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Weldon Myrick died Monday at Saint Thomas Hospital

WELDON
MYRICK
INSTRUMENTAL
FORCE FOR HALF OF CENTURY

Steel
Guitar Hall of Famer Weldon Myrick, an instrumental force in country music for
half a century, died Monday at Saint Thomas Hospital, after suffering a stroke.
He was 76.
Mr.
Myrick’s first indelible contribution to country music came on July 16, 1964,
when he played steel guitar on “Once a Day,” the Bill Anderson-penned
song that became an eight-week No. 1 country hit and provided an entrance into
the mainstream for Connie Smith.
Now
a member of the Country Music Hall of Fame, Smith calls Mr. Myrick, “The
guy who was responsible for creating the Connie Smith sound.”
“Weldon
was so creative,” Smith told Colin Escott, who wrote the liner notes to
her Bear Family boxed set, “Born To Sing.” “He was always
working on a new lick or a new sound, and he was so loyal to me.”
Mr.
Myrick’s part on “Once A Day” was prominent enough that he could have
been credited as a duo partner.  “‘Once a Day’ is a catchy
true-confessions tear-fest with Smith tear-ing through the song and Weldon
Myric’s steel guitar acting as the sob sister that bawls right back at
her,'” wrote Dana Jennings in “Sing Me Back Home: Love, Death, and
Country Music.”
For
“Once a Day,” producer Bob Ferguson wanted a bright steel sound and
actually adjusted Myrick’s amplifier to get that sound. Myrick told Escott,
“I thought it was an awfully thin sound, but it wound up being very
popular.”
The
song afforded Mr. Myrick the notoriety to adjust his own amplifier any way he
liked, and he played on varying styles across the decades.
Mr.
Myrick’s steel graces Bill Anderson’s “Bright Lights and Country
Music,” Jerry Jeff Walker’s “Mr. Bojangles,” Donna Fargo’s
“Happiest Girl in the Whole U.S.A.,” Delbert McClinton’s “Victim
of Life’s Circumstances,” Linda Ronstadt’s “Long Long Time,”
Alan Jackson’s “Chattahoochee,” George Strait’s “Let’s Fall to
Pieces Together,” Ronnie Milsap’s “Houston Solution” and many
more.  He was the first call to play steel on Neil Young’s “Heart of
Gold,” but was booked up and ceded that session to Ben Keith.
Mr.
Myrick, born and raised in Jayton, Texas, started playing steel at age 8 after
steel-playing brother Tex went into the Air Force and left his instrument at
home. As a teenager, Mr. Myrick and fellow Texas youth Waylon Jennings came to
Nashville and recorded with a Lubbock-based singer named Hope Griffith. He
visited Music City again in 1958 to record for Capitol Records as part of the
Ben Hall Trio, then returned to Texas and worked as a policeman in Big Spring
for a few years.
In
1963, Mr. Myrick moved to Nashville and found work making music with Anderson,
himself a future Country Music Hall of Famer. Anderson heard Smith singing at a
country music park in Ohio, encouraged her to move to Nashville and encouraged
her to record with his deft young steel player.  When “Once a
Day” hit, Mr. Myrick joined Smith’s band, but he soon left the road to
focus on recording. In 1966, he joined the “Grand Ole Opry: staff band.
Mr. Myrick played on the “Opry” regularly for 32 years. He also
recorded as a singer for Starday, Prize and other labels.
“I
was very fortunate that I got to record with all of my heroes over the
years,” Mr. Myrick wrote in the liner notes of his “Keepsakes”
compilation. “I accomplished more than I ever dreamed.”
Upon
learning of Mr. Myrick’s death, fellow Pedal Steel Hall of Famer Lloyd Green
said, “He was a good person and a really fine steel player. You’ll never
hear an unkind word about this man.”

By
Peter Cooper-Tennessean

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