In Loving Memory


Born: January 17, 1929, Chapel Hill, TN
Died: December 3, 2001, Lewisburg, TN


E-mail Your Thoughts and Comments regarding Grady



Happy Birthday Dad!
Another year has passed and I still miss you!
Angie




We heard a song on Music Choice, on Cable TV and would like to have a copy, can you help me. The name is: "The Album is Instrumentally Yours." The song is "El Paso" (instrumental) by Grady Martin. We really enjoyed that song, and remember Marty Robbins singing it years ago. But would like the instrumental version. Would appreciate any help you could give me. Thank you.
Jim Payne
gpayne1937@yahoo.com




I loved listening to grady martin playing on el-paso, he brought the song really a live with his wonderful playing, as he did on many of his great recordings. May he rest in peace. From an irish long long time fan.
jack kane arklow
wicklow ireland




I listened to Grady Martin's Slewfoot Five back in the 50's and haven't been able to find any recordings. Are there any available and if so where can I purchase them? Thanks for you help.
Gary Lindroos
garyandnaomi@cox.net




Greetings! Can someone help me out with this question about Grady Martin's Slewfoot Five? I've searched for the answer for years but without success. What's the song by them that has this main vocal line that seems to go "love is just a mockingbird"? I heard this only once, back in 1963, when I was 12, on the radio, and I've been carrying around the memory of this song for the last 43 years. At the time I could not believe the sound of Mr. Martin's guitar... the very first fuzz tone I'd ever heard. Any help you could give would be really appreciated, as all the web searches I've done have yielded absolutely no answers. Few of the sites list the tracks on the early albums. Thanks! Sincerely,
Tim Bradstock
Missoula, Montana
timothy.bradstock@mso.umt.edu




Posted July 28, 2005
My name is Rick Hulett and I was born and raised in Lubbock, TX. When I was 10 years old or thereabouts, my parents bought me the 45 of El Paso. I became completely obsessed with the song. The singing and story were great and I loved them, but it was that guitar that really did it for me. My parents had one of those big old console stereos. My Mom and Dad both worked and in the morning I would be alone for about half an hour before my ride showed up to get me and take me to school. I was supposed to be watching for them so they didn’t have to get out of the car, but as soon as my parents would leave I’d turn the stereo up as loud as it would go, put on “El Paso” and press my head up as close to the speaker as I could get it. I really wanted to get inside of that song and stay. Everyday until I finally wore the 45 out, the folks giving me a ride would have to come and bang on the door to try and extract me from “El Paso” and get me to school. So, because of Grady Martin and El Paso I became a guitar player. 53 years later, my wife says that no matter what style of music I’m playing, my guitar playing sounds Mexican. I just smile because I know that what it really is is Grady Martin. I just hope there’s a heaven where I can someday sit down and play El Paso with Grady Martin.
Rick
rickhulett@earthlink.net




Posted January 28, 2005
I always thought that Jack Pruett played the fancy guitar work on Marty Robbins El Paso. I'm glad to now have it straight. What an amazing talent Mr. Martin was. I've never heard those kids of guitar leads duplicated.
POH - POH12@aol.com




Posted January 28, 2005
I asked Mark Casstevens about the guitar player in "El Paso. He said Grady did the lead and did it in one take. Also, he played it with a borrowed guitar! Amazing. Absolutely amazing in my book. I am guessing that isn't often done these days. I suggest a Nashville museum for session players because these guys are the best and it is their special talent and technique that created the unique Nashville sound. What is wrong with Nashville anyway? Hmmm?
John
Hittfam@aol.com




Posted January 16, 2005
Happy Birthday Dad!
I miss you!
Angie




Posted October 21, 2004
I was sad to learn of Grady's passing. Am jogging my memory here back to 1958, Winslow High School, Winslow, Maine. There was a concert in the school auditorium during the day time. I remember his being introduced as Grady Martin; yet at that time I didn't know who he was. It seemed to me that he was on a tour of high schools to show that rock n roll wasn't as bad as the media was saying; I could be wrong. I was only 13. I recall during the question and asnwer:The girls were asking Grady if he knew Elvis. We all chucked at this.
Larry
doowop@midmaine.com




