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Steel Guitar Hall of Fame
Steel Guitar Hall of Fame
The concept for a Steel Guitar Hall of Fame originated in the early 1970s when Nashville steel guitarist Jim Vest suggested the award as recognition for persons advancing the instrument. Jim intended to implement the award program, but his session work and touring schedule prevented his follow-through. By mutual agreement between Jim and DeWitt Scott, "Scotty" inaugurated the Steel Guitar Hall of Fame and located its headquarters in St. Louis, Missouri. The first Hall of Fame induction occurred in 1978. One or more persons have been inducted each year since then.
The Steel Guitar Hall Of Fame, Inc.
9535 Midland Blvd.
St. Louis, MO. 63114-3314
Phone: 314-427-7794 Fax: 314-427-0516
As a child Jerry developed a passion for Hawaiian music but actually began performing in the field of country music on a local radio station between 1935 and 1937. After a short time on Cincinnati's WLW he joined the Renfro Valley Barn Dance in 1941. A year later he moved to WJR in Detroit, staying there for three years before he signed on with Ernie Lee's Pleasant Valley Boys in 1944. Byrd remained with Lee until 1946, eventually forming his own group, the Jay-Bird Trio. In 1948 he joined Red Foley's band and started doing session work at King Records. While at King Jerry recorded his first 78 titled "Steelin' the Blues". Byrd also recorded a handful of Hawaiian songs and through the following years this music became his main focus. In 1950 Jerry became a regular on Foley's NBC television program, and from 1954 to 1956 he was featured on the Nashville-based series Home Folks. Byrd spent the next eight year on a program called Country Junction, then in 1964 he went to work for Bobby Lord's TV band. In 1968 Jerry quit country music for good and moved to Hawaii concentrating on his lifelong passion of the state's native music.
BORN: MARCH 9, 1920 LIMA, OHIO
DIED: APRIL 11, 2005
Leon McAuliffe started playing both acoustic and steel guitar at the age of 14. In 1931 he join the Hawaiian Strummers, a Hawaiian-style group and began to perfect his style on steel guitar. In 1933, he joined the early Western swing band the Light Crust Doughboys. While with the Doughboys, Leon found a major influence in Milton Brown's steel guitarist Bob Dunn, who taught him how to electrically amplify his instrument. In 1935 Leon made his name as a member of Bob Wills' Texas Playboys. One of Bob's earliest recordings was "Steel Guitar Rag," an instrumental showcase that McAuliffe had adapted from bluesman Sylvester Weaver's "Guitar Rag." The recording made Leon a star and established him as the standard-setter on the instrument. McAuliffe remained with the Texas Playboys until in late 1942 he was called for service in World War II, as a flight instructor.
After the war, McAuliffe decided to form his own band, which he dubbed the Cimarron Boys. The group played on a Tulsa radio station. McAuliffe signed a contract with Columbia, and McAuliffe's instrumental showcase "Panhandle Rag" became a Top Ten hit in 1949. During the sixties Leon recorded for a variety of labels, including Dot, Capitol, and Starday. As western swing stated to fade he performed mostly on a local basis and purchased a radio station in Rogers, AR. Leon played on a reunion recording with Bob Wills in 1973 and led occasional Texas Playboy reunions following Wills' death.
BORN: JANUARY 3, 1917 HOUSTON, TEXAS
DIED: AUGUST 20, 1988
Alvino Rey is best known as the father of the pedal steel guitar. His inventive style helped popularize the instrument. Rey grew up in Oakland and moved to Cleveland, Ohio, at age ten. He first became interested in music when he received a banjo as a birthday gift. In 1927 he made his professional debut with Ev Jones and a year later signed with Phil Spitalny. He eventually switched to guitar and adopted the name Alvino Rey in 1929 while performing in New York City. There he worked for Russ Morgan and Freddie Martin before joining Horace Heidt's band in 1935. With Heidt, Rey switched to the pedal steel guitar (which he later modified and called a console guitar) and quickly became popular for his unique sound.
Rey moved to Los Angeles and formed his own band in 1939 with the King Sisters as star vocalists. The group began touring the country and eventually found refuge in New Jersey at the Rustic Cabin, where they were broadcast over radio station WOR. Rey was well-known for playing Latin and Hawaiian music (two styles he later grew to hate).
In 1941 Rey's group substituted for Dinah Shore at New York's Paramount Theater, this led to more exposure, making them one of the most popular acts in the country, with top ten hits and appearances in Hollywood films. In 1942 Rey reorganized his orchestra which included such future stars as Ray Conniff, Neal Hefti, Billy May, Johnny Mandel, and Zoot Sims. Though considered one of the best bands of all time by critics, the musicians' union recording ban of 1943 meant they were never able to record. Rey officially dissolved the group in 1944 and enlisted in the Navy, there forming a service band.
After his discharge in late 1945 Rey formed a new orchestra, which produced a few hits before being disbanded in 1950. Rey toured with small combos throughout the rest of the decade. Rey continued to perform well into his eighties.
BORN: JULY 1, 1908 OAKLAND, CALIFORNIA
DIED: February 24, 2004
A South Ben native, Remington began his steel playing while in high school although he played piano at the age of five. After high school graduation, Remington headed west for Los Angeles in 1944 to join a Hawaiian band but there weren't any openings so Herb played with various Western Swing bands before he was drafted into the Army. Remington was stationed at Fort Bragg in North Carolina and while there he put together a group to play officers' and service clubs
After serving his country during World War II, in 1946 he went to California to audition for Luke Wills' (Bob's brother) band, but Bob Wills hired him for his own band and he played that night at the Santa Monica Ballroom on Santa Monica Pier. Remington's first gig was one of the now-legendary battles of the bands that pitted Wills against Spade Cooley's Western Swing orchestra. The next day Remington left with the Texas Playboys on a three month tour. Herb left the Texas Playboys in 1950, working briefly with T Texas Tyler and Hank Penny (Remington and Penny cut the instrumental "Remington Ride") before moving to Houston with his wife, Melba.
Since 1978, Remington has been a retailer of steel guitars and builds his own line of steel and pedal steel guitars. He still plays and teaches with regularity in the Houston area and plays a few shows a month with the Playboys II.
BORN: JUNE 9, 1926 MISHAWAKA, INDIANA
Sol played ukulele, guitar and Hawaiian steel guitar and was claimed by many to be the all-time best on the lap-steel guitar. He is without any doubt one the most famous original Hawaiian steel guitarists, along with Joe Kekuku, Frank Ferera, Sam Ku West and Ben "King" Nawahi.
Sol began playing with the Johnny Noble's Orchestra and then, in 1919 , together with his brothers, worked on a Matsonia Line ocean liner. Sol settled in San Francisco, CA. in 1922 and later moved to Los Angeles where he formed the Sol Hoopii Trio, with Glenwood Leslie and Lani McIntyre. His first recordings in 1925-28 featured often jazzy improvisation.
He recorded his best known material 1933 to 1938, as Sol Hoopii's "Novelty Trio", "Novelty Quartette" and "Novelty Five" on Decca and Brunswick labels.
Preferring the acoustic lap-steel guitar, he reluctantly switched to electric lap steel around 1935 and developed an original tuning, in addition to the open A or open G tunings commonly in use at the time. His peculiar rhythmic, harmonic and melodic techniques influenced not only hawaiian-styled musicians but also famed country and western swing steel guitarists, like Joaquin Murphy and Jerry Byrd.
He performed since 1924-25 in hollywooden "jazz" movies like "His Jazz Bride",and later he was involved into the "exotic" movies craze, appearing notably in "Bird of Paradise","Waikiki Wedding", and even some Charlie Chan mystery movies.
He also performed in the soundtrack for the Betty Boop cartoon "Betty's Bamboo Isle".
In 1938, Hoopii partially gave up his career to join the evangelist AimÃ©e S. McPherson.
BORN: 1902 HONOLULU, HAWAII
Earl "Joaquin" Murphey was discovered by Spade Cooley's band as a teenager. Working with Cooley, he contributed outstanding solos to numbers such as "Three Way Boogie" and "Oklahoma Stomp". He also recorded incredible instrumental solos on tunes like "Honeysuckle Rose" and "Sweet Georgia Brown" as part of the cowboy vocal group Andy Parker and the Plainsmen, where he was a featured soloist. Joaquin Murphey's chosen instrument is the lap steel but He did some recording on pedal steel guitar. He played on the recordings of T. Texas Tyler, Spade Cooley, Tex Williams, Roy Rogers, Andy Parker and the Plainsmen, Smokey Rogers, and a few others. Murphey is a major inspiration to Buddy Emmons, Vance Terry, and others who have attempted to put some jazz/swing feeling into their playing.
Murphey has recorded very little since the 50s (effectively just one LP, on pedal steel guitar). He spent all of his career in Southern California working primarily with dance bands rather than playing on recording sessions. Staying in Los Angeles and the lack of solo recordings affected his visibility with the average country fan and casual steel fan. Probably only Jerry Byrd among mainland artists is held in similar regard as a lap player.
BORN: DECEMBER 30, 1923 HOLLYWOOD, CALIFORNIA
DIED: OCTOBER 25, 1999
Wesley "Speedy" West became interested in music at the age of 9 largely due to the influence of his friends. West's father bought him a cheap Hawaiian guitar and with he help of his friends spent most of his time learning to play the instrument.
Sometime around 1942 West moved to Strafford, MO, near Springfield. There he worked on his father's farm during the war. After the war ended, West continued to farm, developing his music skills along the way.
Wesley began to play the steel locally on jam sessions that were broadcast over KWTO radio in Springfield. Wesley got his nickname while he was playing at a jam session sponsored by KWTO when Slim Wilson, a local country music personality introduced him as "Speedy West".
In 1946, he began to think about pursuing a musical career and along with his wife and child, moved to Los Angeles, CA.
In 1948, Spade Cooley hired Speedy. At the time, Cooley also hosted the Hoffman Hayride TV variety show, broadcast by KTLA on Saturday nights After Cooley, Speedy played at the Riverside Rancho in the Shambrock Cowboys band and iIt was about this time that friends familiar with the talents of Speedy, introduced him to Cliffie Stone, assistant A&R man for Capitol Records. Speedy's first recording session was with Eddie Kirk who sang "Candy Kisses". Beginning in early 1949, Speedy began working full time doing recording sessions.
Speedy joined the Hank Penny western swing band in early 1949. Late 1949, Speedy left Penny when he was hired by Cliffie Stone for his daily radio program, Dinner Bell Round-Up, as well as Cliffie's Saturday night dances at El Monte Legion Stadium. In December 1949, Cliffie Stone took his show to TV. The shows were broadcast over KLAC-TV.
In 1950, Speedy's steel guitar career and reputation were given a major boost following a recording session with Tennessee Ernie Ford and Kay Starr.
Between 1950 and 1955, Speedy played on over 6,000 recordings with a total of 177 different artists.
In 1960 Speedy met Loretta Lynn and her husband Mooney in a recording studio in L.A. and helped her to record her classic hit "Honky Tonk Girl". Later that year opportunities for country musicians began to dry up in the L.A. area and he took a job with Fender Musical Instruments as manager of their warehouse in Tulsa, OK
In 1963, the LeGarde Twins invited Speedy to Australia, he spent 44 days performing on the Twins' country TV shows, as well as appearances at various events, TV and radio stations.
In 1967, Speedy traveled to Japan to represent Fender at the International Trade Fair. While in that country, he also performed for various other events.
In addition to being a member of the Steel Guitar Hall of Fame, Speedy is also a member of the Rockabilly Hall of Fame.
BORN: JANUARY 25, 1924 SPRINGFIELD, MISSOURI
DIED: NOVEMBER 15, 2003
Noel Boggs learned to play the steel guitar in junior high school, and worked for three radio stations in the Oklahoma City area while still in high school. In 1936, he joined Hank Penny's Radio Cowboys and toured the southern and eastern United States. He returned to Oklahoma City and joined WKY radio as a performer, also recording at this time with Wiley and Gene. In 1941, he started his own band, and played in the Oklahoma City area for the next three years.
In 1944, Leon McAuliffe left Bob Wills and His Texas Playboys to form his own band, the Cimmaron Boys. His good friend Noel Boggs became his replacement, appearing on many of the Tiffany Transcriptions, as well as on the hits "Texas Playboy Rag", "Roly Poly", "Stay A Little Longer" and "New Spanish Two Step".
In 1946, Noel left the Playboys for an extended booking at the Hollywood Palladium. He rejoined Wills, then left again and joined Spade Cooley, the King of Western Swing. He stayed with Spade Cooley's Dance Band until 1954. After that he formed his own quintet, playing throughout California and Nevada as well as on USO tours.
Boggs was a close friend of famed jazz guitarist Charlie Christian. Together with guitarists Jimmy Wyble and Cameron Hill, he would take Christian's solos note for note from such tunes as "Flying Home" or "Good Enough To Keep" and create arrangements for three guitars. Boggs was one of the first people to jump from one neck to another in the middle of a solo. He was also famed for his ability to play piano-style block chords, both as accompaniment and within his own solos.
