Fred Shannon, Airplanes, more Jeff Newman

Hello fellow players,

This video link was sent to me by Fred Shannon and I thank him deeply for it.

I left Nashville Airport in my little white Piper PA28 in this video, I believe it was the day after we lost Jeff Newman. My flight to Lancaster, Texas was very uneventful. After I went to the steel guitar show in Dallas, played the show and received my gold colored Texas Steel Guitar Hall of Fame plaque and imposed on Texan Fred Shannon to take me back to the airport and I’m glad I asked him too.

Upon getting to the airport I found I had left the master switch on in my airplane that had a weak battery anyway. The starter would not turn the engine over, so wonderful Fred drove up to my airplane, jumped out, came around and asked me what was wrong. Upon telling him of my plight he said, “Well I’ll just hand prop the plane.”

Which he did as you can see here. This is no safe job for a 75 year old gentleman, Texan or not. His beautiful daughter took a video of it as it happened. I can’t believe the airplane caught about the second try, started and I proceeded to head for Nashville.

However, I got trapped in Texarkana in bad weather. The next morning I had to lock the brakes and controls, set the choke and magnetos along with the throttle correctly and spin it over all by myself. I did so and again it started fine. I had just bought a Garmin 496 which allowed me to see obstacles on the ground and made the trip back a non-event.

Any of you that would like to get on the Steel Guitar Forum and thank Fred Shannon for his help the day I left Dallas with my award, I would appreciate you doing so. This is as fine a gentleman as you’ll ever meet in steel guitar. Fred Shannon, you are the finest.

My future at the controls of this Piper is over as I sold the airplane two weeks ago. I also sold my Bonanza, but still have my Piper PA22-20-160. I’m sure most of you Piper guys can read what these numbers are.

I’d like to thank all of you for your comments on the nice letters we got on Jeff Newman and for letting me share them all with so many of the rest of you. When I duplicate emails that people send me for my newsletter, I send them just the way I get them. If there is something you don’t agree with, it should be between you and the composer of the email, not you and I.

That said, here is another email I got praising Jeff.

Dear Mr Seymour,

In your last Gazette, or in the one before the last, you appealed for stories about Mr Jeff Newman. I never knew him, but I often spoke to his wife Fran over the phone, when I ordered his CDs. Her customer service was just as impeccable as her husband’s teaching. She adhered strictly and honestly to what was published on the Web: “If you find that the material does not satisfy you, we’ll refund your purchase.” It was also announced that the educational material was not the cheapest available. However, considering the work that he must have put into making the tapes, later converted to CDs, it was far from expensive. The would-be steeler could not fail but be impressed with Mr Newman’s seriousness, his jacket, shirt and tie and shiny boots sported by a no-nonsense teacher.

The student had right away the conviction that he was going to learn something, which was not the case when my first steel guitar arrived and I watched the two-hour long video that came with it. I watched the video first and was profoundly discouraged by it. It would be unkind to mention who made that ghastly video, but it was mumbo jumbo and empty talk; not a chart of any description was in sight. The wretched thing was delivered without any paper support and in despair I fell asleep watching it. I bought all of Mr Newman’s material, except all the “wood-shed” steel accompaniment songs which were for a long, long time far beyond me. On one occasion, Mrs Newman sent me two CDs until I received one which worked. She is a lady who stands by her word.

The most striking aspect about the courses was the way in which they were all constructed to follow on from each other. Construction and the thought Mr Newman put into his approach were reassuring and designed to give the hard-working student the tools to help himself a little until the next notch up arrived. No other steel-teaching methods have come near to bringing the novice up to speed picking and understanding what was being taught. He had method and rigour, and the occasional laugh. Everything he produced showed that he had the knack of being able to put himself in the situation of the learner who knew nothing, but who was taught how to learn. Anything I know, I owe it to Mr Newman. I forget where he said it, but it was very pertinent, something to this effect: “Don’t waste your time trying to work something out for yourself, when it can be explained to you simply so that you can do the work yourself and understand what you are doing, and have to do, to become better.”

Enclosed an MP3 just finished – no masterpiece, but it kept me off the streets for a while.

Yours with the best of wishes as always in your thriving business with all those new Jackson guitars.


Thank you Tim for that wonderful email. We have lost way too many steel guitarists in the business for various reasons over the past five years. I deeply miss them all and most of them I will severely miss for the rest of my life. I think most of you feel the same way.

It’s been over a week since the great little steel guitar party we had. The memories of this steel guitar get-together will live long and I’m already looking forward to our next one. I don’t know if it will be in the summer sometime or if it will have to wait until next year, but whenever it is, be ready for it and be here.

Remember, it’s just a free get-together for all of us to have fun. A lot of music and your chance to talk directly to the manufacturers. David and I did not have a lot of chance to discuss the mechanics of the new Jackson, however we had several telephone conversations since he got back to the factory.

One thing I’m telling David is that we need steel guitars to be built with certain commonalities because we don’t want to have a parts problem with any of the new Jacksons. If he can standardize legs, pickups, tuning keys and several common parts, it will make it easier on anybody that services these guitars and easier for anyone that wants to modify or hotrod them.

Leaving lots of room open for these guitars to be modified will give us all the freedom to do what we want to personalize the guitars. This also gives David the option to use his incredible inventiveness to build better guitars when he sells them.

Talking to David over the weekend, I did pickup that he wants to keep the design of the new Jacksons light, simple and inexpensive and try to have them available whenever anybody wants one or two.

I don’t know how much I will be flying and playing in the future, but it sure will make it nice to have a small, light steel guitar to put in a four or six passenger airplane, as you folks that travel in SUVs also know. Space can be a problem as can weight on these long summer drives to these shows.

Check out our monthly specials at and we’ll try to save you a lot of money.

Your buddy,
Bobbe Seymour

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