Hello fans and fellow players,
As most of you know by now, we have lost the Queen of Country Music and I don’t mean Bill Anderson. God love Kitty Wells. I miss her as we all here in Nashville do, but somehow I feel the greatness of this star will never be truly gone.
When I think of her, I think of listening to her on the jukebox when I was in the Air Force. Stu Basore and I used to go into town and stop at drive-in restaurants and divide our money between hearing Kitty on the jukebox and pecan pie and ice cream.
I think about all the great steel players that have worked for her. Shot Jackson was the player on so many of her hits. When I moved to Nashville, Stu Basore was a year or so ahead of me and he got the Kitty Wells job as soon as the position opened up.
This thrilled me tremendously as I was a great fan of one and friend of the other.
Not long after I moved to Nashville to try to find my fame and fortune, Russ Hicks went to work with Kitty. Soon afterward, Jimmy Crawford to the position. He was one of several of the great players that held the reigns in that steel guitar playing job.
Kitty was one of the rare people in Nashville that I have never worked for myself, but everyone that ever worked for her, all the way up to George Edwards, was a great friend.
I’m relishing some of the shorts that they’re showing on television of Kitty and Stu playing his little Fender 1200 with Howard White standing behind him on his Sho-Bud number four guitar.
I’ll always miss having missed the chance to work with Kitty. It’s a hole in my career I wish I could go back and fill. I really loved the purity of her country music. Since all her steel players were very close friends of mine, I learned much about the inner workings of the Kitty Wells road show. There was nothing pretentious about Kitty or her friendship.
I’m going to turn the rest of this newsletter over to Bob Hempker. It’s all yours Bob.
Anybody who has even the slightest bit of interest in country music knows who Kitty Wells is. Every aspiring female country western singer, in my opinion, should spend some time listening to Kitty Wells’ recordings and studying them. She is the true queen of country music.
I remember Loretta Lynn’s very first album on the Zero Label she recorded in Washington State. She sounded somewhat like Kitty Wells. You could distinctly hear the Kitty Wells influence in her voice.
When I was a kid growing up in Lima, Ohio, Kitty Wells, Johnny and Jack and Jerry Byrd were performing one of their road dates in my hometown. My guitar teacher, Ron Dearth, took me backstage after the show. I was twelve years old and I met Don Helms, Jerry Byrd and Shot Jackson all in one night. I met the whole cast of the show, but it was the steel players I really wanted to meet. Needless to say, I was on cloud nine.
Ten years or so later when I got the job with Loretta, I learned that she had the utmost admiration and respect for Kitty Wells. Loretta still today corrects people if they refer to her as the queen of country music and tells them Kitty Wells is the queen of country music. That’s how deep her respect and admiration goes.
Both of these ladies are majestic icons of country music. I’ve had the privilege of meeting one and working and being close friends with the other as Loretta feels like a sister to me.
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Steel Guitar Nashville
123 Mid Town Court
Hendersonville, TN. 37075
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