Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Ralph Mooney, genius of the steel guitar

The great Ralph Mooney has died. Unless you're a country music fan, you probably don't know him, but you should. He played a major role in developing the Bakersfield and outlaw styles of country music. He started out in the mid '50s playing in Wynn Stewart's band in Bakersfield. His playing was key to Buck Owens' early hits, and many of the best records made by Merle Haggard and Waylon Jennings. He was the master of incredibly brief, yet completely perfect, intense and unforgettable introductions and solos, and had a rare gift as an accompanist. He was one of those artists who brought traditional and new ideas together in a way that stretched and transformed the genres in which he worked. If you don't think the term "genius" is merited, you're wrong. (Watch video here.  Solo starts at 0:55.)  Here's some more proof:

Obituary: Ralph Mooney dies at 82; influential steel guitarist played with Buck Owens, Waylon Jennings and Merle Haggard - latimes.com

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