Posted January 4, 2004
I had the pleasure of seeing Mr. Martin in person when he played with Willie in New Orleans in around the early nineties. However, I believe the solo he laid down on John Prine's "A Good Time" is the most beautiful and perfect guitar solo I have ever heard. It was done in the early seventies on Prine's "Sweet Revenge" album. I'm still trying to learn to play it as Grady did (I've got a good ways to go as of yet). I just did a search on Mr. Martin and was deeply saddened by learning of his passing. I am so proud that he has worked with my top three favorites (Willie Nelson, Kris Kristofferson, and John Prine). My belated condolenses go to Mr. Martin's family and all of his many friends as well as the music community that held this great musician in such high regard. Mitch Heurtin - memphisto@cox.net




Posted September, 2003
He was great. Seen him many times with Willie Nelson. He was one of the greatest.
Gary Cain - vcain@triad.rr.com




Posted June 4, 2003
While looking over the tribute page one can only imagine what we as a music community has lost with the passing of Grady Martin. While he added the lead lines to a lot of countrys best he also added to a few in the bluegrass world as well. Some of the later Flatt and Scruggs recordings reflect this. Although some say they had drifted away from their roots thats not all that important in listening to some of the lead lines Grady produced. "Ten Miles From Natchez" recorded Oct 8 1965 to me reflects his tasteful lead work best being somewhat like what you would have expected to hear on a Marty Robbins session. To sum it all up "The World has lost another super picker and one that would be virtually impossible to replace".
Wayne Thomas
Marion,VA




Posted May 5, 2003
I was just looking over this Grady Martin tribute page, and saw no mention of one of my favorite albums. In 1960, Grady took a crew of Billy Byrd and Freddy Haynes to Hollywood to supervise an album called "RFD-Tab Hunter" for WB records. Hunter had scored a million selling single in 1957 with "Young Love", and wanted to do this country album. RFD failed to chart, as did the 45 that was issued - "Black Coat" written by Marty Robbins, but thanks to Grady Martin, the session turned out a very nice country-pop crossover - a few years before other Hollywood pop stars made it cool.
Frank Wright




Posted February 28, 2002
My name is Tammy Jamison. I work at Shoney's in Lewisburg, TN and wait on Mr.Martin's son, Grady Jr., all the time. I want to give the family of Mr. Martin my deepest sympathy. I have listened to the stories of this great man so I too had to feel pain that I will never forget. I never met Mr. Martin personally, but from what I hear from his son, he was the greatest men I could have ever met. And I believe that 100%. To the family of Mr.Grady Martin, please keep your head up and remember that as long as we have our memories we have a treasure all of our own ... Sincerely - Tammy Jamison




Posted December 24, 2001
I grew up listening to Country Music in the 60's.  Our family attended the Grand Ole Opry once or twice a year.  My dad played guitar and taught me as well.  He once bought a Martin D-35 from Roy Acuff's, Dobro Player, Brother Oswald.  I remember that the nice, refined looking man that my dad was dealing with, didn't look much like the Oswald I had watched on stage, with the big floppy shoes.  That was in 1967.  Today that guitar sits in a closet in my house.
  Growing up in this atmosphere, I was exposed to a lot of country music, and my taste expanded over the years to enjoy many different forms of music.  I eventually chose a career unrelated to the music industry, and my education of music ended in a sense. I have always felt like I have an ear for the appreciation of musical talent.  El Paso rates as one of my all time favorite songs.  I was always mesmerized by the Spanish Guitar work.   I have often wandered who that great artist was.  I knew it had to be a session musician, but unfortunately I didn't know who. Today I was listening to El Paso on the Internet, and took the opportunity to explore the history of this magnificent song.  I am saddened by his passing, but his music still remains.  I am amazed by all the work he did, on so many other songs.  Many of them are my favorites as well.  I always knew that whomever played that guitar on El Paso was one gifted musician.  I compared him to Eric Clapton. He should have gotten much, much, more recognition.  I would like to see his story one day on video. Sincerely,
Jerry Hedges
Louisville, Kentucky




