Her friend Duncan Phillips came by to tell me, and her brother Jim also called, as did her long time friend and fellow performer, Gino Sky. She had been ill for quite some time now and had been living in Reno with her daughter, far away from the cabin her father built in Grimes Creek. Funny, Jim told me that the road to Grimes Creek flooded out this spring, as if the river knew its mistress was gone and never coming back.
How many of us have made that pilgrimage over the years, to see her in her lair, the cabin her father built at the end of the road alongside Grimes Creek, where Rosalie dwelled. Rosalie’s story, her heart, her life, and her troubles are far too big to cover in a brief memento mori like this one. And although she died elsewhere, her spirit will always inhabit Grimes Creek.
Hunter S. Thompson traveled the path to Grimes Creek. Rosalie knew him from his Kentucky gentleman days, long before his first book, Hell’s Angels came out , and long before he became the crazed gonzo journalist that we know him by today. I have it on good authority that Rose could drink with Hunter all night long and then go and cook breakfast for a houseful of people the next morning.
Ken Kesey and his Merry Pranksters, drove Further, the Magic Bus, to Grimes Creek to pay homage to Rosalie. As did many, many other musicians, authors, artists and friends. Over the years. Rose’s legendary fandangos were not to be missed. They went on for days and days, some lasting a week or more. The music was playing live off a homemade stage Gino Sky built, twenty four hours a day. The whiskey, the poetry and the music all flowed down the throats into the ears and the hearts and minds of those who came and drank the wine. Rosalie seemingly knew everyone in the music, literary and art scene from the 1950s to the 21st century.
I first met Rosalie Sorrels in the 1970s, in the Cosmic Aeroplane days, through her longtime musical partner and friend, Utah Phillips. We sponsored the pair at a concert at East High, but the police dusted off an old arrest warrant for Phillips, and we had to bail him out of jail, so he could join Rosalie on the stage. I don’t think we ever told Rosalie. Rosalie graced my book shop with her presence on many occasions over the years, performing solo, and with old friends like the poet Gino Sky, and with many of the poets of the Limberlost Press out of Idaho.
I loved to hear her sing the song, “Waltzing With Bears” There was a stained glass window at Grimes Creek celebrating that song. Jefferson Starship recorded a Rosalie Sorrels tune, “The Baby Tree.”
I have a photo of Rose that she autographed “Rosario Bizarrio the Outlaw Queen” hanging in my downtown Salt Lake book shop. Those who knew her well, will know what that means. Rose could be, and usually was, a handful.
She was a great lady with a great musical talent, and I wanted to honor her with a few brief memories.
Love from Ken Sanders