Noel's first steel guitar was a Rickenbacker. In 1946 he met Leo Fender while working with Spade Cooley at the Santa Monica Ballroom. He became the proud owner of Fender's first steel guitar and an important endorser and promoter of Fender's equipment. The friendship between Noel Boggs and Leo Fender was such that Leo Fender was the godfather of Noel's daughter Sandy.
During his life, Noel Boggs appeared on some 2,000 recordings as a soloist, with Bob Wills, Spade Cooley, Jimmy Wakely, Hank Penny, Bill Boyd, Sheb Wooley, Les Anderson, Merle Travis and the Cass County Boys. He worked on the radio with Roy Rogers, Gene Autry and the Sons of the Pioneers. He made regular television appearances with Spade Cooley and on Jimmy Wakely's television show. His motion picture work included appearances in Rhythm Roundup, Blazing the Western Trail, Lawless Empire, Frontier Frolic, Everybody's Dancin', and Out West Teenagers.
BORN: NOVEMBER 14, 1917 OKLAHOMA CITY, OKLAHOMA
DIED: OCTOBER 1974
Buddy Emmons earned a place among Nashville's elite as one of the finest steel guitar players in the business. Born in Mishawaka, IN, he first fell in love with the instrument at age 11 when he received a 6-string lap steel guitar as a gift. As a teen, he enrolled at the Hawaiian Conservatory of Music in South Bend, IN, and began playing professionally in Calumet City and Chicago at age 16. In 1956, Emmons went to Detroit to fill in for Walter Haynes during a performance with Little Jimmy Dickens; soon afterward he was invited to join Dickens' Country Boys. He appeared with them a few times on the Grand Ole Opry and recorded with them on a few singles, including "Buddy's Boogie" (1957). He also recorded a pair of solo singles for Columbia, "Cold Rolled Steel" (1956) and "Silver Bells" (1957).
In the late '50s, Emmons began playing occasionally with Ernest Tubb's band on Midnight Jamboree. In 1963, he began a five year stint with Ray Price and his Cherokee Cowboys, and in 1965 teamed up with fellow steel player Shot Jackson to record the LP Steel Guitar & Dobro Sound. This led the two to create the Sho-Bud Company, which sold an innovative steel guitar that used push-rod pedals. In 1969, Emmons joined Roger Miller's Los Angeles-based band as a bass player. When not touring with Miller, he did session work for a variety of artists. He quit Miller's band in 1973 and signed a solo contract, releasing several albums in the late '70s. After 1978, Emmons began playing for a number of small labels, where he and Ray Pennington occasionally collaborated with some of Nashville's finest side men as the Swing Shift Band. In 1993, Emmons began touring with the Everly Brothers. Throughout the '90s, he continued to do session work.
BORN: JANUARY 27, 1937 MISHAWAKA, INDIANA
Along with Shot Jackson and Buddy Emmons, legendary sideman Jimmy Day stood among the finest steel guitarists ever to grace country music; "Mr. Country Soul," he and his guitar, the legendary Blue Darlin', lent their artistry to records from performers ranging from Webb Pierce to Ray Price to Willie Nelson. Born January 9, 1934, in Tuscaloosa, AL, Day harbored dreams of a career in country music from childhood onward; his initial attempts to learn guitar proved frustrating, however, when he faced considerable difficulty with his fretwork. His problems were solved in 1949, when he saw Jackson providing steel support for the Bailes Brothers; that Christmas, Day received his first steel guitar, and by the age of 16 he was regularly performing at area honky tonk shows.
After graduating high school, in 1951 Day successfully auditioned for the Louisiana Hayride radio program; he soon began working with Pierce, with whom he recorded his first sessions. He soon introduced Pierce to pianist Floyd Cramer, whom Day had known since junior high; these sessions produced the Pierce smash "This Heart Belongs to Me," which hit number one just prior to Day's 18th birthday. In the spring of 1952, he also began a six-month stint backing Hank Williams; in November -- less than two months before his tragic death -- Williams asked Day to join a new band he planned to assemble in the year to follow. In the wake of the tragedy, Day worked with Red Sovine and Jim Reeves, and overdubbed a handful of posthumous Williams recordings. He also appeared on Mitchell Torok's 1953 hit "Caribbean."
With the advent of pedal steel guitar in 1954, Day began moving away from lap steel during a tenure with Lefty Frizzell; among his final sessions playing lap steel was a Louisiana Hayride date backing Elvis Presley. In early 1955 Presley assembled a backing band comprised of Day, Cramer, guitarist Scotty Moore, bassist Bill Black, and drummer D.J. Fontana that remained his supporting unit for much of the year; when Presley relocated to Hollywood he invited the band to join him, but both Day and Cramer declined in order to pursue careers with the Grand Ole Opry. In 1956 Day switched permanently to pedal steel and appeared on Ray Price's "Crazy Arms"; he soon relocated to Nashville to join Price's band, the Cherokee Cowboys, and by extension became a member of the Opry. He also convinced Jackson to begin manufacturing his own pedal steel guitars, and soon the Sho-Bud, the first classic electric pedal steel, hit the market; with it came Day's first steel to bear the Blue Darlin' name.
In 1955 Day cut his first instrumental single, "Rippin' Out"; over the next two years he toured extensively with Pierce and also appeared infrequently with the Cherokee Cowboys, Ernest Tubb's Texas Troubadors, and Jim Reeves' Blue Boys. In 1959, Day rejoined Price, where he was teamed with a young bassist named Willie Nelson; when Nelson broke from Price three years later, he took Day with him. By 1963 Day also began performing with George Jones, and released his debut solo LP, Steel and Strings. In the years to follow he tenured with the likes of Ferlin Husky, Leon Russell, Clay Baker, Charlie Louvin, and Don Walser, and also cut a number of records, including All Those Years, For Jimmy Day Fans Only, and Jimmy Day and the Texas Outlaw Jam Band.
BORN: JANUARY 9, 1934 TUSCALOOSA, ALABAMA
DIED: JANUARY 22, 1999
DICK KAIHUE McINTIRE
Dick Kaihue McIntire was a motion picture soundtrack and recording artist from the 1930s to 1950. He has worked with such greats as Bing Crosby and Dorothy Lamour. McIntire was a bandleader, composer and profound inspiration to scores of steel guitarist who followed him. Dick was a master of purity, taste and expression.
BORN: APRIL 6, 1902 HONOLULU, HAWAII
DIED: MAY 20, 1951
Elbern H. "Eddie" Alkire was America's most recognized performer, teacher, and innovator of the twentieth-century Hawaiian guitar. Born and raised in rural West Virginia Alkire utilized his skills as a guitarist and musician to become a teacher and composer for Oahu Music Company in October 1929 after having traveled to Pittsburgh to study electrical machines as an employee for a West Virginia coal company. He became music director for the Oahu Seranaders which performed on over 1000 coast-to-coast broadcasts for NBC and CBS that aired from Cleveland, Ohio during the first years of network radio. In 1934 Alkire started his own company in Easton, Pennsylvania to publish music and teach guitar. Discover the genius of Eddie Alkire and learn how he utilized his knowledge of electricity to create the first 10-string electric Hawaiian guitar and his music background to create new tunings that enabled him to play four-part harmonies and rapid melodic passages that became the hallmark of his new style of performance.
BORN: DECEMBER 6, 1907 HACKER VALLEY, W. VIRGINIA
DIED: JANUARY 25, 1981
Along with Speedy West, Buddy Emmons, and Pete Drake, Ralph Mooney is one of the true steel guitar innovators in country music. He was born in Duncan, OK, and first became interested in the instrument after hearing another steel pioneer, Leon McAuliffe. As a teenager in the '40s, Mooney moved to California, where he gradually developed his style by exhaustive playing with numerous bands, in both live and studio situations. In the '50s and '60s, Mooney was hired as a staff musician for Capitol Records, where he played on the early recordings of Buck Owens and is heard prominently on several Merle Haggard hits, including "Swinging Doors," "The Bottle Let Me Down," and "(All My Friends Are Gonna Be) Strangers." Throughout the years, Mooney left his mark on recordings by Wynn Stewart (that's his steel on "It's Such a Pretty World Today"), Warren Smith, Rose Maddox, Skeets McDonald, Bobby Austin, Bonnie Owens, Wanda Jackson, Donna Fargo, and Jessi Colter. His longest running stint was with Waylon Jennings, whom Mooney joined in 1970 and stayed with until he retired in the early '90s. While Mooney is known mainly for his steel playing, he also dabbled in songwriting. His biggest hit was "Crazy Arms," which he co-wrote with Chuck Seals in the mid-'50s. Even though Mooney spent most of his life playing on the recordings of others, he did release an instrumental album on Capitol Records in 1968 called Corn Pickin' and Slick Slidin' with guitarist James Burton.
BORN: SEPTEMBER 16, 1928 DUNCAN, OKLAHOMA
The steel guitar of Don Helms is an essential element of more than 100 recordings by Hank Williams, including the country landmarks "Your Cheatin' Heart," "Cold, Cold Heart," and "I Can't Help It (If I'm Still in Love with You)." Following Williams' death, the guitarist also lent his signature sound to myriad Nashville classics including Patsy Cline's "Walking After Midnight," Ernest Tubb's "Letters Have No Arms," Loretta Lynn's "Success," and Stonewall Jackson's "Waterloo." Born in New Brockton, AB on February 28, 1927, Helms acquired his first Silvertone lap steel and amplifier at age 15 in emulation of his boyhood idol Leon McAuliffe, of Bob Wills & the Texas Playboys fame. At 17 he joined fledgling singer/songwriter Williams and his band the Drifting Cowboys, touring clubs and private parties across central and southern Alabama. In 1945, Helms joined the military, but upon returning to civilian life two years later he rejoined Williams, who in the interim signed on with publishing firm Acuff-Rose and landed a record deal with MGM. This incarnation of the Drifting Cowboys -- also featuring guitarist Bob McNett, bassist Hillous Butrum and fiddler Jerry Rivers -- proved its definitive lineup, backing Williams on radio's Louisiana Hayride as well as early hits like "Lovesick Blues" and "Wedding Bells." At the time Helms joined Williams, he was playing a Fender eight-string, double-neck steel guitar, but in 1950 he acquired a Gibson Console Grande (also an eight-string double neck), which he connected to a 1949 Fender Pro amp to forge the rich, resonant sound so essential to Williams' genre-defining honky tonk approach.
Despite their creative and commercial success, Williams' alcoholism and substance abuse careened out of control, and in October 1952 he was fired from radio's Grand Ole Opry. Weeks later, after the star's wedding to Billie Jean Jones Eshlimar at the New Orleans Municipal Auditorium, the Drifting Cowboys parted ways, citing Williams' penchant for ringing up bar tabs that exceeded what the band earned per performance. Following Williams' January 1, 1953 death, Helms toured in support of acts including Ray Price, Ferlin Husky, the Wilburn Brothers and Cal Smith while emerging as a first-call Nashville session player behind singers including Patsy Cline, Johnny Cash, and Brenda Lee; in 1963, he also signed to the Smash label to cut a pair of instrumental LPs, The Steel Guitar Sounds of Hank Williams and Don Helms' Steel Guitar. In addition Helms was a composer of some distinction, penning such oft-covered tunes as "Somebody's Back in Town," "Sweet Little Miss Blue Eyes," "Smoke Along the Track," and "That's What I Get for Loving You." For a time Helms toured behind Hank Williams Jr., and in 1977 joined a reincarnated Drifting Cowboys band. In late 1989, he also began an extended collaboration with Williams' daughter Jett. Inducted into the Steel Guitar Hall of Fame in 1984, Helms continued recording and touring even in the wake of a 1997 lawn mower mishap that cost him the tip of his picking pointer finger. He also found time to publish a memoir, Settin' the Woods on Fire: Confessions of Hank's Steel Guitar Player. The last surviving member of the classic Drifting Cowboys lineup,
BORN: FEBRUARY 28, 1927 NEW BROCKTON, ALABAMA
DIED: AUGUST 11, 2008
Isaacs was playing steel guitar professionally at the age of 16 and after playing on some local stations, he relocated to Nashville. He began to play on the Grand Ole Opry in 1951 with Eddie Hill, later joining Little Jimmy Dickens. In 1953, he was responsible for the addition of foot and knee pedals to a steel guitar. By careful footwork, he was able to vary the tension on individual strings and change the pitch of a single string so as to alter individual chords. His idea caused a sensation as it had previously been considered impossible to change anything less than an whole chord at one time. The first recording to feature his new invention was when Isaacs played it on Webb Pierce's hit recording of "Slowly" in 1954. (Jimmy Day had played steel on earlier versions by Pierce). His idea revolutionized the sound of steel guitars on country recordings and most of the leading exponents of the instrument soon followed his lead. He was much in demand for session work but he also made solo recordings that year for RCA Records, including his lilting "The Waltz You Saved For Me'. In 1955, he became a member of the Ozark Jubilee, appearing on radio and television programmes with the star, Red Foley. It has been recorded that Isaacs played on the 11 top country hits of the year in 1955. In 1958, Isaacs, with Chet Atkins, Homer Haynes, Jethro Burns (Homer And Jethro) and Dale Potter, recording as the Country All-Stars, cut String Dustin", a very up-tempo release. Isaacs married Geri Mapes, a yodeller, singer and bass player and they worked together with an act they called the Golden West Singers. They eventually retired to Arizona. Isaacs will always be remembered for his dazzling steel guitar playing, especially his catchy "Bud's Bounce". His 1955 RCA-Victor Records EP, Crying Steel Guitar, is now a highly prized collectable
BORN: MARCH 26, 1928 BEDFORD, INDIANA
"LITTLE" ROY WIGGINS
At age 13, Roy Wiggins joined Paul Howard's Arkansas Cotton Pickers on the Grand Ole Opry. Later, he joined Pee Wee King's Golden West Cowboys as a temporary replacement for Clell Summey.