Posted December 13, 2001
When I was 16 and first heard Grady's solo on Johnny Horton's "Honkytonk Man" it literally changed my life. I have since taken up the guitar, sought out every Grady Martin recording I could find, mimicked his playing, started a rockabilly band, recorded and toured, and prcticed and practiced trying to reach the bar Grady set so high. I find Grady's passing upsetting knowing my number one guitar hero is gone. I love you Grady!
- "Pennsylvania" Dave Sisson -
Three Blue Teardrops/Gin Palace Jesters




Posted December 10, 2001
I met Grady when I used to hang out at the studios in Nashville in the 60's. I was forunate enough to becomes friends with alot of the musicians at that time. Playing Ping-Pong at Columbia Studio or just laying back and digging a session the fellows were doing. I wrote for Floyd Cramer and Grady's Publishing Co. Cramart Music for a couple years. For about a year are so I worked for him driving him to sessions setting up his Amp and Guitar. It was quite an experience for this 23-24 year old at that time. Grady was the best. Because of his size and straight look he'd have on his face most of the time a stranger might be leary of him when they first saw him but let me tell you, he had a big, big heart. He was an incredible guitarist and a super ping-pong player, very, very quick for his size. We'd talk now and then by phone and he was always so nice. I'll miss miss him as I know alot of others will. My deepest respect and heartfelt sympathy go out to his family.
Billy Swan




Posted December 10, 2001
I learned the bad news. Grady Martin was for me the equal one of Chet Atkins. We had devoted to him a great article in the our revue Rock and Roll Revue" which we publish in France.
R.I.P.
Bernard "Big Joe" - ZITOUNE founder of Rock'n'roll Revue




Posted December 10, 2001
We mourn the loss of the world¹s GREATEST guitarist and close friend, Grady Martin. Grady, we'll miss you.
Tommy and Margaret, musicats@pdq.net




Posted December 10, 2001
On November 2, 1959: My (late) father, Eddie Sulik, was sent to Nashville by A&R man, Don Law, to cut four sides for Columbia Records, as the lead singer and songwriter of a RAB/Pop duo named 'the Echoes'. When my dad arrived at Bradley Studio, Law introduced him to the musicians that were to back his session. My Dad later admitted to my mother that he was a little bit star-struck when he learned that both, Grady Martin and Hank Garland would play on the set, (along with Buddy Harman and the Anita Kerr Singers). My father was well aware of who Grady Martin was, but did not realize how many sessions this genius actually played on.
       In front of Grady, whom co-produced the set, Law requested from one of the engineers, that he play back a master from a session that they had recently recorded. It was Marty Robbins' 'Elpaso'. Law asked my father to listen closely to the guitar playing; then, asked who he thought was doing the picking. My father shrugged his shoulders and asked if it were Marty Robbins. Both Don Law and Grady chuckled for a moment, as Law responded, "No, that there is Grady playing that nylon string guitar. These guys are the 'Hit makers', and we're all here today to make a Hit record." Magic was definitely made in Bradley Studio on that day, thanks to the help of Grady Martin and the rest of 'Nashville's A-Team'.
       As far as the records went; well, regionally, they did okay, but amidst the Payola probe that was going on at the time, they didn't get the air-play that they probably deserved; the label then dropped promotion, the Echoes split, and my father returned to a solo career until his death in an auto accident, five years later. I'm writing this on the evening of December, 9th. I just read about Grady's death from this web page. Ironically, today is the 36th anniversary of my father's death. They would have been about the same age. I wonder if they're doing an encore performance of "Loving and Losing", one of the songs that they did together, in which Grady's guitar sound like it was actually crying. Grady, this one's for you... (My tribute to Grady Martin: First verse to "Loving and Losing")... You told me goodbye yesterday, and then we parted. They tell me that I shouldn't stay so broken hearted; but I can't seem to drive you from my mind, so I'll just go on my lonely way, Loving and Losing all the time. To hear the complete song, 'click' on the following link, (and tell me, you can't hear Grady's guitar crying tears through that vintage Echoplex)... http://artists.mp3s.com/artist_song/1225/1225197.html
       Thanks Grady for all of the great music and for touching my life, and the lives of so many. Like the song says; "If there's a rock-n-roll heaven, they must have one hell of a band."
Eddie Sulik Jr.




