Lloyd Green, Ralph Mooney, Buddy Emmons, Winnie Winston, Hank DeVito - recognize any of these names? Chances are, unless you have a great affection for classic country and western or an obsession for the pedal steel guitar, you haven't. I happen to suffer from both of the aforementioned so I've decided to make this mix a nod to the pedal steel guitar greats that have helped give that special something to so many amazing songs.
1. Ralph Mooney: Originally a studio musician for Capitol Records in the 50's and 60's, Ralph Mooney can be heard on more than a handful of Merle Haggard's hits. In the 70's though, Waylon Jennings was smart enough to grab Moon as his sideman until his retirement in the 90's. Here he is on Waylon's classic hit "Rainy Day Woman"
2. Ralph Mooney: While we're listening to Ralph Mooney, let's listen to this gem he cut with one of my personal favorites, Merle Haggard and "I Threw Away The Rose"
3. Lloyd Green: Playing on over 115 number one hits and over 100 top ten hits, Lloyd Green (a.k.a Mr. Nashville) has played with over 500 artists. Here's a live clip with Charley Pride on the Lawrence Welk show from 1967 and Lloyd Green making the steel look easy.
4. Buddy Emmons: The man that actually helped to create the way modern pedal steel guitars work and a resume that ranges from Ernest Tubb and Judy Collins to Linda Ronstadt and the Everly Brothers, here's an instrumental of Jimmy Webb's "Witchita Lineman".
5. Winnie Winston: Here's some live footage of Winnie Winston playing "Steel Guitar Rag". Before the song starts, he speaks a little about how the steel works and goes on to tell a great joke about a conversation he had with Buddy Emmons. Every pedal steel player I've met sites the book that Winnie wrote with Bill Keith as being the only book you really need if you're going to try to tackle the instrument. Here's a fun clip from "The guy who wrote The Book".
6. Jon Graboff: A good majority of " all things pedal steel" in my life have come about from getting to know and write music with this guy for my own band, OCEAN CAROLINA. In the process of picking his brain and doing my own research, I continue to be amazed with the way he floats between the styles of more than a handful of classic steel players but still ends up sounding like one thing: Jon Graboff. Here's a clip from a BBC 4 session he recorded with the Cardinals of "My Winding Wheel".
9. Lloyd Green: Ok, I gave Mooney a couple so I really need to balance this thing out. Here's a cut called "Running Bear" from Green's solo album entitled "Moody River". I wonder how hard it was to get that steel in the canoe?
7. BJ Cole: The English steel player, BJ has played with a list of people that is absolutely amazing. Don't believe me? Check his Wiki. This guy is so versatile he stepped in and finished The Verve's tour when Nick McCabe quit the band. Here he is playing on Mojave 3's "Baby's Coming Home". Make sure you listen to the end when he takes the whole tune home.
8. Jerry Garcia: Yes, I know if you're not into the Dead that name might not interest you, but Jerry also played the steel and he does a great job on Crosby Stills and Nash's "Teach Your Children.
10. Dan Dugmore: Dan's break on Linda Ronstadt's cover of "Blue Bayou" pretty much sums up the title of this mix:
11. Hank DeVito: Hank was part of Emmylou's Hot Band. Here's some footage of "I'll Be Your San Antone Rose from 1978.
12. Ben Keith: Ben Keith became Neil Young's pedal steel guitarist when Neil traveled to Nashville to create the album "Harvest". He has a style all his own, but the best description I've read comes from Neil's bio "Shakey" where someone says Keith's playing sounds like "the fog coming in at dawn" Here's "Already One" from the album "Comes A Time".
Well, that's going to wrap up my post. I feel like I hardly scratched the surface, but hopefully this mix is a good start for anybody that has been curious about the instrument. Here's a photo of my own steel guitar made by the really fine folks at Show Pro.
Thanks to Smashley for having me here,
Michael Simone (OCEAN CAROLINA)
Michael Simone (OCEAN CAROLINA)