Lloyd Green
Lloyd Green in 2021
Background information
Birth nameLloyd Lamar Green
Born (1937-10-04) October 4, 1937 (age 84)
Leaf, Mississippi, U.S.
GenresCountry
Occupation(s)Musician
InstrumentsSteel Guitar
Years active1947–present

Lloyd Lamar Green (born October 4, 1937) is an American steel guitarist noted for his extensive country music recording session career in Nashville performing on 116 No.1 country hits including Tammy Wynette’s “D-I-V-O-R-C-E” (1968), Charlie Rich’s “Behind Closed Doors” (1973), The Oak Ridge Boys’ “Elvira” (1981), and Alan Jackson’s “Remember When” (2004). Green was a one of an inner circle of elite recording studio musicians known colloquially as the Nashville A-Team. In a career beginning in the mid 1960s and spanning a quarter-century, Green performed on more than 5000 recordings helping to create hits for scores of artists such as Charley Pride, The Byrds, Johnny Cash, The Monkees, Don Williams, Paul McCartney, Bob Dylan, and many others.[1] His 1968 performance on the Byrds' landmark album Sweetheart of the Rodeo, influenced generations of non-mainstream country guitarists.[2]: 211  He was featured on Ken Burns' Country Music documentary film in 2019. Green was inducted into the Steel Guitar Hall of Fame in 1988.

Early life

Lloyd Green at age 10, in a photo used in promotional materials by the Oahu Music Company
Lloyd Green at age 10, in a photo used in promotional materials by the Oahu Music Company

Green was born on October 4, 1937[3] in Leaf, Mississippi, about 40 miles southeast of Hattiesburg. He moved with his family to Mobile, Alabama at the age of four, where he began to take music lessons.[4] At age seven, he applied for lessons at the Oahu Music Company, but they did not take students under fourteen. Oahu allowed a "test lesson" for him. When they found his strong aptitude, they let him enroll.[5] He was an exceptional student, to the extent that Oahu used him in their promotional materials and newsletters. Green said, "I became the poster child for the course when I was about 10 years old" (see photo).[5] About that time he received his first electric Hawaiian guitar (lap steel), a Rickenbacker Bakelite with an Oahu amplifier. He had the ability to memorize songs quickly and was able to play them back exactly as his teacher had played them.[5] About this time, lap steel guitars were getting pedals added to become the new pedal steel guitar and Green made an improvised pedal to add to his lap steel using an automobile accelerator pedal.[5][2]: 211  He graduated from high school in 1955 and attended the University of Southern Mississippi. Green said, "While in school, I was playing around Mississippi with Justin Tubb, the Wilburn Brothers, the Browns, Hank Locklin. . . It really whetted my appetite.”[5] In 1956 at age 19, he shocked his parents[5] when he decided to take a year off college and move to Nashville to pursue music.[4] After the move, he roomed for a while with another future steel guitar great, Jimmy Day.[3]: 183  A few months after the move, he met his future wife Dot Edwards from Columbia, Tennessee and they were married in 1957.[6]: 1  They have remained together over five decades.[7]: 9 

Getting started

Green joined Faron Young's road band in December 1956 and stayed for 18 months.[4] He soon played steel guitar on his first session, George Jones' "Too Much Water" recorded in the newly-opened RCA Studio in Nashville.[8] After a one month tour with Ferlin Husky, with money tight, he swore never to tour again[3]: 183  and temporarily gave up music to work as a shoe salesman, not playing his guitar for two years.[5] By the spring of 1963 he was ready to try music again. Singer Roy Drusky offered him a job as Drusky's assistant working in the Nashville office of the music licensing company SESAC.[5] At that time, Green didn't have enough money to renew his expired musicians' union card until Fred Rose's widow renewed it for him.[9] The SESAC job put Green in the middle of the action on Nashville's Music Row. He said, "...the first week I was there, Slim Williamson, who owned Chart Records, hired me for a demo and master session."[5] Green began working with a new artist, Lynn Anderson, whose hits for Chart led to her stardom on Columbia Records with hits such as "Rose Garden".[5]

Success

In 1965, Green recorded a demo of a song called "The Bridge Washed Out" for Decca recording artist Warner Mack. Mack liked what Green played on the demo. It was a sharp-edged rapid style on muted strings now known as "chicken pickin'". Mack wanted to hire Green for the master session, but producer Owen Bradley objected.[5] Green was an unknown outsider at the time and Bradley wanted Pete Drake, who was a veteran studio player. Warner persisted and Green got the job.[5] At the session, Bradley was not happy and said over the talkback, "Turn them damn highs off-a that steel! They're killin'my ears".[5] Bassist Bob Moore heard Green play and said, "Son, that’s a career for you right there – there’s your sound!"[5] Moore's positive sentiment was not unanimous– Bradley was not convinced and guitarist Grady Martin issued a one-word expletive.[5] However, when the record came out three months later, it went straight to number one and ushered Green into the circle of studio hit-makers.[5] Well-wishers congratulated Bradley on the hit's ground-breaking new sound and his answer was "Well, I really appreciate that. We knew we were on to something new when we cut it." The unique style was copied by other steel players and remained in vogue for a few years thereafter.[7]: 9 