Posted December 10, 2001
All these greats leaving us. Right now I'm playing El Paso, and listening to great Grady Martin, as well as Marty Robbins. Yes, another who should be in The Country Music Hall Of Fame, but isn't .. when will the CMA wake up? Do they have to die before they are honoured for the pleasure they gave so many people? Rest In Peace Grady, and thank you! Must be guitar night in Heaven for the next few weeks ...
Joan




Posted December 10, 2001
What can you say about the hero of the guy that's your hero?! Mr. Martin gave me so many of my memories in music. From El Paso, to Pretty Woman, I am always amazed at his craft. I wish that this would open the eyes of those blinded few, that has the honor of presenting awards to our musical heroes. My heart-felt prayers go out to his friends and family, and what a jam session they are having in Heaven today.
Col. Robert Morris




Posted December 5, 2001
See Shaun Mathers' comments on Grady




Posted December 5, 2001
This has been the worst year for all guitarists who've "learned at the knees" so to speak, of the most influential players in this century. We lost Roy Nichols and Chet Atkins earlier this year, and then George Harrison just a few days ago, and now Grady Martin. All of these guys brought something different, style-wise, to the table, and I know I'm not the only player that ripped every lick I could off'em. It makes you wonder who the next generation of players, that will be emulated and imitated, to the degree that these guys were, will be.
Eric Todd
Burnsguitman@cs.com




Posted December 5, 2001
Just when the CMA wakes up and inducts the Everlys, Sam Phillips, Ken Nelson etc. we have the sad passing of another all time great who should`ve been honoured during his lifetime. There again the CMA probably thinks the A-Team is Mr T and George Peppard! Look how they treated Webb Pierce.
I, like many many others,shall be spinning El Paso, Don`t Worry etc. by Marty and Grady, then over the next few sessions Honky Tonk Man, Don Gibson, Elvis, Buddy, Johnny and Dorsey, Patsy, Big O, JLL and the Slewfoot 5 etc., etc., Every track a reminder of why Nashville`s biggest museum should`ve honoured him correctly, when will they ever learn? A loss equal to that of Chet Atkins.
Rest easy Mr Martin, it`s Pickin` Time
Phil Davies




Posted December 5, 2001
I met him in 1983 at Tokyo, Japan. I visited his hotel room, while he toured with Willie Nelson. I spend with Grady for two or three hours. He asked me "Are Wes Montgomery, Jim Hall and Burney Kessel popular in Japan?" He is the best guitarist ever lived. Very sad.
Nobuhiko Ogino Kobe, Japan




Posted December 5, 2001
Grady played guitar on both my recording sessions at Owen Bradley Studio in Nashville. Lead guitar in 1957 on my first session, TEEN QUEEN, COMIN OR GOIN, PUCKER PAINT, and BOOM BOOM BABY. Rhythm lead guitar with Hank Garland in 1958 on THREE MONTHS TO KILL, LITTLE BOY BLUE, and JULIET. His ability to learn songs that he had never heard still amazes me. We literally had minutes to get a song ready. He was totally dedicated to the task at hand. Though he played on many many sessions he took his work very serious and I remember him as a quiet dedicated musician. One of the best I have ever heard. My sympathy to his family,
Huelyn Duvall




