|Birth name||Floyd Cramer|
|Born||October 27, 1933|
Shreveport, Louisiana, U.S.
|Origin||Huttig, Arkansas, U.S.|
|Died||December 31, 1997 (aged 64)|
Floyd Cramer (October 27, 1933 – December 31, 1997) was an American pianist who became famous for his use of melodic "half step" attacks. He was inducted into both the Country Music Hall of Fame and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. His signature playing style was a cornerstone of the pop-oriented "Nashville sound" of the 1950s and 1960s. Cramer's "slip-note" or "bent-note" style, in which a passing note slides almost instantly into or away from a chordal note, influenced a generation of pianists. His sound became popular to the degree that he stepped out of his role as a sideman and began touring as a solo act. In 1960, his piano instrumental solo, "Last Date" went to number two on the Billboard Hot 100 pop music chart and sold over one million copies. Its follow-up, "On the Rebound", topped the UK Singles Chart in 1961. As a studio musician, he became one of a cadre of elite players dubbed the Nashville A-Team and he performed on scores of hit records.
Cramer was born in Shreveport, Louisiana, and grew up in the small town of Huttig, Arkansas. He taught himself to play the piano. After finishing high school, he returned to Shreveport, where he worked as a pianist for the radio show Louisiana Hayride.
After Elvis Presley performed on Louisiana Hayride in 1955, he hired his own band which included Cramer, Jimmy Day, Scotty Moore, Bill Black, and D.J. Fontana. This group remained his supporting band for much of that year; however, when Presley asked them to relocate to Hollywood, Cramer and Day declined to follow him there, preferring to remain in Nashville to pursue independent careers as studio musicians. In Nashville, Cramer found that piano accompaniment in country music was growing in popularity. By the next year he was, in his words, "in day and night doing session". Before long, he was one of the busiest studio musicians in the industry, playing piano for stars such as Elvis Presley, Brenda Lee, Patsy Cline, the Browns, Jim Reeves, Eddy Arnold, Roy Orbison, Don Gibson, and the Everly Brothers, among others. It was Cramer's piano playing, for instance, on Presley's first RCA Victor single, "Heartbreak Hotel". While Cramer was well-established as a session player, he had a long career as a solo performer with dozens of his own albums and singles, including some Top 40 instrumental hits.
Cramer had released records under his own name since the early 1950s and became well known following the release of "Last Date", a 45-rpm single, released by RCA Victor in 1960. The instrumental piece exhibited a relatively new concept in piano playing known as the "slip note" style. The record went to number two on the Billboard Hot 100 pop music chart, sold over one million copies, and was awarded a gold disc. The song was kept out of the number 1 position by Elvis Presley's "Are You Lonesome Tonight". The session pianist for Elvis's recording of that #1 song, in a very early morning session (about 4:00 AM) at RCA Studio B in Nashville, was none other than Floyd Cramer himself.
Trying to launch myself on a solo career, after being Elvis Presley's pianist for so long, placed me in an unenviable position. Some people thought I was trying to cash in. If I had wanted to cash in on my association with Elvis, I would have done it five years ago.
In 1961, Cramer had a hit with "On the Rebound", which went to number 4, and number 1 on the UK Singles Chart. ("On the Rebound" was featured during the opening credits of the 2009 Oscar-nominated film An Education, which was set in England in 1961.) Also in 1961, Cramer had a hit with "San Antonio Rose" (number 8).
By the mid-1960s, Cramer had become a respected performer, making numerous albums and touring with guitar maestro Chet Atkins and saxophonist Boots Randolph, sometimes headlining and sometimes as the opening act for Eddy Arnold. Cramer also performed with them as a member of the Million Dollar Band.
Cramer died of lung cancer on New Year's Eve, 1997, at the age of 64. He was interred in the Spring Hill Cemetery in the Nashville suburb of Madison, Tennessee.
Cramer’s grandson, Jason Coleman, followed in his footsteps taking up the piano, performing with him on television and in concert at a young age. At age 17, he played "Please Help Me, I'm Falling", the first song to feature Cramer's signature slip notes, with Hank Locklin at the Grand Ole Opry, and two years later played piano for the Medallion Ceremony at Cramer's induction into the Country Music Hall of Fame. He carries on his grandfather's legacy with recordings and a touring tribute concert, The Piano Magic of Floyd Cramer, sharing the piano arrangements and story of Cramer's contributions to American music.
In 2003, Cramer was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. In 2004, his recording of "Last Date" was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame, established to honor recordings of lasting qualitative or historical significance. In 2008, Cramer was inducted into the Louisiana Music Hall of Fame.
