Hello fans and fellow players,
With tomorrow being Thanksgiving, the Thursday newsletter is going out a day early. We will be closed tomorrow of course and closed on Friday as well. We’ll be back in full swing as usual on Monday.
My dear friend, legendary guitarist Paul Yandell has passed on. This hit me extra hard because not only did Paul live near the store and come by to see me very often, but was a dear friend since I met him in 1955. He was playing with the Louvin Brothers and came through a town where I was living. I rode my Vespa motor scooter to see the show that he was working on with the Louvin Brothers and Elvis Presley.
Elvis opened the show as he was not very well known at the time. I watched the entire show from the front row and after the show, I went backstage to shake this great players hand. I at first ran across Scotty Moore who had just played with Elvis, complimented him on his playing which made him shake his head and say, “You better go talk to that guy playing with the Louvin Brothers. He’s the great player on this show.”
So I did. He had just done the Louvin Brothers sessions and played Merle Travis, Chet Atkins style guitar on the hit records Cash On The Barrelhead, When I Stop Dreaming and he played Wildwood Flower for his instrumental on the show. He was an astounding fingerstyle guitarist and received accolades from the great Joe Edwards who was also on the show.
A few years later when I moved to Nashville, I was leader on several sessions and got to hire the musicians around me. I called Paul first, so we worked many sessions together in the early seventies. Then as time went by and I got to be better known, Paul hired me on several recording jobs that he was doing. He eventually got me in with Chet.
We also did many live jobs together. Our friendship continued to grow. Then he disappeared one day when he was scooped up by the great Chet Atkins to be Chet’s helper and road player. Of course when Chet died 26 years later, it sort of left Paul without much to do.
I know he and Jerry Reed worked together on several jobs, but this was about the time when age starts creeping into a great musicians playing along with arthritis, so about the only playing he did was coming by my store and jamming with me.
We’d talk about the years he’d spent with Chet, his first years on the Opry and his traveling with the Louvin Brothers. He also worked for several years with the Kitty Wells and Johnny Wright show with the great steel guitarist Stu Basore also in the band.
I know what you may be thinking by now. Why am I giving so much space to a guitar player in a steel guitar newsletter? Because he was the dear friend of many steel players and especially myself. He was a greatly loved player that had more talent than anyone would believe, a meticulous player that played any style flawlessly.
His favorite guitars over the years were Fender Stratocasters, the Gretsch Country Gentleman and of course, any of the big bodied Gibsons with the F holes. Paul is another player I’ll miss forever. He was a great friend and a great inspiration to me.
The Hall of Fame artist I’d like to mention this week was the Porter Waggoner player Don Warden, one of the very simplest pedal guitar players I have ever loved. I would laugh at Don kind of under my breath, but when it came to playing the hits that he was on, I was right there to play exactly what he played.
I really liked his extremely simple way of playing steel. Nothing complicated, nothing big, however hearing those strings stretch from E to A with his one pedal just sounded so cotton-pickin’ good. He was definitely the leader in the world of simple pedal players. I don’t know Don personally, however talking to many of his friends, I have heard nothing but good about him and have much respect for what he did.
One of my favorite songs that he played on was Satisfied Mind with the great Porter Waggoner. He played things that anybody could play, but he’s the one that came up with them and it was that kind of playing that kept him working with Porter, along beside Buck Trent, Speck Rhodes, Mack Magaha and Dolly Parton.
Don stood up like the rest of the band members and played a one pedal custom built by Shot Jackson Sho-Bud Permanent. Weird tone, but that could’ve been the amplifier. He had one pedal on the right end of the steel and played all the arrangements on this single eight string custom built guitar. This guitar turned out to be the first Sho-Bud ever built. Buddy built the body and Shot built the rest of the guitar.
I remember going through Hendersonville one day in 1970 riding with a famous steel guitarist when we passed Don in his Cadillac Eldorado at the main intersection downtown. This player looked toward Don and said, “There he is right there!”
I said, “Where?”
He said, “In that Cadillac Eldorado convertible.”
My response was, “Here we are, a couple of the hottest players in Nashville, Tennessee riding around in an old Ford and there goes one pedal Don in his Eldorado convertible and you know he’s laughing at us. He should be a lesson to us. Don’t play too complicated or we’ll play ourselves right out of a Cadillac.”
We both laughed and have had tremendous respect for Don ever since. Don has been road manager for Dolly Parton for the past many years and you know that job couldn’t be too bad.
Check out our monthly specials at www.steelguitar.net/monthlyspecials.html and we’ll try to save you a lot of money.
Steel Guitar Nashville
123 Mid Town Court
Hendersonville, TN. 37075
Open 9AM – 4PM Monday – Friday
Closed Saturday and Sunday