Harold Bradley, Legendary Hall of Fame Guitarist, Dead at 93
Harold Bradley, a Country Music Hall of Famer and Nashville Music Row pioneer, has died. The 93-year-old can be heard on more records than perhaps any instrumentalist in history.
Country music industry trade Music Row first shared the news on Thursday (Jan. 31), revealing that Bradley had died in his sleep. Historian Robert K. Oermann wrote the Nashville native's eulogy, covering his business and musical partnership with older brother Owen Bradley, the creation of the Bradley Film & Recording Studio — the first entertainment business on Music Row — and the many, many artists of all genres he worked with.
Bradley's recording career began at age 20 in 1946 in Chicago, after he returned home from service in the Navy during World War II. His 60-year career included work for Elvis Presley, Buddy Holly, Hank Williams, Loretta Lynn, Charley Pride, Conway Twitty, Willie Nelson, Dolly Parton, Johnny Cash and more. Here are a few of the hit songs his instrumental work can be heard on, according to Music Row:
Johnny Horton, "The Battle of New Orleans"
John Anderson, "Swingin'"
Patsy Cline, "Crazy"
Loretta Lynn, "Coal Miner's Daughter"
Tammy Wynette, "Stand by Your Man"
Roger Miller, "King of the Road"
Jeannie C. Riley, "Harper Valley P.T.A."
Known as a guitarist Bradley was actually a talented multi-instrumentalist who even enjoyed a decade as a solo artist on Columbia Records. He was part of the Nashville A-Team, a group of studio musicians that included Hargus "Pig" Robbins, Chet Atkins, Johnny Gimble, Ralph Mooney, Earl Scruggs and more.
Bradley was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame in 2006 and the Musicians Hall of Fame in 2007. Owen Bradley died in 1998.
Country Music Hall of Fame CEO Kyle Young issued the following statement on Thursday:
"For decades, Harold Bradley went to work doing something that he called 'playing.' He surveyed every sonic situation and determined what he could do to make things better, more melodic, and more harmonious. There are lessons in Harold's approach to playing that go far beyond music. He lived his life with kindness, gentility, and discretion. On hopeful days, I will try to view Harold Bradley as an inspiration and not an aberration."
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