East Tennessee State University, in Johnson City, Tennessee, offers the Floyd Cramer Competitive Scholarship.
|1957||That Honky Tonk Piano||—||—||MGM Records|
|1960||Hello Blues||—||—||RCA Victor|
|On the Rebound||—||70|
|1962||America's Biggest Selling Pianist||—||—|
|Floyd Cramer Gets Organ-ized||—||113|
|I Remember Hank Williams||—||130|
|1963||Swing Along with Floyd Cramer||—||—|
|Three Great Pianos (with Peter Nero and Frankie Carle)||—||—|
|1964||Country Piano-City Strings||—||—|
|Cramer at the Console||—||—|
|The Best of Floyd Cramer||—||—|
|1965||Hits from the Country Hall of Fame||10||—|
|Class of '65||—||107|
|The Magic Touch of Floyd Cramer||—||—|
|1966||The Distinctive Piano Style of Floyd Cramer||—||—|
|Only the Big Ones||—||—|
|Class of '66||—||123|
|Here's What's Happening!||20||166|
|Floyd Cramer Plays the Monkees||—||—|
|Class of '67||21||—|
|We Wish You a Merry Christmas||—||26|
|1968||Floyd Cramer Plays Country Classics||16||—|
|Class of '68||—||—|
|Floyd Cramer Plays MacArthur Park||36||—|
|The Best of Floyd Cramer Volume 2||—||—|
|1969||Class of '69||31||—|
|Floyd Cramer Plays More Country Classics||17||—|
|1970||The Big Ones, Vol. 2||—||183|
|With the Music City Pops||—||—|
|This Is Floyd Cramer||39||—|
|Class of '70||43||—|
|Chet, Floyd & Boots (with Chet Atkins and Boots Randolph)||—||—|
|Sounds of Sunday||44||—|
|Class of '71||34||—|
|Class of '72||—||—|
|Best of the Class of Floyd Cramer||—||—|
|Date with Floyd Cramer||—||—|
|1973||Floyd Cramer Plays the Big Hits||—||—|
|Super Country Hits||—||—|
|Class of '73||34||—|
|1974||Young and Restless||—||—|
|Floyd Cramer in Concert||25||—|
|1975||Piano Masterpieces 1900–1975||—||—|
|Class of '74 and '75||—||—|
|1976||Floyd Cramer Country||46||—|
|1977||Floyd Cramer & the Keyboard Kick Band||50||—|
|Chet, Floyd & Danny (with Chet Atkins and Danny Davis)||46||—|
|1978||Looking for Mr. Goodbar||—||—|
|1981||Great Country Hits||—||—|
|The Best of the West||—||—|
|1982||20 of the Best||—||—|
|Country Classics||—||—||Pair Records|
|1988||Special Songs of Love||—||—||Step One Records|
|Just Me and My Piano||—||—|
|1989||Forever Floyd Cramer||—||—|
|We Wish You a Merry Christmas||—||—|
|1994||The Piano Magic of Floyd Cramer||—||—||Ranwood|
|1995||Favorite Country Hits 1||—||—|
|1996||The Piano Magic of Floyd Cramer 2||—||—|
|Favorite Country Hits 2||—||—|
|US Country||US R&B||US AC||UK|
|1958||"Flip Flop and Bop"||87||—||—||—||—||Last Date|
|1961||"On the Rebound"||4||—||16||—||1||On the Rebound|
|"San Antonio Rose"||8||8||—||3||36|
|"Your Last Goodbye"||63||—||—||—||—||America's Biggest Selling Pianist|
|1962||"Chattanooga Choo Choo"||36||—||—||9||—||(single only)|
|"Let's Go"||90||—||—||—||—||Floyd Cramer Gets Organ-ized|
|"Lovesick Blues"||87||—||—||20||—||I Remember Hank Williams|
|"Hot Pepper"||63||—||—||—||46||(singles only)|
|1963||"Java"||49||—||—||12||—||Swing Along with Floyd Cramer|
|"(These Are) The Young Years"||129||—||—||—||—||Comin' On|
|"How High the Moon"||121||—||—||—||—||(single only)|
|"Heartless Heart"||124||—||—||—||—||Country Piano-City Strings|
|1967||"Stood Up"||—||53||—||24||—||(single only)|
|1968||"By the Time I Get to Phoenix"||—||—||—||32||—|
|1970||"Theme from 222"||—||—||—||39||—|
|1977||"Rhythm of the Rain"||—||67||—||—||—||Floyd Cramer & the Keyboard Kick Band|