Little Roy Wiggins is best known as being the steel guitar player for Eddy Arnold's band, the Tennessee Plowboys. Roy stayed with Arnold for 25 years
By the 1950s Roy Wiggins had become so well known that he was featured on instrumental records by Dot, Starday and a number of other labels.
By 1968 Roy Wiggins had achieved success in a number of outside businesses so he quit Eddy Arnold's band but continued to play on the Grand Ole Opry, backing acts such as Ernie Ashworth, the Willis Brothers and George Morgan.
BORN: JUNE 27, 1926 NASHVILLE, TENNESSEE
DIED: AUGUST 3, 1999
Harold Lee "Curly" Chalker began his professional career living and working out of Las Vegas, he became widely known as one of the best players in the West. In the '60s he was immediately hired for many recording sessions in Nashville. One producer was so impressed that he organized a project to present Chalker as a soloist in front of the Nashville Symphony Orchestra. Unfortunately, the resulting Counterpoint languished in the can for years, but was eventually released.
Chalker reached a huge audience playing steel guitar on the Hee Haw television series for 18 years. This provided more security than a string of one-nighters or even the Nashville studios, which was his second home up until his death in the late '90s. He played on vintage recording sessions by Lefty Frizzell in the early '50s. Chalker is the pedal steel player on Hank Thompson's epic hit "Wild Side of Life." He took part in the country instrumental sessions of harmonica virtuoso Charlie McCoy, contributed hot licks a session fronted by fiddler Buddy Spicher, headed for the Bayou when crazy Cajun Doug Kershaw came a callin', and was even open-minded enough to contribute to the Country Porn album by the largely forgotten Chinga Chavin. All in all, not a bad track
In addition to "Curly", Chalker has yet another nickname amongst pedal steel players, "the King of Chords." His mastery of various enhanced jazz chords is pretty much unrivaled among pedal steel players, few of whom have been able to figure out just how the man managed to insert these chords into backup licks.
Chalker was also in demand by the pop set, making largely uncredited appearances on some chart toppers. One such side is Marie Osmond's "Paper Roses," while mixed somewhere beneath the "lai-la-lai" tracks on Simon & Garfunkel's "The Boxer" is a trace of pedal steel. He played live or in the studio with Willie Nelson, the Gap Band, Ray Price, Leon Russell, and even rocked around the clock with the original Bill Haley and the Comets.
BORN: OCTOBER 22, 1931 ENTERPRISE, ALABAMA
DIED: APRIL 30, 1998
HAROLD "SHOT" JACKSON
One of the premier steel guitar and Dobro players of the postwar generation, Shot Jackson was a solo and session artist who also gained fame as a designer and manufacturer of musical instruments. Born Harold B. Jackson on September 4, 1920, in Wilmington, NC, he earned the nickname Buckshot -- later abbreviated to simply Shot -- while still a child. His interest in music also began at an early age, and he became a devoted fan of the Grand Ole Opry, in particular of Roy Acuff's Smoky Mountain Boys and their Dobro player, Bashful Brother Oswald. In 1941, Jackson joined the house band on a local country radio station, and in 1944, he moved to Nashville to sign on with the Opry as a sideman for Cousin Wilbur Westbrooks.
After a year in the Navy, Jackson began playing electric steel guitar with the Bailes Brothers and continued performing with the group throughout their tenure on the Shrevport, LA, station KWKH's Louisiana Hayride program. After the Bailes Brothers left the show, Jackson remained at KWKH, where he performed and recorded with the likes of Webb Pierce, Jimmie Osborne, and Red Sovine. In 1951, he joined Johnnie & Jack's Tennessee Mountain Boys, and over the next half-dozen years, he played Dobro on virtually all of the group's live dates and studio sessions. He also played on many of Kitty Wells' first hits, in addition to recording a few solo sides.
In 1957, Jackson fulfilled a personal dream by becoming the electric steel player for Acuff's Smoky Mountain Boys and remained with the group for five years. During his affiliation with Acuff, Jackson and Buddy Emmons designed an electric pedal steel guitar; to market it, they founded their own company, Sho-Bud. Gradually, the company's success began to absorb more and more of Jackson's time, and he left the Smoky Mountain Boys, although he did remain an active musician, particularly as a steel player for Melba Montgomery, who had also left Acuff to go solo some time before. In addition to working with Montgomery (on both her solo work and her duets with George Jones), he recorded with many other artists and even cut his own solo LP, Singing Strings of Steel Guitar and Dobro, in 1962.
Jackson rejoined Acuff full-time in 1964, but his tenure abruptly ended in July of 1965 when he, Acuff, and singer June Stearns were all sidelined by a near-fatal car crash. After a long recovery period, he began performing with his wife Donna Darlene, a former vocalist on the Jamboree program; in 1965, he also issued the solo record Bluegrass Dobro. His latest creation, a seven-string resonator guitar called the Sho-Bro, hit the market not long after, and again, Jackson distanced himself from music to focus on business. Still, he continued to play on occasion, rejoining the Bailes Brothers for a number of reunion concerts and recordings. He also hooked up with the Roy Clark Family Band for a pair of albums and appearances on the TV program Hee Haw. In 1980, Baldwin-Gretsch purchased Sho-Bud, and three years later, Jackson sold his instrument repair business as well. Soon after retirement, he suffered a stroke which left him unable to speak and play music.
BORN: SEPTEMBER 4, 1920 WILMINGTON, NORTH CAROLINA
DIED JANUARY 24,1991
One of the world's leading exponents of the steel guitar, Drake arrived in Nashville in the late 50s and was quickly established as one of the city's leading session musicians. His distinctive, mellow-toned style was heard on many releases, including those by Marty Robbins and Don Gibson. Drake also recorded in his own right and while billed as Pete Drake And His Talking Steel Guitar, he secured a US Top 30 hit in 1964 with "Forever". However, it was for continued studio work that Drake maintained his popularity, and he crossed over into the wider rock fraternity in the wake of his contributions to three Bob Dylan albums, John Wesley Harding, Nashville Skyline and Self Portrait, and to George Harrison's All Things Must Pass. The artist also produced Ringo Starr's C&W collection Beaucoups Of Blues, and assembled the stellar cast supporting the former Beatles drummer. During the 70s Drake appeared on albums by several "new" country acts, including Linda Hargrove, Steve Young and Tracy Nelson, as well as completing sessions for Elvis Presley. This respected musician also inaugurated his own labels, Stop Records and First Generation Records, and opened Pete's Place, a recording studio.
BORN: OCTOBER 8, 1932 AUGUSTA, GEORGIA
DIED: JULY 29, 1988
Lloyd Green moved to Mobile as a young boy and began taking music lessons there. He graduated from high school in 1955 and went on to attend the University of Southern Mississippi. Green landed in Nashville after college and soon found steady work as a road musician supporting artists like Ferlin Husky and Faron Young. He stayed with Young's band for 18 months and then left to be with his new wife in Mobile. During those months, he appeared on one George Jones side, "Too Much Water Runs Under the Bridge" (1957). While in Mobile, Green played in numerous clubs and managed to save enough money to return to Nashville nine months later. But the touring life wasn't for him, and neither was the low pay or the lack of steady gigs. He left the music business for a job in retail, but returned when Fred Rose's wife paid his union dues and secured him work as a supporting musician at the Grand Ole Opry. In 1964 he began working as a part-time assistant at the SESAC office for Roy Drusky. Although the pay was low, the gig was steady and did give Green the opportunity to make his own demos. He remained with SESAC for three years, and soon was earning good money from his session work. Green worked with pop musicians as well, including Vera Lynn, Paul McCartney, and Ringo Starr, as well as on the Byrds' seminal Sweetheart of the Rodeo. He had just a handful of solo chart hits, including instrumental versions of the pop tunes "I Can See Clearly Now" and "Here Comes the Sun" in the early '70s. He also made the charts singing "You and Me." During the 1980s an ear infection forced him to stop working, but Green eventually returned to session work, and did perform the occasional concert on dobro or steel guitar.
BORN: OCTOBER 4, 1937 LEAF, MISSISSIPPI
After playing Dobro in his early teens in and around Bristol, especially for fiddler Jack Pierce who had been in Jimmie Rodgers' 1920s band, Billy moved to Knoxville for his initial full-time employment as a steel guitarist. On WNOX radio's Midday Merry-Go-Round and Tennessee Barn Dance, he joined a group co-led by Johnny Wright (of Johnny and Jack fame and husband of legendary Kitty Wells) and Eddie Hill. When the two leaders parted, young Billy faced a decision: accompany Wright to Nashville and play country or go with Hill to WMPS in Memphis and play jazz and pop. Billy chose the latter. For a while, two of my brothers were his fellow band members: Dalton (Buddy) in Knoxville and Al (Jake) in Knoxville and Memphis.
Soon Billy moved to Nashville's Grand Ole Opry, joining Paul Howard's Arkansas Cotton Pickers, a slick western swing band whose drummer was jazz great Joe Morello. Shortly thereafter, Billy achieved national exposure; as an eighteen-year-old, he played plaintive (as demanded) steel guitar on a million seller, "Shenandoah Waltz," for Clyde Moody, on the King label in 1947. Another hit on which Billy was a significant participant occurred less than three years later. Ironically, on it his guitar was silent; he sang on 'Faded Love,' recorded in Hollywood, California, by Bob Wills and the Texas Playboys. By this time Billy had begun an unprecedented eight-year tenure as this premier western swing band's steel guitarist and occasional vocalist. Some critics credit his high tenor voice as a primary factor that made 'Faded Love' a classic as well as Oklahoma's state song.
In addition to singing in various Texas Playboy trios, Billy was lead vocalist for Wills on 'With Tears in My Eyes' (MGM, 1953), penned by his ex-boss, Paul Howard. Uncharacteristically, Wills allowed him to record four songs under his own name, backed by the Playboys.
After leaving Wills in 1958, during rock-and-roll's ultra-explosive advent, Billy had brief stints with Hank Thompson and other western swing artists. Before long, his career was relegated to semi-retired status and a return to his native east Tennessee where he appeared weekly on television.
Billy came by his trade honestly; from his infancy, he was surrounded by music of various genres. Our father (the late Elbert Bowman, Sr.), a guitarist, banjoist, and tenor vocalist, and three of hispaternal uncles were professional musicians who recorded for the Columbia label.
Billy's father and brother, Fiddlin' Charlie Bowman (late North American Fiddlers Hall of Fame 2001 winner), recorded for Vocalion and Brunswick as members of Al Hopkins' band, the Hill Billies, based in Washington, DC. These pioneers could boast of a command performance at the White House among other significant honors.
After Billy mastered the instrument's complex pedal system, Marlen Guitar Company hired him as consultant. Because aspiring and skilled players alike still seek his copedents (tablatures of chord-pedal relationships), Billy is a featured model in many popular instruction books.
Although Billy's full-time playing was confined to little more than a dozen years, two of the songs he wrote endure through the recordings of many steel guitar players. 'B. Bowman Hop' and 'Midnight in Old Amarillo,' have been recorded in sixteen countries by more than two-dozen stylists. Billy's long-time friend, Barbara Mandrell, performed them on her syndicated television show. More recently, his compositions have been aired on Garrison Keillor's weekly radio show, 'A Prairie Home Companion,' by American Public Media.
Until becoming physically unable, Billy performed in three annual events: Bob Wills Days in Turkey, Texas; the International Steel Guitar Convention in St. Louis, Missouri; and the Smoky Mountain Steel Guitar Jamboree in Knoxville, Tennessee.