For the next 15 years, Green remained an elite studio player averaging 400 sessions a year including a string of 17 years of performing on at least three No. 1 songs each year.[6]: 9  He performed on recordings of about 500 artists . A partial list includes Faron Young, Freddie Hart, the Byrds, Charley Pride, Paul McCartney, Ringo Starr, Dolly Parton, Ricky Skaggs, T.G.Sheppard, Ronnie Millsap, Waylon Jennings, Hank Snow, Jerry Lee Lewis, Nanci Griffith, Jim Reeves, Johnny Cash, Johnny Paycheck, and Loretta Lynn.[10] He turned down a U.S. tour with McCartney due to the fact that he didn't want to lose work in Nashville.[4]

His 1968 performance on the Byrds' landmark album Sweetheart of the Rodeo, made the biggest impact on the overall American music audience[7]: 13  and influenced generations of non-mainstream country guitarists.[2]: 211  Music writer Peter Cooper called the album "a genre-bender that illuminated a path that led to modern California Country, Americana and alternative country music".[7]: 11  On the album, Green was featured on You Ain't Goin' Nowhere, Hickory Wind, Nothing Was Delivered, and "One Hundred Years from Now". In Los Angeles, steel guitarist JayDee Maness performed on four other tracks. Green appeared with the Byrds an the Grand Ole Opry on March 16, 1968 to promote the album, but the Byrds were booed and heckled by the conservative Opry audience[7]: 11  who considered them "long-haired outsiders".[7]: 11 . Part of the reason was that Gram Parsons assured the presenter that he would sing a couple of Merle Haggard tunes, but then instead inserted one his own songs, "Hickory Wind".[11] In 2018, Green and fellow steel guitarist JayDee Maness teamed up to make a tribute album called Journey to the Beginningː A Steel Guitar Tribute to the Byrds.[12]

Many steel guitarists point to Green's 1968 performance on Charlie Pride's In Person album as the highlight of Green's career to that point.[7]: 13  It demonstrates Green's skill in bringing out a vocal performance without overplaying. Afficionados call it the "best live steel album ever cut" and it is Green's personal favorite album to have played on.[7]: 13  It also signaled an alteration in his style to a gentler sound.[7]: 13 In addition to his work as a sideman, Green has cut several of his own LPs and had a top 40 hit with his instrumental version of “I Can See Clearly Now.”

Later years

In the 1980s, an inner ear ailment which distorted his hearing forced Green to stop working.[6]: 13  Green said, "It was a nightmarish experience. It went on for about a year before I quit doing sessions. Everything sounded terrible [to me]."[6]: 13  He described it as a half-step different pitch in each ear.[6]: 13  After a few years the problem resolved and he tried to return to session work after a 15 year hiatus but younger players and different styles had evolved and producers and record labels would not hire him.[6]: 15  Green was inducted into the Steel Guitar Hall of Fame in 1988.[13] He has performed with over 500 artists, has played on 116 number one hits, and over 100 top ten hits.[14] He was featured with a speaking part on Ken Burns' Country Music documentary film in 2019.[8]

Instruments

Green 's first steel guitar at age seven was an Oahu-brand acoustic model. It was basically a traditional guitar usually made for Oahu by Kay or Harmony, modified with an adapter to raise the strings so it could be played "Hawaiian style" across the knees using a steel.[15] He moved up to a 1943/1944 Rickenbacker Bakelite electric at age ten (1947) with an Oahu amplifier (see photo).[5] After hearing Bud Isaacs' playing on the hit song 'Slowly' in 1952, lap steel players began to switch to pedal steel.[16] About that time Green was playing a Fender Stringmaster lap steel which had been retrofitted with pedals.[5] In 1956, he was hired by Faron Young for an 18 month tour. Young said Green's steel was an "embarrassment" because it looked so shoddy, then loaned Green a triple-neck Bigsby model with one pedal.[5]

Green left Faron Young in mid 1958, and received a new guitar courtesy of Shot Jackson, who traded Green's old Fender for a Rickenbacker doubleneck with two retrofitted pedals.[5] Green used this "Rick" for the next three years. In 1963, he played a double-neck Bigsby on which Jackson added six pedals.[5] By 1964 he played Sho-Bud steels and in 1966 changed to a Sho-Bud "fingertip" double 10 model which he played on many country hits.

