989 Denny, Sandy - Best Of Sandy Denny [best of box]
1990 Fox, George - With All My Might
1990 Classic Country Music, Vol. 4
1990 Byrds - Byrds [box set]
1990 Chapman, Beth Nielsen - Beth Nielsen Chapman
1990 Flying Burrito Brothers - Hollywood Nights 1979-82
1991 Binder, Milo - Milo Binder
1991 Byrds - 20 Essential Tracks From The Boxed Set
1991 Flying Burrito Brothers - Close Encounters To The West Coast
1991 Flying Burrito Brothers - From Another Time
1992 Golden Palominos - History (1986-1989)
1992 Medicine - Shot Forth Self Living
1992 Ono, Yoko - Walking On Thin Ice compilation
1992 Ono, Yoko - Ono Box
1993 Womack, Bobby - Midnight Mover
1993 Lemonheads - Come On Feel The Lemonheads
1994 Flying Burrito Brothers - Eye Of A Hurricane
1995 Gaines, Rosie - Closer Than Close
1995 Phil's Harmonic Orchestra - Sweet Coralia
1995 Olney, David - High, Wide And Lonesome
1995 Flying Burrito Brothers - Tribute To Gram Parsons
1996 Mitchell, Joni - Hits
1996 Ringer, Jim - Best Of Jim Ringer: Band Of Jesse James
199? Flying Burrito Brothers - Sin City
1999 Frank Zappa - Son Of Cheep Thrills
Gibson, Jon [gospel] - Standing On The One
Hurley, Arthur & Gottli - Sunlight Shinin'
Brooks, Denny - Denny Brooks
Griffith, Glenda - Glenda Griffith
Lieberman, Lori - Piece Of Time
Moore, Daniel - Daniel Moore
Nolan, Kenny - Song Between Us
Parker, Wayne - Oklahoma Twilight

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