BORN: OCTOBER 30, 1928 JOHNSON CITY, TENNESSEE
DIED: AUGUST 6, 1989
Hal Rugg began playing professionally in clubs and shows in the '50s around Tucson, AZ. He moved to Illinois to work the same sorts of jobs later in that decade, continuing on to Minneapolis in 1959 where he worked a regular gig at the ultra-hot Flame Club with Dave Dudley, the deep-voiced country baritone whose song "Six Days on the Road" is definitely one of the most famous truck driving country songs ever written. Various Grand Ole Opry acts such as Bobby Lord and Billy Grammer came through town, some of them encouraging Rugg to leave the frozen Minnesota tundra for the country-picking heaven of Nashville, which he finally did in 1961. It was a natural home base for a steel player to pick up work in bands, and Rugg began a long series of touring assignments with Lord, Jean Shepard, Stonewall Jackson, Bill Carlisle, and Leroy Van Dyke. In 1963, Rugg became a regular member of the George Jones band and got the chance to record his first real Nashville session. The album was entitled The Best of George Jones, a title fraught with peril as it is not only a difficult choice to make, but would even wind up being used as the title for a half-dozen different Jones collections. Nonetheless, this particular best-of actually included two instrumentals that showcased the talents of the young pedal steel player, quite a compliment for Jones to be paying Rugg. Either way, the label behind this project became so enamored with Rugg that he was contracted to a regular series of recording dates, becoming Rugg's first major account. He also recorded with Benny Barnes, Floyd Tillman, Johnny Mathis, Billy Walker,Jean Shepard, Ray Pillow, Ernie Ashworth Nat Stuckey, Porter Wagoner, Norma Jean, Sammi Smith, Ray Stevens, Ronnie Milsap, Ray Price, Barbara Mandrell, k.d. lang, Leon Russell, Eddie Rabbit, Johnny Russell, and, of course, the previously mentioned Lynn. Part of his success as a studio musician was his ongoing relationships with several key producers. One was Owen Bradley, who produced many of Lynn's albums, as well as the defining series of Patsy Cline albums that began to change the sound of country & western music to something a bit more sophisticated, a transition Rugg was certainly ready for with his happening musical chops. Another of Rugg's producing pals was Bill Walker, with whom he began working sometime in the early '70s. Walker was a producer for Capitol, creating record projects for the label's country artists such as Donna Fargo and Roy Clark. But he also wore the hat of bandleader on many Nashville awards shows and became the musical director on The Statler Brothers' Show in the '90s. Rugg appeared on this program for seven years. Rugg also appeared on many other television shows devoted to country music, including Country Junction, The Stu Phillips Show, The Wilburn Brothers' Show, Good Ole Nashville Music, The Jimmy Dean Show, and Music Hall America. He also sometimes steps outside of the country world, such as his recording sessions with folksinger Joan Baez or a rock album with Gene Pitney.
In 1963, Rugg joined the Grand Ole Opry and was a staff picker there until 1979. He was inducted into the Steel Guitar Hall of Fame in 1989. He has released two solo albums, Finally and Slidin' for Scale, on the Sweet T Music label. Firmly established as one of the honchos of the pedal steel, he is regularly in demand for special events focusing around the instrument, including gala jam sessions, instrument manufacturers' conventions, and educational workshops.
BORN: JULY 21, 1936 NEW YORK CITY, NEW YORK
DIED AUGUST 9, 2005
Bob White was born in Jenny Lind, Arkansas, a small coal mining community that was named in honor of a famous opera star, jenny Lind, the Swedish Nightingale.
In 1941, with the advent of World War II, Bob and family moved to San Diego, California, where his parents worked in the aircraft industry. It was in San Diego that Bob first became acquainted with the Hawaiian guitar. After the war ended the family moved back to Arkansas. Shortly after moving back Bob acquired a six-string electric Gibson lap steel, which he carried around all through high school. He would get up at 4:30 every morning, hitch-hike five miles downtown to the radio station and sit there until some of those early morning live singers would let him play free with them. His senior year in high school he traded for a double neck eight-string Rickenbacher.
In June, 1949, Bob took his first full time professional playing job with a group called "Sonny Hall and the Arkansas Moonshiners and worked the resort towns of the Catskill Mountains of New York State some 100 mile out of New York City. When fall and cold weather came along the "Arkansas Moonshiners" migrated to Houston, Texas, for the winter. The people in Houston thought they were hicks and the only jobs they could get were playing for the kitty. Early spring of 1950 found Bob back in New York again with a few changes. he had bought a triple neck Fender. Back in New York found Bob and the group with a new manager that bought them tailor-made clothes, promoted a guest spot on the Milton Berle TV show, and top New York night clubs… The Latin Quarter, Copa Cabana,
BORN: JUNE 15, 1932 JENNY LIND, ARKANSAS
DIED: NOVEMBER 21, 2003
David Kelii dedicated a lifetime to the pioneering of multiple tunings and inspiring scores of players by his style. He popularized the instrument through his recordings and his many years of broadcasting with "Hawaii Calls."
BORN: MAY 29, 1914 LAHAINA, MAUI, HAWAII
DIED: APRIL 3, 1983
A formidable player, tuning innovator, master builder and honest businessman, he pioneered the use of knee levers and was the first to install them on production guitars. His ZB and BMI steels set a standard for design, sound and ease of playing. He was a humble man whose depth of character likewise set a standard to measure others.
BORN: DECEMBER 24, 1927 CLARKSVILLE, ARKANSAS
DIED: MAY 26, 1985
Brumley, the son of gospel songwriter, Albert E. Brumley, who wrote I'll Fly Away, began his musical journey at 14. He is best known for his work as a member of The Buckaroos in the 1960s. He can be heard on Together Again, Tiger By The Tail and Act Naturally.
Brumley left Owens in the late 1960s and later teamed up with Rick Nelson in his Stone Canyon Band. He played on Nelson's big hit Garden Party.
Brumley won an Academy of Country Music award for steel guitar and was inducted into both the Texas Steel Guitar Hall of Fame and International Steel Guitar Hall of Fame.
Brumley also played with Desert Rose Band, Rose Maddox, Waylon Jennings, Dwight Yoakam, Steve Warner, Rod Stewart, Chris Isaak, Merle Haggard, Reba McEntire, Sara Evans, Janie Fricke, Burton Cummings and Martina McBride.
BORN: DECEMBER 11, 1935 STELLA, MISSOURI
DIED: FEBRUARY 3, 2009
DeWitt Scott is one of the most experienced, knowledgeable, and beloved steel guitarists on the world-wide scene. He is the founder of the renowned International Pedal Steel Guitar Convention held annually in St. Louis. He has written or co-written numerous books and articles on the pedal steel, toured the world many times doing lectures, concerts and workshops, produced countless recordings.
His list of honors and organizational affiliations is truly impressive. These are too numerous to list here, but some of the more noted ones include: member of the Country Music Hall of Fame; member and president of the Steel Guitar Hall of Fame, member of the Advisory Board of the Pedal Steel Guitar and Hawaiian Steel Guitar Associations, Silver Cup Award for the Worldwide Support of Pedal Steel Guitar, Musicians Hall of Fame Award, Western Swing Hall of Fame Nominee, and honorary member or president of numerous international pedal steel guitar societies and associations.
DeWitt has performed with the St. Louis Symphony Pops Orchestra and has given concerts or seminars in Norway, Denmark, Holland, Germany, France, England, Switzerland, Canada, Hawaii, New Zealand, Australia, Ireland and Japan.
BORN: APRIL 10, 1932 AMARILLO, TEXAS
Robert Lee Dunn was the oldest of four children. He became interested in Hawaiian guitar as a young boy and took correspondence courses on the instrument from Walter Kolomoku. At the age of 19 he joined a professional touring unit called the Panhandle Cowboys and Indians.
He joined Milton Brown and the Musical Brownies in the early 1930s, replacing Wanna Coffman. His steel playing was featured on the recordings by this band until he left the band following the death of Milton Brown in 1936. Bob Dunn's first recordings for Decca with Milton Brown are considered to be the first electric instrument recordings. After Brown's death, Dunn played with many different groups, including Roy Newman, Cliff Bruner's Texas Wanderers, Bill Mounce and the Sons of the South, and Buddy Jones. He made some recordings on Decca under the name Bob Dunn's Vagabonds (actually Cliff Bruner's Texas Wanderers).
Bob Dunn's style was virtually unique among the steel guitarists of his time. He was an admirer of the trombonist Jack Teagarden and took a similar approach to his soloing, using a horn-like phrasing far away from the Hawaiian stylings of the day. He always tried to treat the steel guitar as a jazz instrument, or what he termed a "modern instrument".
Bob Dunn ended his professional musical career with the onset of World War II. He enlisted and served during the war. After the war, he earned a degree in music from the Southern College of Fine Arts and opened a music store in Houston.
BORN: FEBRUARY 8, 1908 BRAGGS, OKLAHOMA
DIED: MAY 27, 1971
It all began in 1874 about 5400 miles from Dover. Joseph Kekuku was born in a small village of Laie on the windward side of Oahu, Hawaii. When Joseph was 15, he and his cousin, Sam left for a boarding school in Honolulu, about 40 miles south of Laie. In 1889 while attending the Kamahameha School for Boys, Kekuku accidentally discovered the pleasing sound of the steel guitar. As a boy, he would experiment with guitar technique, sliding ordinary household objects across the strings to see what sounds could be produced. By the time he was an adult, he had developed a unique style of playing.
In 1904 at the age of 30, Joseph left Hawaii and in his 58-years of life, would never return to his native islands. But he would instead, bring his native islands, through his music, to the rest of the world. He started in the United States by performing in vaudeville theaters from coast to coast. His group was "Kekuku's Hawaiian Quintet" and were sponsored by a management group called "The Affiliated."
In 1919 at the age of 45, Kekuku left the U.S. for an eight year tour of Europe traveling with "The Bird of Paradise" show. During this time, Kekuku played before Kings and Queens in many different countries. "The Bird of Paradise" show had been on Broadway with brilliant Hawaiian scenery, dazzling costumes, plus authentic Hawaiian music. The show traveled in Europe for eight years and was a total sellout and European hearts were captured by the sweet teasing sounds of the steel guitar.
Kekuku returned to the United States and at the age of 53, settled in Chicago and ran a popular and successful music school. Around 1930 he left Chicago and visited Dover, New Jersey. Some think he came to Dover as part of a traveling musical troupe that appeared at the Baker Theater. Hawaiian groups on these vaudeville tours usually consisted of 5 or 6 musicians with the steel guitarist seated in the center. Why Kekuku settled in Dover no one yet knows. Perhaps he like the rolling hills of Dover and the bustling downtown district in the valley. Perhaps he liked the proximity to the shows at the Baker Theater and the trains that ran to New York City. Perhaps his wife Adeline was tired of traveling and wanted to settle down and this was the long sought after spot. In any event, in 1932 Joseph Kekuku was living in Dover, New Jersey with his wife at 88 Prospect Street and giving Hawaiian guitar lessons. Around town he was ofter referred to as "the Hawaiian.
BORN: 1874 LA'IE, HAWAII
DIED: JANUARY 16, 1932
Buddy Lee Charleton worked with local bands for a while before his remarkable talent was noted by a member of Ernest Tubb's Texas Troubadours when they were playing in the area. It was the time when Buddy Emmons thought about leaving the Troubadours, so finally Buddy Charleton got his chance to become a Texas Troubadour. According to his own statement, one of the most difficult moments in his career was the first night with the Troubadours when somebody in the crowd said "Hey, that's not Buddy Emmons!". Nevertheless Buddy jumped at the chance and became one of the key musicians in the band. His tasteful Country backing as well as his incredible Jazz and Swing arrangements (together with Guitarists Leon Rhodes, Steve Chapman and Pete Mitchell) are timeless classics.
Tired of living on and off the road, Buddy left the Texas Troubadours in 1974, but still maintained his extraordinary ability as one of the true stylists of the Pedal Steel Guitar.
BORN: MARCH 6, 1938 NEW MARKET, VIRGINIA
When Jernigan was nine years of age his father bought him his first steel guitar. By the time he was fourteen years old, he was playing on the weekends at VFW and Legion Halls in the Pensacola area.
At the age of eighteen he had his first professional job in Ohio prior to being drafted in 1965 into the United States Army.
In his early years (1960s & '70s), Jernigan honed his skills as a backup player. In 1970 Ron Lashley of the Emmons Guitar Company recognized Doug's talent and produced his first album, Uptown To Country. Since then, Doug has recorded many more instrumental albums, shared billing on others, and has been the session steel guitarist on several recordings by such country music artists as Faron Young, Little Jimmy Dickins, Lorrie Morgan, and David Frizzell.
Today, Doug tours as a concert performer, records with a host of Country Music artists and has plays on the Opry. He is also an accomplished Dobro player.
Jernigan has toured as a backup player for David Houston, Faron Young, Ferlin Husky, Jack Greene, Johnny PayCheck, Little Jimmy Dickens, Lorrie Morgan, and Vassar Clements. In 1977, Jernigan became a Christian and began to play in church and still does today. He has recorded with Betty Jean Robinson, Joe Paul Nichols and many other gospel music groups
BORN: JANUARY 5, 1946 PENSACOLA, FLORIDA
Frederick Theodore Tavares was of Portuguese, Hawaiian, Chinese, English, Tahitian-Samoan lineage of which he would later wittingly say "the Portuguese makes me stubborn; Chinese makes me smart; English makes me high-class; Hawaiian gives me the music; Tahitian gives me the beat I couldn't ask for more."
