Ray Edenton

“Nashville’s musical legacy is elevated by Ray Edenton’s rock-solid, highly inventive rhythm guitar. He was a significant factor in more than 10,000 recording sessions.” —Kyle Young, CEO

“Nashville’s musical legacy is elevated by Ray Edenton’s rock-solid, highly inventive rhythm guitar. He developed new guitar tunings to create sounds that had not been heard before, and he played guitar parts that enhanced famed recordings including the Everly Brothers’ “Bye Bye Love” and “Wake Up Little Susie,” Roger Miller’s “King of the Road,” Webb Pierce’s “There Stands the Glass,” Marty Robbins’s “Singing the Blues,” and Neil Young’s Nashville-produced album Comes a Time. He was a significant factor in more than 10,000 recording sessions. In 2007, the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum honored him as a “Nashville Cat,” a designation that celebrates musicians of great consequence. Ray is one of the many hidden heroes of Music City, and the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum was always eager to shine a light on his virtuosity and ingenuity.”

—Kyle Young, CEO
Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum

Photo: Ray Edenton in a recording session at Columbia Studio B in Nashville. 1960s Hubert Long Collection, Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum

View Ray Edenton’s 2007 Nashville Cats interview with host Bill Lloyd and learn about Edenton’s rich and varied career as a key session musician in Nashville.



Ray Edenton

b. Mineral, Virginia, November 3, 1926; d. September 21, 2022


Ray Quarles Edenton was one of those Nashville studio musicians whose rhythm playing seldom stood out on records but whose subtle skills made him an essential contributor to hundreds of hits from the 1950s through the 1970s. As a boy, he began performing on radio programs in Virginia and Maryland before World War II and after returning from the army in 1946. Edenton then served as bassist with guitarist Joe Maphis in the Korn Krackers at the WRVA Old Dominion Barn Dance in Richmond. In 1949, Edenton began working at WNOX in Knoxville.


After a two-year convalescence from tuberculosis, Edenton moved to Nashville in 1952 and started playing acoustic rhythm guitar at the Grand Ole Opry. His first sessions came in 1953. Since few Nashville artists were then recording with drums, Edenton’s style, emulating a snare drum, was viewed as a useful rhythmic component and impressed many producers. One of the first hits reflecting his efforts was the Kitty Wells–Red Foley hit duet “One by One.” Though he rarely soloed, Edenton did play the memorable electric guitar lead on Marty Robbins’s 1956 hit “Singing the Blues.”


The arrival of rock & roll briefly reduced Edenton’s studio work. However, along with Chet Atkins and Hank Garland, he became an integral part of the Everly Brothers’ recorded sound in the 1950s and early 1960s. Edenton joined Don Everly in playing the hard-strummed acoustic rhythm guitar on crossover hits such as “Bye Bye Love” and “Wake Up Little Susie.”  His contributions to the duo’s records increased his session calls, and after Garland’s disabling 1961 automobile accident Edenton became part of the triumvirate of Nashville guitar players who worked countless recording dates together. Garland had specialized in jazz leads, a role that Harold Bradley resumed after Garland’s accident. Grady Martin played funkier solos, and Edenton moved into Bradley’s former spot handling rhythm guitar work. Edenton’s nuanced rhythm playing long made him a key member of Nashville’s studio A-Team. He retired in 1991.


—Rich Kienzle
From the Country Music Hall of Fame® and Museum’s Encyclopedia of Country Music, published by Oxford University Press.

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