Steel Guitar News

Hello fellow players,

As promised, I will devote this newsletter to the legendary Ralph Mooney.  Big basic facts, you can get from google and many other places, however I will give you just some warm, personal memories that I have of this wonderful, fun guy and great player.

I�ll never forget in one of my first passes through Nashville in the late fifties, stopping by Buddy Emmons house on the way from Virginia to Oklahoma.  Buddy being the gracious host that he was, invited me into his house and there were 45 rpm records all over the floor.  I reached down and picked up a Buck Owens record entitled �I�ll Play Second Fiddle�.   

I had heard this record many times on the radio and marveled at the great steel guitar.  I told Buddy, �I sure love what you did on this record session.�

He said, �Well I�m glad you like it, but that�s not me.�  He said, �That is Ralph Mooney.�

I was astounded and said, �Well I�ve been telling everybody it was you.�

Then Buddy busted out with a laugh and a big smile and said, �Keep telling them that.�

When I got out of the Air Force I joined the a western swing band based out of Duncan, Oklahoma.  While playing one night in Duncan, a nice gentleman came up to the stage and said �Could you guys do Crazy Arms?  My brother wrote that song and I just want to help keep it going around.�

I said, �Then your last name better be Mooney because Ralph Mooney wrote Crazy Arms.�

He replied, �Yes.  My name is Cecil Mooney.�

It�s kind of ironic that my career playing steel guitar took off in the same town that Ralph Mooney started his career.  One of our first major bands that we worked with was The Merle Lindley Band out of Oklahoma City.

Mooney went to Bakersfield, California.  He worked with The Skeets McDonald Band.  Ralph never really did have a great steel guitar in the beginning and just played a home modified little double eight Magnatone guitar that he put two pedals on which was the start of his style that he used on the Buck Owens hits Under Your Spell Again, Above and Beyond, Foolin� Around and on the great Jan Howard hit I�d Rather Be The One You Slip Around With.

Mooney worked the road for a little while with some big stars, but while I was visiting with him one night in Las Vegas, he confided in me that he hated working the road and was going to quit and his time in Las Vegas was stretched out to about six years.

During this time he worked recording sessions with Bobby Austin and Merle Haggard and spent a lot of time working in Haggard�s club in Vegas named The Nashvegas Club on South Fremont Street.

The thing that put Mooney over the top was what he and James Burton played on Merle Haggard�s �Sing Me Back Home�, �Swingin� Doors� and �The Bottle Let Me Down�.  He wrote several successful songs, the most popular being �Crazy Arms� which was a great hit for Ray Price and also rejuvenated Linda Ronstadt�s career.

The most fun and the things most steel players will remember about �Moon� as he was affectionately called, were just the visits they had with him while sitting in a bar or restaurant.  I remember standing on the stage beside him as he was being inducted into the Steel Guitar Hall of Fame and him telling me later how much he appreciated me being with him.

He told me he was always totally at a loss every time he had to stand up while on the stage.  He never knew what to say or how to act and he was so glad I was there when he got his award.  

I said, �Well, how are you going to repay me for this, Ralph?�

He said, �I guess I�ll just have to be there when they put you in the Hall of Fame.�  This was a wonderful thing for him to say, but unfortunately I think I�ve outlived his offer.

This is a hard newsletter to close on because I have so many things to say about this great player and wonderful guy.

Any time I see a home-built pedal on a Magnatone steel or a Fender 1000 I have to think about the great friend we all had in Ralph Mooney.

I just received a call from Ray Rider.  Ray was the road manager for Waylon Jennings through the 80�s.  He always brought Mooney�s guitars for me to service when they had a slight break in their road schedule.  Ray came in the store one day and said, �I�d like to get Mooney a new steel guitar for his birthday next month and upon calling the factory, they said you, Bobbe Seymour, were the only one that they knew of that could put one together for him, setup the way he likes it.�

I told Ray that I could and would.  It was a black Sho-Bud Super Pro with wood necks.  The inside neck was his main neck that he played his E9th style on.  The outside neck was tuned like a �G� dobro.  The inside neck just had one knee lever.  I would the pickups to 9000 ohms to try to get that old Fender tone.

The band presented Mooney with this steel guitar during a San Antonio show that Waylon was hosting.  Mooney called me after the show telling me what a surprise it was and how happy he was with the guitar.  I said, �Well thank Ray Rider and the band.  They�re the ones that paid me for it.�
This showed me how much all his fellow employees and people that worked the closest to him thought of him.  I had better bring this letter to a close because I could go on forever.  I have many stories of this guy and our friendship.  God Bless him and may he rest in peace.

With respect,

Steel Guitar Nashville
123 Mid Town Court
Hendersonville, TN. 37075
(615) 822-5555
Open 9AM � 4PM Monday � Friday
Closed Saturday and Sunday

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