Freddie learnt to sing and harmonize whilst briefly attending Kamehameha Boys School as a boarding student from age 5, his love of music probably being born through this schools emphasis on music and singing.
When Harry Owens took over leadership of the dance orchestra of the Royal Hawaiian Hotel, Waikiki in 1934 and sought an electric steel guitar player, he hired Freddie Tavares. On his first night with Harry Owens Royal Hawaiians, Freddie played the steel guitar parts on two songs 'Song of the Islands' and 'Imi Au la Oe' after which Owens and the other orchestra members gave him a standing ovation.
To further his music career, Freddie had moved from Hawaii to Anaheim, near Hollywood, in 1942 to freelance as a session musician. His experience of playing steel guitar in an orchestra and his ability to sight read music and orchestral arrangements unhesitatingly, made him highly sought after by movie musical arrangers and record producers, also for radio and TV work.
From 1949 through '53 Freddie played steel guitar almost nightly with country singer/fiddle player Wade Ray and his Ozark Mountain Boys at the club Cowtown in LA.
In early 1953 Noel Boggs introduced Freddie to Leo Fender. He hired Freddie as assistant engineer to himself and on Freddie's second day of employment he started to create, with Leo Fender, a product that was to become the leading and most wanted instrument in guitar history - the Stratocaster. Freddie continued his music career and session work whilst with Fender.
When a talented young bass player, Vince Akina was forming a group to perform Hawaiian and Tahitian songs with dancers on a casual basis in '54, Freddie and Ernest Tavares made up the trio. The South Sea Islanders performed all over Southern California for 15 years.
Freddie Tavares' recording credits read like a Who's Who and included Bing Crosby, Dean Martin, The Andrew Sisters, Deanna Durban, Gordon McCrae, Sue Thompson, Jimmy Dalton, Elvis Presley, Spike Jones& The City Slickers, Tennessee Ernie Ford (on Mule Train) Tex Williams, Margaret Whiting & Jimmy Wakely, Andy Parker & The Plainsmen, Sons Of The Pioneers, The Polynesians, Paradise Islanders, The Outriggers, South Sea Islanders, The Bonaires, Martin Denny ,Wade Ray and Dick Kestner.
He recorded with the orchestras of Henri Mancini, Bud Dant, Steve Lawrence, Ray Andrade, Lawrence Welk, George Liberace, Axel Stordahl, William Kealoha, Ray Conniff, George Poole, 101 Strings and also Juan Garcia Esquival's Big Band.
During his retirement, Freddie would take backing tapes he had made, a small amplifier, his Fender pedal steel guitar, Stratocaster and a ukulele to entertain those in nursing and retirement homes, and the veterans hospital, with his beautiful singing and music.
When Freddie played at Jerry Byrd's 1985 Ho'olaule'a in Hawaii, he jokingly told the audience he had had to retire in order to practise for the event, but his faultless playing and eloquent oration, at age 72, earned him the respect of everyone, and an invitation to return in '86.
Freddie Tavares will go down in the annals of steel guitar history as one of the great masters.
BORN: FEBRUARY 18, 1913 PAIA, MAUI, HAWAII
DIED: JULY 24, 1990
Garrett is closely associated with Hank Thompson. He composed "Rose City Chimes" in 1958; this latterday classic can be heard on Thompson's 1962 album, Live At The Cherokee Frontier Days Rodeo In Wyoming. Garrett also worked with Jim Reeves, Ernest Tubb, George Jones, Bob Wills, George Morgan and Ray Price. He became known as "the King of Thumb Style" and was elected to the Steel Guitar Hall of Fame in 1995. Shortly before his death, Garrett worked with Thompson on his acclaimed comeback release, Hank Thompson And Friends.
BORN: MARCH 22, 1935 DALLAS, TEXAS
DIED: APRIL 24, 1999
Billy Robinson was a self-taught musician who began playing guitar at the age of 10. Five years later, at the age of 15 he formed his own band called the "Eagle Rangers". In 1947 Billy began playing steel with Big Jeff. Billy worked for Jeff in clubs and at WLAC Radio as one of the "Radio Playboys" while still in high school.
In 1948 Robinson was hired as the steel player for WSM's "Grand Ole Opry", the NBC network's "Prince Albert Show".
In 1952, he became a member of the US Army in Special Services. Billy played bass drum in the Army's marching band and became a member of the combo that played in Officer's and NCO Clubs. He always had a second love besides music, so when he was discharged from the Army, he completely changed directions and attended the Harris Advertising Art School. He finished a four year course in three years on the GI Bill.
After graduating, he had several jobs and then worked for the Baptist Sunday School Board for 7 years. Then he became Art Director for NASCO in Springfield TN. He has now retired from there after 27 years, but retirement isn't for Billy Robinson. Now he has a foot in both art and music. He founded his own business, "Robinson Graphics," and designed a lap steel guitar which has been custom built for him by Charlie Stepp of Derby Steel Guitars in Kentucky.
BORN: AUGUST 6, 1931 NASHVILLE, TENNESSEE
John Hughey began playing guitar at age nine, when his parents bought him an acoustic guitar from Sears. In the seventh grade, he befriended a classmate named Harold Jenkins, who would later become a prominent country singer under his stage name Conway Twitty. (Hughey and Jenkins also attended high school together.)
Influenced by Eddy Arnold's steel guitarist, Little Roy Wiggins, Hughey asked his father to buy him a lap steel guitar. Along with Jenkins and other high school friends, Hughey performed in a local band called the Phillips County Ramblers. Hughey first played professionally as a member of Slim Rhodes and The Mother's Best Mountaineers, a Memphis, Tennessee-based band. After leaving this band, Hughey joined Twitty on the road as his pedal steel guitarist, and backed Twitty from 1968 to 1988. He also recorded with various other acts, such as Marty Stuart, Willie Nelson, Elvis Presley, and Dickey Betts. By the 1980s, he began playing for Loretta Lynn, then moved on to play steel for Vince Gill for twelve years. Hughey was inducted into the Steel Guitar Hall of Fame in 1996. In the 2000s, he and several other Nashville musicians formed a Western swing band called The Time Jumpers, who performed every Monday at a club in Nashville.
BORN: DECEMBER 27, 1933 ELAINE, ARKANSAS
DIED: November 18, 2007
Weldon Myrick became fascinated with the steel guitar at age eight when his older brother, Tex, left the instrument behind to enter the Air Force. Myrick spent hours hunched over the instrument, sliding his father's pocket knife on the strings in place of a missing bar. Despite the fact that he couldn't find anyone in town to tune the instrument, he was soon able to play triumphantly an off-key version of "Steel Guitar Rag."
At age thirteen, Myrick acquired his own Rickenbacker steel guitar and began playing on the radio in Stanford, Texas, in the group Henley Diggs and the Double Mountain Boys. While still a teenager, he backed Ferlin Husky, Minnie Pearl and Jim Reeves on traveling Opry shows visiting Lubbock.
After high school, in 1956, Myrick moved to Big Spring, Texas, where he began writing and recording with songwriter and producer Ben Hall. Myrick gained valuable experience recording with local acts, picking alongside up-and-coming musician Waylon Jennings. To supplement his $7.50-an-hour recording fee, Myrick joined the local police force and served as an officer for over three years.
Weldon Myrick moved his family to Nashville, Tennessee, in 1963, and began working with comedian Lonnie "Pap" Wilson on the road and backing country artists on package shows. While back in town, Myrick chased his dream of performing on the Grand Ole Opry by hanging out backstage and waiting for a spot to open each Saturday night. He forged a relationship with Bill Anderson and was soon appearing on the Opry as an official member of Anderson's Po' Boys band.
Weldon Myrick's first session hit came in 1964 with Connie Smith's "Once a Day" (written by Anderson). Producer Bob Ferguson's decision to showcase Myrick's soulful steel alongside Smith's booming voice not only kick-started the young singer's career, but also helped Myrick become a full-time studio musician. Myrick soon adopted a commercially accessible style that used the guitar pedals to raise and lower the pitch of the strings in counterpoint harmony while picking fast, staccato, double-stop and triple-stop passages. He remained a top Nashville studio musician for over three decades, backing everyone from country legends Chet Atkins, Willie Nelson, the Statler Brothers and Tanya Tucker to artists outside the genre including Delbert McClinton, the Pointer Sisters, Paul Siebel and Cat Stevens.
After joining fellow steel guitarist Hal Rugg on the Grand Ole Opry in 1966, Weldon Myrick served thirty-two years as a member of the staff band. He also released several solo instrumental albums and contributed to albums by Area Code 615, a talented and energetic band made up of Nashville's A-list studio musicians. Myrick was elected to the Steel Guitar Hall of Fame in 1997. He continues to record and perform today.
BORN: APRIL 10, 1938 JAYTON, TEXAS
This session and road player was the influential stylist and core member of Carl Smith's "Tunesmiths" band for 2 decades, but recored with many other artists including Lefty Frizzell, Little Jimmie Dickins, Gene Autry, Johnny Bond and The Everly Brothers. A true steel pioneer of radio, television and recording during the 50s and 60s.
BORN: NOVEMBER 24, 1933 INDIANAPOLIS, INDIANA
BARNEY ALVIN KALANIKAU ISAACS, JR.
Master steel guitar player Barney Isaacs full name is Alvin Kalanikau Isaacs Jr. but he went by the name Barney Isaacs. Barney's father was Alvin Kaleolani Isaacs, Sr., bandleader for the Royal Hawaiian Serenaders, a dance band that performed the the Royal Hawaiian Hotel in the early days of tourism in Hawaii. All of Barney's seven brothers and sisters learned to play musical instruments, including his brother Leland "Atta" Isaacs. When Barney was 24 he joined his father's band and began touring and collaborating with other Hawaiian musicians, including Alfred Apaka, Gabby Pahinui, and many others. In addition to performing concerts and recording, Barney Isaacs was a regular on the "Hawaii Calls" radio show for 25 years. In the 1950s he worked at Waikiki Records and in the 1990s he recorded an album and toured with slack key guitarist George Kuo.
BORN: JULY 18, 1926 HONOLULU, HAWAII
DIED: FEBRUARY 12, 1996
A skillful player by age 20 and teacher by age 26, Jeff produced his first album "Course" in 1969. The first touring pedal steel teacher (1971), Jeff also established the first residential school in 1976, Jeffran Music & Jeffran College of Pedal Steel. His tablature system and volumes of study courses have become instructional standards for 3 decades. His educated approach and high expectations for his students have made him "Steel's foremost instructor".
BORN: JANUARY 7, 1942 ARKANSAS CITY, KANSAS
DIED: APRIL 7, 2004
Jimmie got an early start into music from his dad and uncle. They performed as a duet on a Columbus, Ohio radio station (WHKC). Home though, was Obetz Station, Ohio, a tiny town just outside Columbus. Jimmie is able to recall being taught to play a few chords on a mandolin at age 4. "I was just a cute kid, singing Jesus Loves Me on Dad's radio show," Jimmie explains. He also remembers hearing the steel sounds of Jerry Byrd about 3 years later, immediately informing his dad "That's what I want to play." By the time he was 10 "I was dueling Jerry, note for note," he proudly states. High school hadn't ended before he had backed touring artists such as Buck Owens and Johnny Paycheck who would stop in his area to perform. By age 15, Jimmie was working on the WWVA's Jamboree in Wheeling, West Virginia. Vocalist, Jimmie Walker, was also in Wheeling and took a liking to the boy, using him in his band.
Jimmie got married along about then and "my wife wanted me to have a regular job, or else," he remembers. "I went to work in a meat packing plant in Columbus. One day I was going to work and heard Emmons playing "Buddy's Boogie" on the radio. That tune and Buddy's sound just overwhelmed me. I stopped that car dead in the road and was overcome by it all. Traffic backed up and people were wanting to kill me. Right then I knew I had to get back into playing. I did, and that was the end of my first marriage!"
In 1957, Jimmie accompanied Wilma Leigh and Stony Cooper to Nashville, where they recorded for Hickory Records. He stayed with them for 6 years. However, his talent was quickly recognized by others, as he got work with Cowboy Copas, George Jones, Hank Snow, and for two years with Faron Young. Ferlin Husky enticed him to join his band for a time, then he got on the Johnny Wright/Kitty Wells show. That lasted 7 years. But all the while he was recording heavily. He was used by Dolly Parton, Slim Whitman, Chet Atkins, and so many other recording greats that space prevents a complete listing of his session work. Over the years, Jimmie collaborated on several fine instructional courses that are also listed herein. He was subsequently asked by Scotty to do an album, Ton Of Steel, while working for Kitty Wells. A major label picked it up. "At that time I was really busy, but I still took on more; too much more in fact," Jimmie relates.