Posted December 5, 2001
Always wanted to meet this great guitarist, but like so many it was not meant to be. In australia he was always held in high regards It is a pity we did not see him perform here Just recentlry Kittra Moore and I exchanged emails in regards grady and her husband Bob. A sad day, two great guitarists passed on in the one year. Regards, Bob Hayen
Australia




Posted December 5, 2001
Billy Byrd and Grady Martin, twin guitars on Ernest Tubb 50's records. It just don't get any better than that! Billy told me one time, "I didn't teach Grady all he knows about guitar, but I taught him ALL I know." What a jam session they're having with the rest of the Angels tonight! What a sad face Don Helms and I will have when I see him this Sunday. Grady and Don were on both Kate TV shows in 1952 with Hank Williams. Grady played fiddle on the March 26, show because Jerry Rivers wasn't there and then he played guitar on the April 23, show when Rivers made it. Grady will be remembered as long as guitars are played.
Tim Ausburn




Posted December 4, 2001
What a sad day. Anytime I work up a solo I think "what would Grady Martin play on this?" You cannot underestimate the man's influence. I think I'll go listen to "Pork Chop Stomp" now.
Bobby Horton




Posted December 4, 2001
He stood with Chet Atkins and Hank Garland as one of the greatest and most original guitarists in country and rockabilly. He was first call with both Owen Bradley (Decca) and Don Law (Columbia). And I think he popularized both the classic guitar (on Marty Robbins' EL Paso) and the 6 string bass guitar (on Johnny Horton's I'm Comin' Home) in country music.
Terence McArdle




Posted December 4, 2001
I never had the chance to meet Grady, but through Bob & Kittra Moore I learned so much about him. A true genius that infuenced everyone in rockabilly, rock and roll, and traditional country. God bless his soul. Heaven just admitted another super-star.
Bob Timmers




Posted December 4, 2001
Sad news indeed. It's too bad that Grady's contribution is so over looked. He was an amazing player who's genius helped define a genre.
Steve (star_tone@yahoo.com)




Posted December 4, 2001
Some very bad news this morning ... Grady Martin is dead. More details surely to follow but this is from a reliable source. It's hard to even start talking about his influence ... he played some of the greatest lead guitar on so many of our favorite country, rockabilly, and rock & roll records ... it's not even funny. Me, I'll be blasting out "Alligator Come Across" by Arlie Duff today and when that insane Grady solo comes ripping out, I will lament the fact I never got to meet him.
Deke Dickerson




Posted December 3, 2001
It is a sad day in Country Music History. Grady Martin's body of musical work is so huge that I can hardly address it at this time. Let me just say that his aggressive and confident guitar style on Johnny Horton's records, on Johnny Burnette's records, his twin fiddle work with Tommy Jackson, his twin guitar work with Hank Garland. His beautifully hypnotic "El Paso" No one can touch this. Regarding his creative input and brilliant capacity for on-the-spot arrangements, there were producers who wouldn't do a session without Grady Martin. They wouldn't because they couldn't! Can't talk about this any further right now without cussing so I will leave it alone...
He will be greatly missed. We loved him very much.
Kittra Moore





Standing a slim six foot, one, Grady Martin, the cool blue-eyed expert of the electric Spainish guitar, is today one of the top folk artists on Decca Records at the age of 23. While attending school back home in Tennessee, Grady heard a friend playing a guitar and decided, "That's for me." He is now heard on WSM and recently recorded "Just a Litlte Lovin'" with Bing Crosby. Grady is married and has one son, Stephen, 2 years old. Grady is proud that he was born on a farm and boasts that he had to walk a mile and a half to school every day. His favorite pastimes now are golf and fishing...that is when he can find the time.


Grady Picked With . . .

