Retrospective: Sneaky Pete Kleinow (1934 – 2007)

Posted: June 20, 2013 in Country Music, Rock Music
Tags: , , , , ,

Sneaky Pete Kleinow

One of the regular  readers of The Eclectic Ear mentioned Sneaky Pete Kleinow.  I had almost forgotten about this un-sung hero of the pedal steel guitar who was not only a member of The Flying Burrito Brothers but also played on countless tracks on some of the most well-known albums in rock history.

Sneaky Pete collaborated with artists such as The Byrds, Stevie Wonder, The Rolling Stones, Spencer Davis, Joe Cocker, The Eagles, The Everly Brothers, Jackson Browne, George Harrison, The Steve Miller Band, Joni Mitchell, Ringo Starr, and Linda Ronstadt to name a few.

Born in South Bend, IN he took up the pedal steel in high school.  He actually started out in the early ’60’s as a stop-film animator and a visual effects artist out in Hollywood before meeting Chris Hillman and Gram Parsons (of The Byrds) on the club circuit.  Pete was playing pedal steel in a country band and when Hillman and Parsons ran into a dispute with Roger McGuinn they decided to form The Flying Burrito Brothers.

Not quite the wild party guy that characterized the rest of the FBB and disillusioned about not being part of the band’s creative process, Pete left the band in 1971 and became a widely regarded session player.


He was in a few different bands along the way including a reformed FBB outfit and continued a career that put him at the top of the list of go-to pedal steel players. He also had a number of solo projects.

He died in 2007 at a convalescent home after a battle with Alzheimer’s Disease.



Sneaky Pete Tracks

  1. Short Biographical Film
  2. “I Fall To Pieces” – Linda Ronstadt (cover of the Patsy Cline song)
  3. “Makes No Difference” – solo work (cover of The Band composition)
  4. “It Might Just Be A One Shot Deal” – Frank Zappa
  5. “Six Days on the Road” – Flying Burrito Brothers (at Altamont)
  6. “Tried So Hard” – Flying Burrito Brothers (Gram Parsons tune)


  1. Cheers for the post, Tim. Pete was brilliant, and very much an unsung hero, as you say.


  2. Excellent summary, Tim, Thoroughly enjoyed reliving it all and what a varied life and talented man. Nice work ( by you) and by Sneaky Pete ( he lit a spark in me and fired up my love of country rock).


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