"I had always been fascinated by the mechanics of pedal steels," Jimmie says. So along with his good friend, John Hughey, they began producing JCH pedal steels in 1981. But, performing and sessions constantly took them away from building, so much so that they stopped in 1993. But that building urge caught up with Jimmie again, and he recently teamed with Russell Parks and is again back building (CP pedal steels). Touring still keeps Jimmie busy. He is currently with Radney Foster, a fine vocalist and performer.
BORN: SEPTEMBER 17, 1935 OBETZ, OHIO
DIED: FEBRUARY 2, 2005
Country music greats like Pasty Cline were a part of his everyday home life, but it was a guitar player by the name of Joe Edwards who first influenced the young Franklin and turned his thoughts toward being a musician.
When Franklin was nine years old, he began his mastery of the steel guitar. At 16 he performed a solo spot on the hit tune, "It's So Nice to Be With You." When someone is really good at what they do, word of mouth can spread faster than a brush fire during a drought. And so it was for Paul Franklin.
Franklin graduated from high school around 1970. At the ripe old age of 17, fresh from school, he picked up his dreams and moved to Nashville. In no time at all he had landed a remarkable job as a member of Barbara Mandrell's road band. For several years he traveled with one band or another, playing beside celebrated country artists of the time like Jerry Reed and Dottie West.
In the early '80s Franklin turned his attention to session work. He reached as high a level of success with this venture as with his first. Over the years he performed beside more artists than could possibly be listed here. Some of the bigger names are Rhett Akins, John Anderson, Susan Ashton, Brooks & Dunn, Shania Twain, Tracy Byrd, Suzy Bogguss, Faith Hill, Deana Carter, Alan Jackson, Wynonna Judd, and Clint Black.
During Franklin's extraordinary career he has won many awards. For three years in a row, from 1994 through 1996, he was named best steel guitarist by the Academy of Country Music. In both 1999 and 2000 he was nominated for the Country Music Association's Musician of the Year award.
Along the way, he not only mastered the steel guitar, but also the electric guitar, the pedal steel guitar, the slide guitar, the Dobro, and the pedal Dobro. He has even been known to accompany on the fiddle or drums.
BORN: MAY 31, 1954 DETROIT, MICHIGAN
For over 50years this touring sideman and session player delivered western swing, mazz and country with artful skill on motion picture sound tracks and on the recordings of innumerable artists, including Bob Wills’ Texas Playboys.
Later as a bandleader he arranged and produced dozens of albums during the 1990s. He proved to be a major force in the resurgence of non-pedal steel through touring, arranging and recording. Besides his brands of “Morrell and the Morrell-Shields Steels”, he was one of the founders and designers of MSA pedal guitars.
BORN: MAY 31, 1954 DETROIT, MICHIGAN
Herby began taking lessons on a lap steel in 1956 at age 9 and continued taking lessons off and on for the next couple of years. At age 12, he got a Fender double neck 8 string steel guitar and started taking lessons from Tani Alien in Chattanooga. At age 15, Herby started playing with a local singer named Bob Brandy who had a TV show five days a week. At age 17, Wallace started playing at a local amusement park on Sundays that booked Country artists from Nashville, Tennessee. He was in the backup band and I got to work with many of the top Country singers and got to know many of them.
After graduating from High School, Herby landed a job at a club in Milwaukee, WI. This was a well known club that booked different big names in every week and he had the chance to back many of them. The singer in the band was a guy named Duane Dee. Later in 1966, Dee got a recording contract with Capitol Records and moved to Nashville, Herby lived in Chattanooga, but started working the road off and on with Duane. This was his first road job. Wallace worked the road for the next 12 years with various other artists on a regular basis, such as: Leroy Van Dyke, Nat Stuckey, David Rogers, Donna Fargo, Jody Miller and Billie Joe Spears. He quit working the road regularly in 1977.
Although he has never been a full time session player, Herby has done around 2,000 sessions or so over the years. Most of the sessions were custom projects with smaller artists; however, he has recorded quite a bit with Nat St-uckey, as well as Alabama, Danny Shirley (lead singer for Confederate Railroad), Sammi Smith, David Keith and many more.
In 1969 Wallace did his first instruction course for the Emmons Guitar Co.
In 1978, Herby started playing at Scotty's International Steel Guitar Convention and he has played it every year since then.
Wallace has recorded 12 instrumental albums from 1980 through 1999.
In 1989 Herby moved from Chattanooga to the Pigeon Forge/Gatlinburg area, which is a tourist area that has several music show as well as Dollywood. He played 7 seasons at Dollywood in various shows and the past 2 years he has worked at a theatre in Pigeon Forge with Jim Ed Brown, Helen Cornelius and Con Hunley.
BORN: JUNE 5, 1947 CHATTANOOGA, TENNESSEE
"PEE WEE" WHITEWING
Pee Wee arrived in California in 1942, and was performing by the age of 12 with all the San Jose area bands. He was a premier player by 17 and toured with Blackie Crawford’s “Cherokees”, Lefty Frizzell and Ray Price. From 51 to 59, he played with Hank Thompson’s “Brazos Valley Boys” providing intricate twin steel and guitar arrangements. Scores of record sides attest to his brilliance for country jazz. He was a true western pioneer who distinguished the instrument.
BORN: FEBRUARY 11, 1934 REICHERT, OKLAHOMA
SANTO & JOHNNY FARINA
Santo & Johnny were an Italian-American rock and roll duo from Brooklyn comprising brothers Santo and Johnny Farina. They are best known for their instrumental "Sleep Walk," which became a regional hit and eventually reached #1 on the pop charts when it was released nationally.
Santo and Johnny Farina were born in Brooklyn, New York; Santo on October 24, 1937 and Johnny on April 30, 1941. Their father was drafted into the Army while they were children and was stationed for some time in Oklahoma. After hearing a steel guitar on the radio, he wrote to his wife, "I'd like the boys to learn to play this instrument".
Upon returning from World War II, the boys' father found a music teacher who gave the boys steel guitar lessons. When Santo was a teenager, he was able to get a local music store to modify an acoustic guitar, allowing him to play it like a steel guitar.
Within two years, Santo was performing in amateur shows on a new Gibson six-string steel guitar and had started receiving lessons from a steel guitar teacher who had studied in Hawaii. By the age of fourteen, Santo was composing songs, and formed an instrumental trio with a guitarist and drummer. This trio appeared at local dances and parties, performing both original compositions and some Hawaiian standards. With money Santo made from these performances, he bought another steel guitar, one with three necks, each with eight strings. This allowed him to experiment even further, and he tried different tunings until he found ones that appealed to him.
When Johnny reached the age of twelve, he began to play accompaniment to Santo on a standard electric guitar. The brothers soon formed a duo and became rather popular in school, eventually performing at events in the New York boroughs. They recorded a demo which they circulated to local New York record companies.
In 1958, Mike Dee & The Mello Tones (Santo Farina, steel guitar; Johnny Farina, guitar and their uncle Mike Dee, drums) recorded a self-penned instrumental which they called "Deep Sleep". Loosely inspired by the song "Softly, As In The Morning Sunrise (Sigmund Romberg, 1929), it had the same chord progression but a much simpler melody line.
"Deep Sleep" became "Sleep Walk" and in August 1959 it topped the American charts. "Sleep Walk" continues to be one of the most popular and easily recognized instrumentals of all time
The brothers eventually came to the attention of a music publishing company and signed a song writer's contract and eventually a contract with Canadian-American Records. Their first release, "Sleep Walk", was composed by the two brothers. (The original single credits three Farinas, including an "A. Farina" for the composition. It's sometimes reported that their mother or sister helped, but this is apparently false.) It was recorded at Trinity Records in Manhattan. "Sleep Walk" entered Billboard's 'Top 40' on August 17, 1959. It rose to the No. 1 position for two weeks in September (the 21st and the 28th) and remained in the 'Top 40' list until November 9. It was the last instrumental to hit #1 in the 1950s and earned Santo & Johnny a gold record. The follow-up song "Teardrop" was also a hit, though their LP Santo & Johnny was less successful in the United States.
After touring Europe, Mexico, and Australia, Santo & Johnny signed to an Italian record label and had several hits in Europe that included "Sleep Walk", "Love Story", "Maria Elena", "Ebb Tide", "Love is Blue", "Enchanted Sea", and others. In 1965, they released an album of Beatles covers; "And I Love Her" hit #1 in Mexico and held the spot for 21 weeks. In 1973, Santo & Johnny recorded the theme to the movie The Godfather, which went to #1 in Italy and stayed at that spot for 21 weeks. They received a gold record in Italy and were inducted into the Italian Music Hall of Fame.
They continued recording and releasing albums until 1976, after which Santo began a solo career
BORN: OCT. 24, 1937
BORN: APRIL 30, 1941
BROOKLYN, NEW YORK
Country Musician, Producer began his career in 1949, as a steel guitar player at the Grand Ole Opry and worked as a staff musician for 13 years. On the road and in the studio, he performed with such artists as Patsy Cline, Jeanne Pruitt, Jimmy Dickens, Del Reeves, The Everly Brothers and rocker J.J. Cale. As vice president of MCA Records, he produced hits for Del Reeves, Marty Robbins, Bill Monroe and was credited as one of the musicians who helped develop the famed "Nashville Sound." He is a recipient of the Country Music Association Producer of the Year Award
BORN: DECEMBER 14, 1928 KINGSPORT, TENNESSEE
DIED: JANUARY 1, 2009
Jay Dee started playing steel guitar at the age of 10, taking 12 lessons of a 13 week course. By the time he was 15 he was playing small bars in the Fontana/Sam Bernardino area.
In 1965, at age 20, he worked his first full time club job at the "Aces Club" in the City of Industry. This lasted 3 1/2 years. During the same time he did an album titled the "International Submarine Band" with Gram Parsons on the Lee Hazelwood, Inc. label.
In 1968 Maness did the "Sweetheart of the Rodeo" album, with the Byrds.
In 1969 Jay Dee became one of Buck Owen's Buckaroos and toured with Buck for a year. While with buck he got to be on the first season of the television show "Hee Haw".
In 1970 Jay Dee went to work at the "Palomino Club" in North Hollywood, CA. He left the club in 1974 and moved to Nashville, TN to work for Ray Stevens until 1975 when he moved back to Los Angeles and returned to the "Palomino Club". In 1978 Maness left the "Palomino Club" to focus on recording and television.
BORN: JANUARY 4, 1945 LOMA LINDA, CALIFORNIA
Bobby Koefer is an American treasure. as a Western Swing pioneer, he is a truly unique steel guitarist. A self-taught master with an unorthodox technique of using only a thumb pick and a flat bar, this amazing showman mesmerizes fans and peers with his chimes and improvisational jazz licks. Playing his 1953 standup, Fender, triple neck steel guitar he swings it like no other. His style and sound are timeless. As a member of Bob Wills and His Texas Playboys, Bobby Koefer was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. In 2004, he was inducted into the International Steel Guitar Hall of Fame. On August 7, 2007, he received the Will Rogers Award for Excellence from The Academy of Western Artists for Best Western Swing Instrumentalist. Bobby Koefer was born August 18, 1928 in Clay Center, Kansas
BORN: AUGUST 18, 1928 CLAY CENTER, KANSAS
Jody Carver was pop radio and television's marquee player during the 50s. As a staff musician at CBS he recorded and performed tith all the artists and the major showmen of New York's "Great White Way", with Codfrey, Como, Gleason, Berle, Griffin, Sullivan and a host of others. His recording and performing brought the steel national recognition during TV's infancy.
BORN: APRIL 19, 1929 BROOKLYN, NEW YORK
It was nearly fifty years ago that Bobby’s parents presented him with his first steel guitar - a six string Rickenbacker. It was an acquisition that would help shape the rest of my life. One of his favorite steel players was the great Jerry Byrd, who was in his opinion, the grand master of the steel guitar. It was Jerry who got Bobby started off on the right foot, simply by sending me his C6 tuning and some kind words of encouragement.
In 1947 Bobby’s family moved to the San Francisco Bay Area and it was there that he finally began playing music professionally, along with his brother Larry, who played guitar. They did a lot of concerts throughout the sixties backing up some of the Top 40 stars of the day like Gene Vincent, Dobie Gray, The Coasters, Mel Carter, Dick and Dee Dee, etc.
In 1970, Black joined Commander Cody and The Lost Planet Airmen, and for several years toured nearly every State in the Union. He did two European tours, Don Kirshner's Rock Concert, the Midnight Special with Wolfman Jack etc.
In the mid 1970s Bobby moved to Nashville and with the help of Pete Drake, worked and recorded with many country artists.
Black was privileged to play on many Grand Ole Opry shows at Opryland, and The Ryman Auditorium. He toured with Barbara Mandrell, Dolly Parton, Asleep At The Wheel, The New Riders Of The Purple Sage and The Sir Douglas Quintet.
Some of the Bobby’s memorable moments included working for Bill Graham and sharing the bill with Elton John, The Eagles, Merle Haggard, John Lennon, The Blues Brothers, Stevie Wonder, The Beach Boys, The Grateful Dead, playing for President Nixon, and on a side trip to Egypt, climbed The Great Pyramid.