Looking at a list of the musicians he's played with makes you wonder what the heck we would have done without him. I'm just glad as heck we didn't have to. He will surely be missed, may he never be forgotten! - BP Murphy - Johnny Horton - Johnny Burnette - Tommy Jackson - Hank Garland - Don Woody - Arlie Duff - Brenda Lee - Eddy Arnold - Johnny Cash - Jack Clemment - Johnny Carrol - Patsy Cline - Jim Reeves - Rosemary Clooney - Collins Kids - Country Joe McDonald - Billy "Crash" Craddock - Jimmy Dean - Little Jimmy Dickens - Huelyn Duvall - Melvin Endsley - Flatt & Scruggs - Red Foley - Lefty Frizzell - Don Gibson - Arlo Guthrie - Woody Guthrie - Joan Baez - JJ Cale - Merle Haggard - Hawkshaw Hawkins - Ronnie Hawkins - Ersel Hickey - Buddy Holly - Homer & Jethro - Wanda Jackson - Jim and Jesse - Jonny & Jack - Kris Kristofferson - Sleepy LaBeef - Jerry Lee Lewis - Gordon Lightfoot - Hank Locklin - Jimmie Logsdon - John D. Loudermilk - Loretta Lynn - Henry Mancini - Janis Martin - Skeets McDonald - Ronnie Milsap - Bill Monroe - George Morgan - Moon Mullican - Willie Nelson - Roy Orbison - Dolly Parton - Carl Perkins - Elvis Presley - Ray Price - Marvin Rainwater - Marty Robbins - Ronnie Self - Jean Shepard - Carl Smith - Hank Snow - Ernest Tubb - Justin Tubb - Conway Twitty - Porter Wagoner - Doc Watson - Kitty Wells - Onie Wheeler - Sheb Wooley - Faron Young - Bob Moore - Pete Drake - the list goes on!

Instruments Played . . .

Guitar - Fiddle - Dobro - Mandolin - Sitar - Bass - Clarinet - Vocals - Flute - Percussion - Keyboards - Organ - Vibraphone - Is there anything he couldn't play?



RELATED

  • From the Nashville Scene: Grady Martin, 1929-2001
  • GRADY MARTIN BIOGRAPHY by his son Josh Martin
  • Stevie's Tribute to Grady
  • GRADY MARTIN and Bob Moore Fan Club Page
  • GRADY'S Country Politan Bio
  • GRADY'S Hall of Twang profile
  • GRADY'S Guitar/mandolin custom built by Paul Bigsby
  • El Paso, the Song
  • GRADY MARTIN related CDs at Barnes & Noble



    Obituary . . .

    Grady Martin, Guitarist Who Did It all, Dies at 72
    Courtesy: PETER COOPER, Staff Writer, Tennessean, December 4, 2001 - NASHVILLE

    Grady Martin, the guitar wizard who helped fashion the sounds of such stars as Willie Nelson, Joan Baez, Roy Orbison, Patsy Cline and Johnny Cash, died Monday (December 3rd). One of the most renowned, inventive and historically significant session musicians in country music history suffered an apparent heart attack at his Lewisburg, Tenn., home. He was 72.

    Mr. Martin, like his cohorts in Nashville's famed A-Team of studio musicians, remains unclaimed by the Country Music Hall of Fame. But many of country's most legendary artists point to Mr. Martin's contributions as invaluable and unprecedented. "Grady realized, though he never bragged about it, that he was special," said Merle Haggard, who grew up idolizing Mr. Martin and came to use his guitar work on songs including What Am I Gonna Do (With The Rest Of My Life), A Place To Fall Apart and No Reason To Quit. "He understood some things about music that nobody else understood. And when he'd put that down on your record, it was like a gift."

    "He was my friend, he was one of the greatest guitar players ever, and I will miss him," Nelson said on learning of Mr. Martin's death. In surveying Mr. Martin's career, his peers remain incredulous that one man could envision ‹ let alone execute ‹ the stylistically disparate guitar parts for which he is known.

    "He didn't use one recognizable sound," said Bob Moore, a lifelong friend of Mr. Martin's who played bass with him on thousands of recording sessions. "What he did was so varied, but the things he came up with were always outstanding, no matter the style. I think he's the single greatest guitar player we've had here in Nashville."

