LifeNotes: Steel Guitar Great Weldon Myrick Dies

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• June 4, 2014

weldon myrickLegendary steel guitarist Weldon Myrick has died at age 76.

A fixture in the Grand Ole Opry house band for 32 years, Myrick was also a prolific session musician on Music Row. He suffered a stroke last Friday and passed away on Monday (June 2) at Saint Thomas Hospital.

Myrick was a key figure in the sound of Country Music Hall of Fame member Connie Smith. His steel licks “answered” her vocal phrases throughout her 1964 breakthrough hit “Once a Day,” and he subsequently performed on many of her other classic recordings.

A native of Jayton, Texas, Myrick began playing his older brother’s steel guitar at age 8. He moved to Nashville in 1963 and joined The Po’ Boys, the band of Country Music Hall of Famer Bill Anderson. Myrick played on such Anderson hits as “Bright Lights and Country Music,” “I Love You Drops” and “Eight By Ten.”

Other landmark records featuring Weldon Myrick’s steel sound include Jeannie C. Riley’s “Harper Valley P.T.A.,” Donna Fargo’s “Happiest Girl in the Whole U.S.A.,” Roy Clark’s “Thank God and Greyhound You’re Gone,” Jerry Jeff Walker’s “Mr. Bojangles,” George Burns’ “I Wish I Was 18 Again,” Linda Ronstadt’s “Long, Long Time,” Jerry Lee Lewis’s “Middle Age Crazy,” Alan Jackson’s “Chattahoochie,” Cal Smith’s “Country Bumpkin,” Jessi Colter’s “I’m Not Lisa,” Lacy J. Dalton’s “16th Avenue,” Merle Haggard’s “The Way I Am,” Sammi Smith’s “Help Me Make it Through the Night,” Reba McEntire’s “Whoever’s in New England” and George Strait’s “Right Or Wrong.”

The list of artists he has backed is voluminous. A small sampling includes Roy Acuff, Bobby Bare, Loretta Lynn, Willie Nelson, The Pointer Sisters, Elvis Presley, Charley Pride, Ray Charles, Dolly Parton, The Oak Ridge Boys, Wayne Newton, Jimmy Dickens, Marty Robbins, Charlie Rich, Jerry Reed, The Everly Brothers, Dan Fogelberg, Lefty Frizzell, Leon Russell, Hank Snow, Tom T. Hall, The Statler Brothers, Waylon Jennings, Tanya Tucker, Mel Tillis, Cat Stevens, George Jones, Kris Kristofferson, Brenda Lee, Tammy Wynette, Hank Williams Jr., Kitty Wells, Porter Wagoner, Ronnie Milsap, Joan Baez, Roy Orbison and Dwight Yoakam.

Myrick was also a recording artist, as both a singer and an instrumentalist. His discs have appeared on such labels as Capitol, Dot, Mega, Decca, RCA, First Generation and Hilltop. He was a member of the Grammy-nominated country-rock band Area Code 615. His playing can also be heard on more than a dozen movie soundtracks. As a songwriter, he has been recorded by Buddy Holly, The Wilburn Brothers, Jean Shepard and Penny DeHaven, among others.

Myrick won Super Picker instrumentalist awards from NARAS annually in 1974-79. He was ROPE’s Musician of the Year in 1996 and was inducted into the Steel Guitar Hall of Fame in 1997. He retired from the Opry in 1998.

In recent years, Myrick has done concerts and steel-guitar seminars in Japan and Sweden. He performed at various senior-citizen venues around Nashville and backed Opry stars on WSM radio’s The Midnight Jamboree and at benefits.

Funeral arrangements have not been announced.

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Robert K. Oermann is a longtime contributor to MusicRow. He is a respected music critic, author and historian.

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