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The International Submarine Band

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The International Submarine Band was formed by country rock pioneer Gram Parsons and John Nuese, a guitar player for local rock group, The Trolls. Nuese is largely credited with having persuaded Parsons to pursue the country-rock sound he would later be remembered for when the two first started The International Submarine Band (“ISB”). Parsons’ work with the band predates his better known ventures with The Byrds and The Flying Burrito Brothers, and with the Fallen Angels with Emmylou Harris.

In 1965, Parsons enrolled at Harvard University to study theology. Never a serious student, Parsons immediately set about establishing himself as a presence on the local folk music scene. Parsons’ first band, which he named The Like, featured only Parsons and students from the Berklee College of Music. Given that Parsons was interested in pursuing a career as a folksinger at this time, his bandmates’ jazz training proved incompatible with Parsons’s musical aspirations. The group disbanded late in 1965, when Parsons met John Nuese, a guitarist with another local group called the Trolls, who convinced the singer to pursue an explicit country rock sound.

According to Nuese: “I was the only one with experience playing and listening to a lot of country music. Gram, who had been exposed to country music during his formative years, was doing commercial folk music. It was my influence that turned him onto country music.” Sufficiently impressed with what he heard, and more interested in “chasing tail and dropping LSD” than completing his degree, Parsons dropped out of Harvard before his first semester was over.

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