    Mr. Martin's delicate, nylon-string guitar graces Marty Robbins' El Paso, and his thrusting, fuzz-toned guitar solo churns through Robbins' Don't Worry (the latter probably was the first of its kind, influencing generations of distortion-happy guitarists). His fiery rockabilly solos helped bring Johnny Horton songs, including Honky Tonk Man and Cherokee Boogie, into popular favor. And his melodic leads may be heard on recordings by Nelson, Cline, Orbison, Baez, Jim Reeves, Carl Smith, Elvis Presley, Loretta Lynn, Brenda Lee and numerous others.

    "I'm broken-hearted today," said Lee, who was a child when she and producer Owen Bradley began using Mr. Martin on sessions for songs including I'm Sorry and Break It To Me Gently. "I first met Grady when I was about 9 years old, and he was such a bear of a man and so stoic that he scared me to death. Later on, I learned what a big teddy bear he was.

    "I wouldn't do a session without him. Owen knew not to even call a session if Grady couldn't do it. Grady could switch gears so quickly. He could play something that'd make you weep, and then the next minute play something that'd make you jump for joy." In addition to his guitar prowess, Mr. Martin was proficient on bass and fiddle. He grew up in Lewisburg and began playing recording sessions when he was 15. In 1946, he made his Grand Ole Opry debut, performing with the Bailes Brothers Band. His late 1940s and early 1950s work included backing Little Jimmy Dickens hits such as Country Boy and Hillbilly Fever, recordings that featured innovative twin-guitar lines he constructed with fellow guitar wizard Jabbo Arrington.

    While most of his legacy was built as a sideman, Mr. Martin recorded instrumental singles and LPs for Decca Records and Monument Records, and he participated in several Decca albums as a member of Nashville pop band Slew Foot Five. Throughout the 1960s, Mr. Martin reigned as a Nashville guitar virtuoso with an irascible, no-nonsense attitude. Producers often designated him the "session leader," meaning that he oversaw the musicians and directed the instrumental arrangements for many songs.

    "He had a big reputation to live up to," Haggard said of Mr. Martin's role on Music Row. "He was like Wyatt Earp down there, man. He was everybody's hero." Having worked on sessions with everyone from Red Foley to Kris Kristofferson, Mr. Martin eventually returned to live performance. After a stint with Jerry Reed, he began what would become a 16-year-long string with Willie Nelson, recording Always On My Mind and On the Road Again. Mr. Martin was reportedly the model for the character played by Slim Pickens in the movie Honeysuckle Rose, starring Nelson and loosely based on his career.

    In 1983, Nelson played host to a Grady Martin tribute, and he also performed in Mr. Martin's honor in April 2000 at Ryman Auditorium, when Mr. Martin was given a Chetty award for significant instrumental achievement. The award was given during Chet Atkins' Musician Days, which celebrated musicians of importance.

    Monday evening, Mr. Martin suffered what family members think was a heart attack. He was taken by ambulance to Marshall Medical Center and was pronounced dead on arrival.

    "I think Grady never got his due, maybe because he was a bit of an outlaw," Haggard said. "He drank a little of this, did a little of this and that, and could be cantankerous. But he was one of the greatest guitar players that ever lived. He'd lay out something that you'd wish you'd thought of, and people would copy him later.

    "I remember when Grady played a guitar part on a song of mine called A Place To Fall Apart. He took one whack at it, and (acclaimed guitarist Roy Nichols) was there with me at the soundboard. We knew what he played was great, but I looked at Roy and said, 'Roy, I believe me or you might could have played that?' Roy said, 'Maybe now we could, but not until after that (guy) played it. 'Cause he just showed us how.' " Lawrence Funeral Home and Cremation Services in Chapel Hill is in charge of the funeral. Arrangements for a memorial service have not been completed (as of Dec. 5th). Survivors include 10 children, seven grandchildren and one great-grandchild.