In 1973, Green designed a guitar for Sho-Bud. It was a single E9 neck on a double neck cabinet. The empty space (usually filled by a C6 neck) was a padded blank. Prior to this, a single neck on a double neck cabinet setup did not exist. Called the LDG, the guitar was named for Green, but the middle initial was incorrect. This was done purposely and with Green's knowledge by Sho-Bud's David Jackson but the exact reason is unclear.[5] It was the fourth and last Sho-Bud guitar that Lloyd played on sessions. Green used three different Sho-Bud volume pedals, rotating them at intervals to keep the pots working efficiently.[5] He owned a 1943 Dobro square neck (serial number A–147) given to him by Hank Williams Jr. during a recording session in 1969. Green used it on many sessions, most notably on Don Williams' records.[5]

Discography as a solo artist

Albums

Year Album US Country Label
1964 Hawaiian Enchantment (his name is not featured on the cover) Modern Sound
Big Steel Guitar (aka The Big Steel Guitar) Time
1966 Day for Decision Little Darlin
1967 The Hit Sounds
1968 Mr. Nashville Sound 37 Chart
Cool Steel Man
1969 Green Country Little Darlin
1970 Moody River Chart
Music City Sound (with Pete Wade) MGM
1971 Lloyd Green and His Steel Guitar Prize
1973 Shades of Steel 21 Monument
1975 Steel Rides 47
Ten Shades of Green Midland
1977 Stainless Steel (aka Feelings) GRT
1980 Lloyd's of Nashville Midland
1992 Reflections Spark
2003 Revisited LG
2018 Journey to the Beginning: A Steel Guitar Tribute to The Byrds ‘Sweetheart of the Rodeo' (with Jay Dee Maness) Coastal Bend

Also appears on

Singles

Year Single Chart Positions Album
US Country CAN Country
1967 "Pedal Pattle (aka Pedal Paddle) "The Hit Sounds"
1968 "Mr. Nashville Sound" Mr. Nashville Sound
1969 "Bar Hoppin'" Cool Steel Man
"Robin" Moody River
"Tell Ya What"
1970 "Ride Ride Ride" Mr. Nashville Sound
"My Happiness" (with Pete Wade) Music City Sound
"Release Me" (with Pete Wade)
1971 "Midnight Silence" Lloyd Green and His Steel Guitar
"Sound Waves"
1972 "Morning Has Broken" Shades of Steel
1973 "I Can See Clearly Now" 36 98
"Here Comes the Sun" 73
"Dixie Drive-In"
1974 "Atlantis"
"Seaside" Steel Rides
"Canadian Sunset"
1975 "Sally G"
"I Can Help"
1976 "Darisa" Ten Shades of Green
"You and Me" 92 Feelings
1977 "Feelings"
"Whistler" single only
1979 "Ricochet" Lloyd's of Nashville

References

  1. ^ "Lloyd Green Tribute". 2008-07-01. Retrieved 2008-07-26.
  2. ^ a b c Rumble, John; McCall, Michael; Kingsbury, Paul (2012). The Encyclopedia of Country Music : the ultimate guide to the music (ebook) (2nd ed.). New York: Oxford University Press. ISBN 9780199920839. Retrieved August 20, 2021.
  3. ^ a b c Erlewine, Michael; Bogdanoff, Vladimir; Woodstra, Chris; Erlewine, Stephen T. (1997). All music guide to country : the experts' guide to the best recordings in country music. San Francisco, CA: Miller Freeman. p. 183. ISBN 0879304758. Retrieved August 19, 2021.
  4. ^ a b c d "Lloyd Green Biography". Oldies.com. Retrieved 2008-07-26.
  5. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x Kienzle, Rich (September 1, 2008). "Lloyd Green: From the A-Team to Americana". Vintage Guitar (September, 2008). Retrieved August 16, 2021.
  6. ^ a b c d e f Cooper, Peter (July 20, 2003). "Prolific picker ready to fire up his steel guitar" (Vo1. 99, No.21). The Tennessean. p. 1. Retrieved August 18, 2021.
  7. ^ a b c d e f g h i Cooper, Peter (July 20, 2003). "Return to Glory" (Vol. 99, No.201). The Tennessean. p. D–9. Retrieved August 20, 2021.
  8. ^ a b Burns, Ken. "Country Musicː A Film by Ken Burns/ Participant biographies". pbs.org. Public Broadcasting Service. Retrieved August 20, 2021.
  9. ^ Loftus, Johnny. "Lloyd Greenː Artist Biography". allmusic.com. AllMusic. Retrieved August 21, 2021.
  10. ^ "Lloyd Green/Credits". allmusic.com. Retrieved August 21, 2021.
  11. ^ Unterberger, Richie (1999). Music USA : the rough guide. London: Rough Guides. p. 99. ISBN 185828421X. Retrieved August 20, 2021.
  12. ^ "Lloyd Green/Credits". allmusic.com. Retrieved August 21, 2021.
  13. ^ Scott, DeWitt. "The Steel Guitar Hall of Fame/". scottysmusic.com. The Steel Guitar Hall of Fame. Retrieved May 6, 2021.
  14. ^ "Lloyd Green on Top Forty Records". lloydgreentribute.com. Retrieved August 20, 2021.
  15. ^ Bromham, Nathan. "Guitar List: Oahu Guitars". guitar-list.com. Retrieved May 5, 2021.
  16. ^ Miller, Tim Sterner (2017). The Oxford Handbook of Country Music. New York, NY: Oxford University Press. ISBN 9780190248178. Retrieved December 3, 2020.