Bobby Black hung up his traveling shoes but never stopped playing - he never intend to. For the past decade he’s played the Nevada Casino Circuit and California nightclubs with the California Cowboys, Lost Weekend, Jim Campilongo, various Hawaiian groups.
BORN: APRIL 19, 1929 BROOKLYN, NEW YORK
ORVILLE "RED" RHODES
Orville Rhodes’ mother taught him to play the dobro at the age of five, but at the age of fifteen he switched to the steel guitar. He moved to Los Angeles in 1960 and became a session musician.
Rhodes played pedal steel on many country rock, pop and rock albums with The Monkees, James Taylor, Seals and Crofts, The Byrds, The Carpenters and many other groups. He is most often remembered for his work with former Monkee Michael Nesmith on Nesmith's first solo albums in the early 1970s. Rhodes is also credited for the "other-worldly" effects he created with pedal steel on The Ventures futuristic album The Ventures in Space in 1964.
In the late 1970s Rhodes shifted his focus from performing to guitar electronics at his Royal Amplifier Service shop in Hollywood, California. There Rhodes modified amplifiers and created his custom Velvet Hammer guitar pickups for James Burton, Clarence White and other influential guitarists. His shop staff included future instrument makers David Schecter, Michael Tobias and Bill Chapin.
Rheumatoid arthritis restricted Rhodes' public performances and recordings in the 1980s and 1990s, with the notable exception of his appearance on Michael Nesmith's Tropical Campfires album and tour in 1992
BORN: MAY 11, 1934 PRESCOTT, ARIZONA
LEONARD T. ZINN
Leonard T. Zinn is one of America's legends of the steel guitar. He has devoted over 65 years of his life to playing, arranging, teaching and promoting the steel guitar. He's been an inspiration to many of today's top steel players. He has played steel for many country music stars including Ernest Tubb, tex Ritter, Roy Rogers, Faron Young, Patsy Cline, Randy Travis, and many years with Columbia recording artists, The 101 Ranch Boys.
Leonard's love for the steel guitar and Hawaiian music started when he first heard the Hawaiian steel guitar played by native Hawaiians Dick McIntire, Sam Koki, Eddie Bush, Andy Iona and Sol Hoopii. He was happy in later years to have the honor of knowing and playing shows with some of these great legends of Hawaiian music. Leonard is also credited as one of the early pioneers to bring the steel guitar into country music in the 1940s.
Leonard T. Zinn still travels extensively, playing throughout the USA as well as other countries. He conducts steel guitar workshop/seminars and is always eager to help anyone who sincerely wants to play the steel guitar. "L.T." is humbly proud of his association with the top Hawaiian and country music steel guitarists throughout the world, and always gives thanks and praise to his Lord and Savior for giving him these accomplishments and for this talent.
BORN: DECEMBER 27, 1924 HANOVER, PENNSYLVANIA
Rico was an innovative steel guitarist of the 1940s and 50s. He perfected exquisite chord voicings on his self-built pedal steel. As a contestant on Arthur Godfrey’s CBS Talent Scouts show, he was promptly hired by Godfrey and became an international star influencing steel guitarists throughout the world, an RCA Victor recording artist and a featured act at major east coast nightclubs.
BORN: JANUARY 22, 1917 PROVIDENCE, RHODE ISLAND
DIED: JANUARY 24, 2005
Bradshaw has operated Pedal Steel Guitar Products, a mail order business in steel guitar accessories, since 1967. In 2006, Bradshaw bought the Webb Amplifier Company and will manufacture this product, a specialty amplifier for steel guitarists.
Bradshaw has produced seminal steel guitar albums, including:
Curly Chalker's “Counterpoint” and “Nevada Breaks“
Bobby Black's “California Freedom” and “Honky Cat”
Bobby Garrett's “Thumbs Up”.
Bradshaw also produced a 20-volume set of resurrected steel guitar classics, re-releasing out-of-print albums by Jerry Byrd, Herb Remington, Speedy West, Lloyd Green, Buddy Emmons, Jay Dee Maness, Red Rhodes, Jimmy Day and Noel Boggs. He has produced steel guitar shows, starting in 1967 with Maurice Anderson. Those early periodic events eventually evolved into the Steel Guitar Conventions that are now held over Labor Day weekend annually in St. Louis, Missouri.
As publisher of Steel Guitarist magazine in 1979 and prior to that as a columnist and writer for Guitar Player for several years he documented artist's histories and the instrument's evolution. He coined the term "copedent" to reveal in graphic form how steel players structured their pedal steel guitar's tunings, chords and string pitches by the employment of pedals and knee levers on their instruments.
BORN: FEBRUARY 14, 1935 SKIATOOK, OKLAHOMA
After graduating from high school, Maurice Anderson immediately pursued his passion for music by playing professionally with a band 5 nights a week. Showing a remarkable dedication and further displaying his zeal for all things musical, Maurice took on the extra task of teaching steel guitar at McCord Music, one of the most renowned music stores in Dallas history and a local hotspot at the time.
During Maurice’s extensive music career he has worked with an astounding number of legendary artists including Gene Autry, Tom Jones and LeAnn Rimes. He has appeared in the films “Honeysuckle Rose” (with Willie Nelson), “On the Road Again” and “Dallas, the Early Years”.
Throughout the years Maurice Anderson has deservedly earned an immense number of accolades. Most notably he has been inducted into The International Steel Guitar Hall of Fame, The Texas Steel Guitar Hall of Fame, The Texas Western Swing Hall of Fame and The California Western Swing Hall of Fame. He has even been nominated for a Grammy Award!
Maurice has been teaching people to play both the Lap Steel and Pedal Steel Guitars for most of his life. He believes it is never too late to begin learning to play either of these unique instruments and knows just how enjoyable and rewarding the learning process can be. He currently works in the Dallas Ft.Worth area teaching, recording and even playing locally in Texas. You can be sure you will be learning from a truly committed individual with an intense devotion to music.
BORN: DECEMBER 12, 1934 DALLAS, TEXAS
"SNEAKY" PETE KLEINOW
Kleinow was born in South Bend, Indiana. Before his musical career, he originally worked as a special effects artist and stop motion animator for movies and television, including the Gumby, Outer Limits, and Davey and Goliath series, as well as movies such as 7 Faces of Dr. Lao (starring Tony Randall and Barbara Eden) and The Wonderful World of the Brothers Grimm.
At night, Kleinow would frequently sit in with Bakersfield Sound-oriented combos and early country-rock aggregations playing the pedal steel guitar. Through this scene he became acquainted with Chris Hillman and Gram Parsons of The Byrds, helping the group to replicate their newly country-oriented sound onstage with banjoist Doug Dillard.
After leaving the Byrds, in 1968, Parsons and Hillman invited Kleinow to join their new band, the Flying Burrito Brothers. Subsequently, Kleinow left behind his career in visual effects and spent the next thirteen years as a professional musician.
One of the first pedal steel players to work in a rock context, Kleinow incorporated liberal use of electronic innovations like the fuzzbox and backwards recording techniques. As such, his style of playing was immediately influential upon second-generation players such as Jerry Garcia, Buddy Cage of the New Riders of the Purple Sage and sessionman Al Perkins.
Respected as the "Hendrix of the steel guitar," Kleinow was rarely short of session work. Finding session work to be more lucrative, he left the Flying Burrito Brothers in 1971 and played for an eclectic range of artists, including Joe Cocker (Joe Cocker!, 1969), Delaney, Bonnie and Friends (To Bonnie from Delaney, 1970) and Little Feat (many albums including Sailin' Shoes, 1972). In 1972 Sneaky teamed up with Laramy Smith in the group ARIZONA. Other members included Steve Ewards (Spirit), David Atwood (America) and Andrew Way (Spencer Davis Group).
He also added steel guitar to records by Frank Zappa (Waka/Jawaka, 1972), the Bee Gees (Life in a Tin Can, 1973), John Lennon (Mind Games, 1973), Linda Ronstadt (Heart Like A Wheel, 1974), and Fleetwood Mac (Heroes Are Hard to Find, 1974).
In 1974 Kleinow was part of a new band, Cold Steel, and then a reconstituted Flying Burrito Brothers. His first solo album, Sneaky Pete, was released in 1978 and The Legend and the Legacy followed in 1994.
He returned to special effects and created the dinosaurs for the comic film Caveman (1981), starring Ringo Starr and Barbara Bach. Throughout the 1980s and 1990s, Kleinow created special effects for movies such as The Empire Strikes Back, Gremlins, The Right Stuff, The Terminator, and Terminator 2, while continuing to work sporadically as a professional musician.
In 1983, his work on the television miniseries The Winds of War was recognized with an Emmy Award for Special Visual Effects.
In 2000, Kleinow formed a group called Burrito Deluxe (also the name of a 1970 Flying Burrito Brothers album) with Garth Hudson, former organist of The Band, Carlton Moody of the Moody Brothers on lead vocals and guitars, bassist Jeff "Stick" Davis of Amazing Rhythm Aces and drummer Rick Lonow. The group recorded three albums, Georgia Peach, The Whole Enchilada and 2007's Disciples Of The Truth, which feature his last studio recordings. Kleinow's last performance was at a 2005 Gram Parsons tribute concert in Waycross, Georgia, the hometown of Gram Parsons.
BORN: AUGUST 20, 1934 SOUTH BEND, INDIANA
DIED: JANUARY 6, 2007
Roy Ayres began learning to play steel guitar at age 8 using an old Spanish guitar by inserting a pencil under the strings to serve as a raised nut. He tuned the guitar in the old "open E" tuning and used the handle from a broken table knife as a tone bar and a tooth broken out of a comb as a pick. His first "real" steel guitar, an inexpensive resonator guitar, was given to him on his thirteenth birthday, December 10, 1942, by his parents. He began a career that has lasted more than 60 years by trying to emulate his then idol, Pete Kirby -- better known as Bashful Brother Oswald of Roy Acuff's Smokey Mountain Boys -- on the old country song "Fireball Mail." Roy soon became proficient enough to begin playing concerts (then called "show dates" and "jamborees") in local schools and court houses in the Mobile, Alabama area with a small group of local musicians. His first paid performance brought him a whopping seven dollars. As this was during World War II, most musicians of age 18 or over were in the military services, so police officials "looked the other way" when, at age 14, Roy began playing local night clubs in the Mobile area seven nights each week, earning $10.00 each night. About then he replaced the resonator guitar with a six-string Supro electric steel guitar he purchased from a pawn shop in Mobile.
Near the end of the war, Roy's family moved back to their original home in Columbus, Mississippi where Roy began playing on a daily radio show on WCBI with a group called the Midsouth Ramblers. After about a year, Red Stanton, bandleader in Meridian, Mississippi, hired Roy at a salary of $45 per week to play a daily radio show on WCOC and week-end bookings in various night clubs and dance halls. The war ended while Roy was in Meridian, and musical instrument manufacturers resumed production of steel guitars, so Roy purchased a double-neck National steel guitar.
At age seventeen Roy joined Pee Wee King and the Golden West Cowboys and moved to Nashville, Tennessee where Pee Wee's band performed weekly on the Grand Ole Opry. Shortly after joining Pee Wee, Roy played steel guitar on the original recording of "The Tennessee Waltz" which soon went to the top of the country music charts, then was recorded by Patti Page and became the third biggest record seller of all time. As a result of the band's unique style of western swing and the success of a number of their recordings, the Golden West Cowboys were honored by Cash Box magazine's award for "Nation's Number One Western Band" two years in succession. Pee Wee moved the band to Louisville, Kentucky about two years after Roy joined the band, where they did a weekly television show and a daily radio show on WAVE. Roy proudly displays on his living room wall a rare WAVE "Television Pioneer" award for having performed on the first television show ever broadcast in Kentucky or Indiana. Roy also found time to teach several intermediate and advanced steel guitarists while living in Louisville. Roy remained with the Golden West Cowboys for more than eight years, during which time he played steel on several other hit records, including "Slow Poke", "Bonaparte's Retreat" and "You Belong To Me". He also doubled on lead guitar and played "twin guitar" harmony parts with Bobby Koefer on the well known "Swing West" RCA album. While with the Golden West Cowboys Roy wrote several songs, including "Crazy Waltz" that was recorded by Pee Wee King, Helen O'Connel and Gizelle McKinsey and Dave Cavanaugh's orchestra. Roy resigned from the Golden West Cowboys in 1954 to care for his terminally ill father.
During his tenure with the Golden West Cowboys, Roy cut scores of record sessions at the King Record Company with numerous artists such as Cowboy Copas, Redd Stewart, Hawkshaw Hawkins, and Moon Mullican.
After his father's death, he joined Boyd Bennett and his Rockets, where he played steel guitar on ballads, trombone on Dixieland songs, and lead guitar on rock-and-roll songs. Several rock-and-roll hits recorded by Boyd such as "Seventeen", "My Boy Flat Top", and "High School Hop" featured lead guitar solos by Roy. Roy was the songwriter on Boyd's rock-and-roll records "High School Hop" and "Let Me Love You".
