Grady Martin / Bob Moore


Remember the mood setting guitar in El Paso? How about the driving bass in Big Iron? Or, the cool, forceful intro to Roy's Orbison's Pretty Woman? Who performed those Spanish style riffs on Marty Robbins' Gunfighter ballads? Those hard-driving musicians were Grady Martin and Bob Moore.

What guitarists of today wouldn't like to see the actual tablature from El Paso just as Grady did it in the studio in 1959? Bass tips from Bob Moore himself? Or, lead guitar hints from Grady Martin? Got your interest?

  • Grady Martin Tribute Page

  • Bob Moore's new wesbite
    Great history on Bob's recording career listed here.

  • Randy Fox article on Bob: Click here.

  • A-Team Honored



    Update, posted May, 2000

    From the Country Music Foundation's excellent "Encyclopedia of Country Music" (1998):

    Grady Martin

    b. Chapel Hill, Tennessee, January 17, 1929

    Grady Martin is one of the true legends of Nashville's original "A-Team" of studio musicians; his greatest strength was his versatility. Whether playing the fiddle or guitar - electric, acoustic, or six-string electric bass - his creativity helped to make hits of many records from the 1950s through the 1970s.

    Thomas Grady Martin was just fifteen when he joined Big Jeff & His Radio Playboys as their fiddler in 1944. In 1946 he joined Paul Howard's western swing-oriented Arkansas Cotton Pickers as half of Howard's "twin guitar" ensemble, along with Robert "Jabbo" Arrington. After Howard left the Grand Ole Opry, Opry newcomer Little Jimmy Dickens hired several former Cotton Pickers, including Martin, as his original Country Boys road band.

    Off the road, Martin began working recording sessions. He led Red Foley's band on the ABC-TV show Ozark Jubilee. Paying service to a strong business relationship with Decca A&R man Paul Cohen and his successor, Owen Bradley, Martin began to record instrumental singles and LPs for Decca, including a country-jazz instrumental LP as part of Decca's Country and Western Dance-O-Rama series. Martin recorded many more Decca recordings as lead for the Nashville pop band the Slew Foot Five.

    Martin's role as studio guitarist yielded numerous memorable moments. It was he who played the throbbing leads on Johnny Horton's 1956 hit "Honky Tonk Man," the exquisite nylon string guitar on Marty Robbins's 1959 crossover smash "El Paso," and Lefty Frizzell's 1964 "Saginaw Michigan." One of the most famous sessions was an accidental malfunction in mid-take when Grady played the distorted "fuzz" guitar solo on Robbins's 1960 hit "Don't Worry." Though studio musicians in those days rarely received credit for their work, Martin's efforts didn't go unnoticed. Producers often designated him "session leader," which meant he led the musicians and directed the impromptu arrangements that became a landmark of Nashville sessions. In other words, he often became the de-facto producer in the process.

    Martin continued to play sessions through the 1970s, working extensively with Conway Twitty and Loretta Lynn, and produced the country-rock band Brush Arbor. His funky leads helped to make a hit of Jeanne Pruett's 1973 "Satin Sheets." Martin eventually returned to performing, first with Jerry Reed and then with Willie Nelson's band, with whom he worked from 1980 to 1994. Martin became the first recipient of Nashville Music Association's Masters Award in 1983.

    --Rich Kienzle

    Bob and Hank Locklin in the studio in Nashville.

    Bob Moore Q & A:

    Posted Jaune 3, 2000
    What's the story 'bout Dorsey not playing on the Johnny Burnette Trio recordings? Please let me know.

    Dorsey did play on some of the Johnny Burnette Trio recordings. Bob Moore played on some too. What I do know ABSOLUTELY POSITIVELY is that Bob Moore was the Upright Bassist on the Johnny Burnette session dates of July 4, 1956 and March 22, 1957.

    There is a session noted in Bob's work book showing where he played a CBS show on July 5th 1956. (Lonesome Train) It seems odd that Buddy Harman and Grady Martin would have done the July 5th Johnny Burnette session and that Bob went and did a CBS show that paid only half as much as the session would have. Odd, but then it could be that Mr. Moore had already accepted the CBS show and therefore had to fulfill his obligation.

