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Jerry Byrd

October 24, 1988 OHC48 120 min.


Steel guitarist. Born March 29, 1920. Died April 11, 2005. Career most active 1930s-1960s. Full name Gerald Lester Byrd. Recognized as one of country music’s most influential steel guitarists. Began work as a radio and stage performer and later moved to session and television work. Appeared on the Grand Ole Opry and the Renfro Valley Barn Dance. Worked with several notable country performers, including Red Foley and George Morgan. Recorded several solo album projects, including “Steelin’ the Blues.” Left country music in the early 1970s to move to Hawaii and focus on Hawaiian music. Member, Steel Guitar Hall of Fame.

Interview Summary

1988 October 24
(2 hours)
Steel guitarist Jerry Byrd gives an overview of his career in country music. Discussion includes his introduction to the steel guitar; description of the early steel guitars; his first guitars; his musical influences; his first band and his start in radio; working on the Renfro Valley Barn Dance; his interest in Hawaiian music; his development of tunings; working with John Lair; working with Red Foley; working in the recording studio; the Midwestern Hayride; recording “Lovesick Blues” with Hank Williams; working on television; working for George Morgan; experiences recording his albums; the move to television and session work; the impact of the pedal steel guitar on his career; and his career move to Hawaii.

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