After two years of travelling about the country with the Rockets, Roy decided that his wife and two-year-old daughter, Sondra, were more important to him than the spotlight of the entertainment world, so he enrolled in college at the University of Louisville in 1956 where he spent 5 years earning B.S. and M.S. degrees in physics. During his college years, he played in local night clubs in the Louisville area.
After completing his formal education, Roy spent eight years in California as an aerospace physicist, after which he joined the Fender Musical Instrument Company where he remained for about two years as Director of String Instrument Development. He left California when his daughter, Sondra, was about to enter high school and moved to Texas where his family could enjoy a more provencial lifestyle. He spent the next seven and one-half years as Director of Building And Zoning for the City of Garland Texas, five years in the same position in the City of Clearwater, Florida, seven years as a consultant to local governments in Florida and Georgia developing custom software for building and zoning departments, finally completing his professional career when he retired as Clay County Florida's Zoning Director. His retirement and the Clay County position followed ten years of service as County Manager (CEO) of Bradford County, Florida. He and his wife, Laurie, now live in Riverview, Florida.
Upon his retirement in 2003, Roy purchased a Sierra Artist D10 8 + 4 and turned his attention to regular practice in an attempt to regain at least some of the manual dexterity he once had. Then at the 2004 International Steel Guitar Convention, Roy was very pleasantly surprised when Bill Stafford, Mitsuo Fugii and Laurie sang "Happy Birthday" as they unveiled a brand new custom built Excel Superb S10 6 + 4 with a lock-in lever that effectively gives him a double necked steel. Laurie had found Roy's specifications for his "dream guitar" on his computer and, without his knowledge, ordered the new steel for him as a birthday present for his 75th birthday. Roy's first "gig" on his new Excel was at the Hawaiian Show in St. Louis at the 2004 Convention.
BORN: DECEMBER 10, 1929 COLUMBUS, MISSISSIPPI
Julian Tharpe was a solo artist, record producer, songwriter, band leader and a master of the fourteen string steel guitar. This guitar covered a full 3 octaves in the open position. He was one of the first players to perfect the “speed picking” style with extreme dexterity and he executed the most difficult passages with ease – which still remains unequaled to this day.
BORN: MARCH 28, 1937 SKIPPERVILLE, ALABAMA
DIED: NOV. 1994
In his early career, Norm played with various western swing bands including Bob Wills and the Texas Playboys. During his career he became a songwriter, teacher and bandleader. Among his credits are numerous awards, induction to the Western Swing Society Hall of Fame in Sacramento, CA. Norm teamed up with Merle Haggard, playing on five of his albums and has remained with Merle for 39 years and is still active.
BORN: FEBRUARY 27, 1935 WOODVILLE, CALIFORNIA
Don’s initial fascination with the steel guitar began in 1948. Legendary Western-Swing performer Bob Wills use of the steel guitar in his band, “The Texas Playboys” inspired Don to purchase his first steel guitar. Before playing the steel guitar, Don learned how to play the rhythm guitar.
During his High School years Don formed his own band, “The Rhythm Rangers,” playing steel guitar and providing vocals. In addition to running his band, Don hosted an early morning radio show on KWPM out of West Plains, Missouri while working as an announcer and disc jockey in the afternoons.
The Rhythm Rangers worked at several radio stations such as KBOA in Kennett, Missouri and KWHN in Fort Smith, Arkansas, gaining exposure to a broader audience.
After working with country artists Red Sovine and The Wilburn Brothers at The Louisiana Hayride in Shreveport, Louisiana, Don left the show to serve our country in 1951. While in the army, Don was stationed in the Army Security Agency in Washington D.C., and Boston, MA.
Two years later, after being let out of the service, Don returned to the Louisiana Hayride with Red to perform on the show. The Louisiana Hayride is notorious for helping launch the careers of many American music greats such as Hank Williams, Webb Pierce, Kitty Wells, Jimmie Davis, Will Strahan, Slim Whitman, Floyd Cramer, Sonny James, Hank Snow, Faron Young, Jim Reeves, and George Jones.
After receiving an offer to work on the Grand Ole Opry, Red moved to Nashville leaving his band behind. Following Red’s departure, Don moved to St. Louis, Missouri to attend flight school at the expense of the US army. While studying for his pilot’s license, Don played clubs in the area on the weekends.
After receiving his pilot’s license, Don returned to his hometown of West Plains, Missouri to spend time with his parents. While visiting West Plains, Don drove up to Springfield to reminisce with his fellow musician friends at radio station, KWTO. It was there that Don first met Porter Wagoner. Porter offered Don an invitation to play steel in his band at the Ozark Jubilee in Springfield, Missouri on the ABC television network, and Don accepted.
In 1957 Don moved to Nashville, Tennessee to perform on The Grand Ole Opry with Porter, and in 1960 Porter began his syndicated television show, “The Porter Wagoner Show” which ran on over 120 television stations. Don worked with Porter for over twenty years as his longtime manager and steel guitar player. The infamous show is also known for giving singer/songwriter, country music superstar Dolly Parton her first big break in the music business. Dolly performed on the show for seven years before leaving Porter to pursue a solo career. Her heartbreaking yet honest signature tune, “I Will Always Love You” was written about Porter and her departure from the show.
Working with Porter Wagoner gave Don the opportunity to travel all over the US playing shows such as The Wheeling Jamboree and Big D Jamboree in Dallas, Texas, Town Hall Party in Los Angeles, California, and The Old Dominion Barn Dance in Richmond, Virginia, as well as travelling overseas to Europe and most provinces of Canada performing shows to international audiences.
On September 1st, 1975, Don began working for Dolly Parton as her full-time manager. This long-lasting relationship both professional and personal has created many years of precious memories and mutual respect amongst the two. Having the utmost admiration for Don, Parton has referred to Warden as her “mentor,” and someone whom she trusts for advice and confides in when in doubt. Don is often thought of as “The Genius behind Dolly Parton.” This coming fall Don will celebrate his 33rd year working with Dolly!
Don bought the first steel guitar made by the Sho-Bud company. The original Sho-Bud steel guitar that Don owned and played for many years is now on display at The Grand Ole Opry museum in Nashville, Tennessee. The Sho-Bud steel guitar is preferred by Don, and he still plays that brand of steel guitar today.
This past April, Don showcased his exceptional talents once again as he played steel guitar for the first time in thirty-four years. Don backed Dolly for her tribute show in honor of the late Porter Wagoner at her Dollywood theme park nestled in the smoky mountains of East Tennessee. (Pigeon Forge to be exact.) It was on the stage that very afternoon that Don was presented with a beautiful trophy from Dolly commemorating his many years of employment with her,
BORN: MARCH 27, 1929 MOUNTAIN GROVE, MISSOURI
Barbara’s mother taught her how to play the accordion and read music. When Mandrell was almost 7, her parents moved the family to California. By 10, she was studying steel guitar with Norman Hamlet and learning alto saxophone in the school band. Six months later, her father took her to Chicago for a music trade convention where her steel guitar talents caught the attention of Joe Maphis, who added her to his Las Vegas show that opened a few days later. At 11, Mandrell started her professional music career.
After becoming a regular on the weekly Los Angeles TV show "Town Hall Party," Mandrell made her national TV debut in 1961 on ABC with Red Foley's "Five Star Jubilee." That led to her first concert tour as part of "The Johnny Cash Show," which featured Johnny Cash, June Carter, Patsy Cline and George Jones.
The Mandrell Family Band, formed when Mandrell was in eighth grade, entertained exclusively for the military throughout her high school years. In 1963, at 15, Mandrell recorded her first single, "Queen for a Day." She also fell in love with the band's first drummer, Ken Dudney, whom she married on May 28, 1967. At 18, Mandrell retired from music to become a Navy wife in Whidbey Island, Wash. However, before their first wedding anniversary, Dudney received orders to ship out, so he sent his wife to stay with her family, who had moved to Tennessee.
In the summer of 1968, during a visit with her father to the Grand Ole Opry, Mandrell was inspired to resume performing and asked her father to manage her again. Signing with Billy Sherrill and Columbia Records in 1969, she charted with a remake of Otis Redding's "I've Been Loving You Too Long." A year later, she reached No. 13 with "Playin' Around With Love." Success continued with "After Closing Time" (a 1970 duet with David Houston), "Tonight My Baby's Coming Home" (1971) and "Show Me" (1972). That same year, at 23, Mandrell joined the Grand Ole Opry and in 1973 had her first No. 1 single with "The Midnight Oil."
In 1975, Mandrell moved to ABC/Dot Records (later MCA Records). She and producer Tom Collins achieved success with "Standing Room Only," "Married But Not to Each Other," "That's What Friends Are For" and "Woman to Woman." Mandrell hit No. 1 for two weeks in 1978 with "Sleeping Single in a Double Bed" and repeated in 1979 with "(If Loving You Is Wrong) I Don't Want to Be Right" and "Years." Her hit singles in the '80s included "Crackers," "Best of Strangers" and "In Times Like These," among others. Mandrell reached No. 1 three more times with "Till You're Gone," "One of a Kind Pair of Fools" and "I Was Country When Country Wasn't Cool," her signature song.
Mandrell guested in 1978 on the Lucille Ball TV special "Lucy Comes to Nashville." One year later, she appeared on the TV series "Rockford Files" and "Concrete Cowboys" as well as in the TV movies "Murder in Music City" and "Skinflint: A Country Christmas Carol."
In 1980, she joined with sisters Louise and Irlene to host "Barbara Mandrell and The Mandrell Sisters" on NBC. The one-hour variety series reached 40 million viewers on a weekly basis and earned a combined 11 Emmy and Golden Globe nominations. Mandrell also appeared on TV specials that included "Bob Hope's All-Star Birthday Party," "John Schneider: Back Home" and "Lawrence Welk" (all in 1980) and "Battle of the Network Stars," "Bob Hope Funny Valentine Special" and the TV movie "Country Gold" (all in 1981).
After being diagnosed with vocal strain, Mandrell ended her TV series in 1982 and subsequently recorded an inspirational album, He Set My Life to Music. The title cut earned Mandrell a Grammy Award in 1982 for Best Inspirational Performance. She won a second Grammy in 1983 for Best Soul Gospel Performance by a Duo or Group for her duet with Bobby Jones, "I'm So Glad I'm Standing Here Today."
Mandrell received CMA Female Vocalist of the Year Awards in 1979 and 1981. In 1980, she became the third female artist to be named CMA Entertainer of the Year. One year later, she became the first artist to win the CMA Entertainer of the Year Award two years in a row.
Throughout the '80s, Mandrell received six American Music Awards: one for Favorite Country Single ("Sleeping Single in a Double Bed") in 1980 and five for Favorite Female Country Artist in 1981, 1983-1985 and 1987. In addition, she received nine People's Choice Awards, including Favorite Female Musical Performer (1982, 1985), Favorite Female Personality (1982) and Favorite All-Around Female Performer (1982-1987). In 1981, People named her on its "25 Most Intriguing List."
She returned to TV in 1983 with her concert special, "Barbara Mandrell: The Lady is a Champ" on HBO. A year later she released Meant for Each Other, a duet album with Lee Greenwood, which yielded the No. 1, "To Me." Mandrell co-starred with Tom Wopat in the TV movie "Burning Rage" and was tapped to host two "Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus" TV specials for CBS.
Mandrell charted several Top 10 hits in the '80s, including "There's No Love in Tennessee," "Angel in Your Arms" and "Fast Lanes and Country Roads." Her duet with The Oak Ridge Boys, "When You Get to the Heart," reached the Top 20. With Capitol Records in 1987, she released "I Wish That I Could Fall in Love Today" (No.5) and "My Train of Thought (Keeps Runnin')" (No. 19). She also starred in two CBS TV specials: "Barbara Mandrell: Something Special" (1985) and the Emmy-winning "Barbara Mandrell's Christmas: A Family Reunion" (1986).
In 1990, Mandrell issued a best-selling autobiography, Get to the Heart: My Story. This memoir was made into a highly-rated TV movie starring Maureen McCormick that aired on CBS in 1997. Mandrell's acting credits extended with guest roles on several TV series, including "Empty Nest" (1993), "The Commish," (1994), "Dr. Quinn Medicine Woman" (1996), "Touched by an Angel" (1996, 1998), "Diagnosis Murder" (1997), "Love Boat: The Next Wave" (1998) and "Walker, Texas Ranger" (2000). She played a recurring character on the daytime drama "Sunset Beach" (1997-1998) and acted in two additional TV movies "The Wrong Girl" (1999) and "Stolen from the Heart" (2000). In 1995, she also starred in her own TV special, "Steppin' Out."
In 1997, after releasing her last studio album, Mandrell announced that she was ending her Country Music career. Her final concert was filmed at the Grand Ole Opry House in October for a highly-rated TNN concert special, "Barbara Mandrell and the Do-Rites: The Last Dance."
BORN: DECEMBER 25, 1948 HOUSTON, TEXAS