Special effects wizard "Sneaky" Pete Kleinow, who was known widely for his pedal steel guitar work with Gram Parsons and The Flying Burrito Brothers, died on Saturday morning (Jan. 6, 2007), from complications brought on by Alzheimer's disease in a nursing facility in Petaluma, California. He was 72.
His daughter Anita confirmed his death saying that he had been living with the disease for more than 18 months and it "hit him hard and fast."
Born in South Bend, Indiana, on Aug. 20, 1934, he took up steel guitar after graduating from high school. In 1963, he moved to Los Angeles and worked on special effects for films and performed on the local music scene at night. He also found work writing jingles and wrote the theme music for the children's series GUMBY and animated for DAVEY & GOLIATH. He met Gram Parsons and Chris Hillman at a local L.A. venue where they invited him to join the Byrds. He performed with the band for a brief period of time before Parsons and Hillman established The Flying Burrito Brothers and together with "Sneaky" Pete recorded their debut album THE GILDED PALACE OF SIN.
He returned to special effects once again in 1981, and was responsible for creating special effects for movies such as THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK, GREMLINS, THE TERMINATOR and TERMINATOR 2 while continuing to work as a musician.
The family has not yet announced funeral arrangements but cards, letters and donations are welcome at:
"Sneaky" Pete Kleinow 69229 Rainier Road 29 Palms, California 92277