    Memorial . . .

    Nashville Musicians Celebrate Grady Martin at Memorial
    Courtesy: Michael Gray, 12/12/2001

    Friends and fans of Grady Martin celebrated the legendary guitarist's life and music at a small, informal memorial Monday afternoon (Dec. 10) at Nashville's Belcourt Theater, home of the Grand Ole Opry in the mid-1930s. Bassist Bob Moore and his wife, Kittra, organized and hosted the tribute, held one week after Martin's death on Dec. 3 of heart failure at age 72 (see related story). Formal services were conducted Thursday (Dec. 6) in Martin's hometown of Chapel Hill, Tenn.

    Martin played on countless country and rockabilly classics, including Roy Orbison's "Oh, Pretty Woman," Marty Robbins' "El Paso" and Loretta Lynn's "Coal Miner's Daughter."

    Original A-Team Nashville studio musicians, Martin and Moore played on hundreds of sessions together in the '50s, '60s and '70s. "Grady was like my big brother," Moore recalled. "I was 16 when I met him. He had a car and I didn't. He'd come by and pick me up, along with my bass, and carry me wherever we were working. At that point, we became almost brothers. He'd get a flattop, and then I'd have to go get me a flattop. He'd get a pair of black-and-white shoes; I'd go and get some black-and-white shoes. He was my best friend and we stayed close all our lives."

    Fellow A-Team members Harold Bradley, Buddy Harman and Ray Walker and Gordon Stoker of the Jordanaires turned out to pay their respects. Vintage photos of Martin with Bradley, Moore and others were displayed at the theater ticket booth. A pair of wreaths were hung in Martin's honor on each side of the theater stage, where musicians jammed together in loose, mixed-and-matched groupings throughout the afternoon.

    As is often the case in Music City, pickers and singers paid tribute through songs as much as stories and speeches. Grand Ole Opry star Billy Walker performed "Funny How Time Slips Away" and "Charlie's Shoes," which he recorded with Martin in the early '60s. Martin played on nearly every session Walker recorded during the first 15 years of his career. Walker recalled Martin's musical mastery and joked about how terse the guitarist could be in the studio. "When Grady played on 'El Paso' it changed western music," Walker said. "I came along and cut 'Cross the Brazos at Waco.' At the session that day, ol' Grady said, 'How do you want this damn thing played, anyway?' You know he could be belligerent at times. I said, 'Well, Grady, just play it like you feel it.' He said, 'I don't feel the damn thing!' But it turned out to be a smash anyway."

    Country star Gail Davies, who spent time with Martin in the late '70s when they were both on the road with Jerry Reed, performed three songs: Johnnie & Jack's "Poison Love," Webb Pierce's "Back Street Affair" and the Karl Davis-penned country standard, "Kentucky."

    Chris Scruggs - Davies' son - performed Johnny Horton's "I'm a One-Woman Man" backed by Moore and others. Scruggs emulated Martin's guitar licks featured on the 1956 hit recording of the song. The jazzy, Django Reinhardt-inspired Hot Club of Nashville - featuring dazzling guitarists Bryan Sutton and Richard Smith - opened the tribute with "Sweet Georgia Brown." Country-gospel star Martha Carson, who turned 80 in May, delivered Merle Travis' "That's All" and her signature song, "Satisfied." Martin's son, Tal, was called upon to back Carson on guitar. Meeting Tal for the first time on stage, Carson told him how much his father's guitar playing meant to her. "I had never before been brave enough to sing a real slow tempo song until I recorded 'Just Around the Bend,'" she remembered. "I was scared to death to sing it until Grady's guitar introduction set me in the mood to sing it. What beautiful guitar work; he just set the stage so much. I just [felt] every lyric in that song - my bass voice doing the best it could with a slow song. I couldn't have done that song without the Grady Martin touch."





  • A ROCKABILLY HALL OF FAME PRESENTATION