INFLUENTIAL PIANISTS IN COUNTRY/AMERICANA MUSIC:
Albert Green "Al" Hopkins 1889-1932
Coined term "hillbilly music"
Recorded 1925 session for OKeh
In 1927, his group became first "country" musicians to perform in NYC and later for a US President (Calvin Coolidge)
Lillian Hardin Armstrong 1898-1971
Influenced by Jelly Roll Morton
Played piano on Jimmie Rodgers' recording of "Blue Yodel No. 9" accompanied by her husband, trumpeter Louis Armstrong on July 16, 1930
Composed "Just For A Thrill" which became a hit for Ray Charles in 1959
Fred "Papa" Calhoun 1904-19__
Influenced by Jelly Roll Morton and Earl Hines
Considered the first pianist in Western Swing, working w/Milton Brown and his Brownies and Bob Wills' Light Crust Doughboys in 1932
Alton Meeks "Al" Strickland 1908-1986
Influenced by Earl Hines
Helped refine Honky-Tonk and Western Swing styles
Worked w/Bob Wills and his Texas Playboys
Papa or "Poppa" John Gordy 1904-1961
Led Dixieland bands in Nashville
Composed "Salty Dog Rag"
Influenced Hargus Robbins, Chet Atkins, among others
Aubrey "Moon" Mullican 1909-1967
Hillbilly Boogie style w/blues edge
His playing predated Rock 'n Roll and influenced Jerry Lee Lewis, Elvis Presley, Bill Haley, Jim Reeves, Hank Williams
John "Smokey" Wood
Worked w/The Modern Mountaineers and Smokey Wood and His Wood Chips
Owen Bradley 1915-1988
Played piano and organ
As producer, one of the architects of "Nashville Sound"
Head of Decca's Nashville division
Produced for Kitty Wells, Patsy Cline, kdlang's Shadowland
Floyd Cramer 1933-1997
Among the most refined country pianists; with an elegant, graceful touch
Perfected "slip-note" piano style (adaptation of pedal steel pitch-bending and guitar hammer-on to the keyboard)
Recorded w/Elvis Presley (Heartbreak Hotel), Patsy Cline (Crazy, Heartaches, Your Cheatin' Heart), Roy Orbison, Jim Reeves
Considered one of the architects of "Nashville Sound"
Single "Last Date" was #2 hit on pop charts in 1960
Toured extensively w/Chet Atkins and Homer "Boots" Randolph
Hargus "Pig" Robbins 1938-present
Considered Nashville's top session pianist
Early recognition came in 1959 on George Jones' "White Lightning"
Would later record w/Patsy Cline (Shoes, I Fall To Pieces, A Poor Man's Roses, Lovin' In Vain, Strange), Loretta Lynn, Dolly Parton, Tanya Tucker (Delta Dawn), Willie Nelson, Tammy Wynette (Stand By Your Man), Charlie Rich (Behind Closed Doors), John Denver, Randy Travis among others
In 1966 played on Bob Dylan's Blonde on Blonde
Recorded w/many other pop artists incl. Joan Baez, Peter Paul & Mary, Tom Jones, Everly Bros
Ray Charles 1930-2004
As teen, played in Tampa "hillbilly" band called Florida Playboys
1965 Modern Sounds in Country and Western Music considered one of the best albums of all time, including Grammy hit "I Can't Stop Loving You"
Marvin Hughes ___ -1986
Known for "creating" Nashville number system for chord charts
Recorded w/Elvis Presley and Johnny Cash in 1950s, Grand Ole Opry Shows, Chet Atkins, Hank Snow, Everly Bros.
Professor at Tennessee State Univ. who became the second African-American to join the Nashville Symphony
Jazz guitarist Jim Hall studied theory and harmony with him
Played violin on hundreds of dates incl. legendary Patsy Cline sessions
Played jazz piano & violin w/Nashville All-Stars' After the Riot At Newport
Country Gospel player who worked as a TV weatherman in Nashville
Played w/Oak Ridge Quartet (1949), Jordanaires (1952), Statesmen Quartet, Boots Randolph
recorded with Hank Williams (Half As Much, 1952)
Hugh "Gordon" Stoker 1924-present
Joined the Jordanaires at age 15
Worked extensively in Memphis (w/"Memphis Boys" rhythm section) as well as Nashville
Recorded w/Hank Snow, Elvis Presley, Wilson Pickett, Kris Kristofferson, Willie Nelson, George Jones & Tammy Wynette, Garth Brooks
Jimmie Riddle 1918-1982
Joined Roy Acuff's Smokey Mountain Boys in 1939 on piano/harmonic, eephin' expert on Hee Haw
Dean Manuel 1934-1964
Worked w/Jim Reeves
Paul Griffin -2000
New York player w/Gospel and Blues background
In late 1950s worked w/King Curtis
Become one of the greatest session pianists of any genre, working w/Bob Dylan, Dionne Warwick, Wilson Pickett, Aretha Franklin, Steely Dan...
"Like A Rolling Stone", "Miss American Pie", "Raindrops Keep Fallin' On My Head", "Walk On By"
Merrill Moore 1923-2000
Early Rockabilly vocalist/pianist; recorded on Capitol
Roy Hall 1922-1984
Formed Cohutta Mountain Boys
Jimmy Pruett 1925-
Amazing blind pianist/guitarist who played on Town Hall Party, live talent TV show broadcast weekly from Compton CA during 1950s
Cliff "Skeeter" Elkin 1922-present
Bob Wills' pianist 1950-55
Western Swing piano and accordian
Charles "Charlie" Rich 1932 - 1995
Originally considered himself a jazz pianist. Became session player for Sun Records. Eventually known as an eclectic performer, singer and songwriter, his recordings from the 1960s (re-released as "Complete Smash Sessions") include some very soulful country piano.
Ronnie Lee Milsap 1943 -
Popular "crossover" artist influenced by Ray Charles. Voted Instrumentalist of the Year (keyboards) by the Academy of Country Music in 1988.
Del Wood (born Polly Adelaide Hendricks Hazelwood) 1920 - 1989
A lifetime resident of Nashville, she joined the Grand Ole Opry in 1953. Also known as the "Queen of the Ragtime Pianists".
Richard Carpenter 1946 -
Pianist/arranger and one half of the infamous "Carpenters". As a professional pianist in his teens, he made jazz trio recordings with his drummer sister Karen. Many of their commercially successful records popularized elements of country piano playing ("Top Of The World", "Reason To Believe", "Close To You").
Dewey Lindon "Spooner" Oldham 1943 -
Songwriter and country-rock session player who recorded with Aretha Franklin, Wilson Pickett, Janis Joplin, Linda Ronstadt, Neil Young.
Earl Poole Ball
(Nashville Session Pianist)
Glen D. Hardin
(Merle Haggard, Elvis, Emmylou Harris, Roy Orbison)
Commander Cody (aka George Frayne)
Sam "Jelly" Fits
(played on early Lefty Frizzell recordings)