    Anyway, so far as I've been able to ascertain songs on the July 4th 1956 date on which Bob Moore played bass include:
    Please Don't Leave Me
    Rock Therapy
    Rockabilly Boogie
    March 22, 1957 titles include:
    Touch Me
    If You Want It Enough
    Eager Beaver Baby
    Notes from Owen Bradley's Log book on 3-22-57 are reported to also include the titles: Blues Stay Away From Me
    Look Pretty Baby

    - Kittra Moore

    Courtesy: Nashville Scene, posted June 7, 2000
    Most Valuable Player

    By Randy Fox

    Like many sidemen, Bob Moore left his mark on the Opry--and vice versa - Bob Moore doesn't remember the very first time he heard the Grand Ole Opry. Growing up in Nashville, the Opry was like humid summer days or hackberry trees--a natural part of the landscape. "From the time I was a little boy," Moore says, "I knew I wanted to be a musician, and I knew I was going to be on the Grand Ole Opry. I never thought anything else."

    Moore not only met his goal of becoming a musician and playing the Opry, but went on to become one of the most recorded musicians ever, with over 17,000 sessions to his credit. As a member of Nashville's "A-Team" of crack studio musicians, Moore's bass playing has graced hundreds of hit singles, from country to R&B, from pop to rock 'n' roll. But to Moore and many other musicians of his generation, the Opry remains the "mother church" of music.

    "I used to listen to it on the radio, but the first time I saw the Opry live, I was around 6 or 7. I remember going to the Tabernacle out on Fatherland. I was really impressed with it at that young age. I still can tell you who played that night, and I can close my eyes and still see it."

    Moore's association with the Opry would continue when he started his own shoeshine business at the age of 9. Setting up at the corner of Fifth and Broadway, he was literally working in the shadow of the Opry when it moved to the Ryman Auditorium in 1943. "Many of the musicians lived at the Clarkston Hotel," he recalls. "The main one I can remember getting started with was Jack Craig, Ernest Tubb's bass player. We became friends, and I used to ask him all kinds of questions about how to play a bass."

    Moore's first appearance on the Opry would follow in just a few years. At the age of 15, he landed his first professional job as a musician playing for Opry regulars Jamup & Honey. "I played what they call a `walk on-walk off' for them on the Grand Ole Opry, and I made $3. Boy, I thought I was hot stuff then."

    The Opry would continue to be Moore's Saturday-night home as he landed regular jobs with Paul Howard and His Arkansas Cotton Pickers and then Little Jimmy Dickens. Moore also learned the sideman's secret to increasing his income on the Opry: "There wasn't a house band on the Opry, but there were always enough people hanging around to play. I would hang out at the Opry after my spot with Dickens. Somebody would use me on their spot, and then ask me back for their next one. We'd go back in the dressing room and run over the song a couple of times, and then hit the stage. You'd start with one and pick up another and before you knew it you had eight or 10 spots every Saturday night."

    Some artists would use their regular road bands on the Opry, while others would only use only one or two members, depending on the pool of regular sidemen to fill out the ranks. This freewheeling atmosphere continued until the late '60s. Former Opry president and general manager Hal Durham recalls when the practice changed: "A `spot' [or half-hour segment] was a show. If you played one song in a show, you got paid the same amount as if you worked every song in the show. The musicians would work it out where different ones would play different songs, so instead of having 10 or 12 musicians on a show, you'd have 20.

    "Bud Wendell decided he had to get a handle on that when he became Opry manager in 1968, and he narrowed the number down. Bud designated certain people who could play for artists who didn't bring their own band. If an artist had a road band, they could bring their band on with them, but [the musicians] wouldn't be allowed to play on other spots.

    "It eventually evolved into a staff-band situation, but it wasn't called that for years. Nobody was in charge of the group. They were kind of a co-op, and they developed their own arrangements." Over the years, regular members of the "house band" included such greats as Harold Weakley, Jimmy Capps, Spider Wilson, Leon Rhodes, Buddy Harman, and many others.

    These and the hundreds of other sidemen who have appeared on the Opry over the years have supplied the foundation that every Opry performance was built upon. It's easy to forget the people behind the stars, but for every lead performer that has "played the Opry," there are many more who can lay the same claim--even if their names weren't listed in the program.

    Bob Moore's regular appearances on the Opry dwindled after he joined Red Foley's band in 1952 and moved to Springfield, Mo. When Moore returned to Nashville, most of his time became occupied by session work. But the stamp the Grand Ole Opry left on him is still felt almost 50 years later. "It was my home," Moore says. "I can still close my eyes and walk from the dressing room to the stage. And I can still smell that hardwood floor of the Ryman."

    Visit Bob Moore's Web site at

    Rockabilly Hall of FameŽ