Buddy Merrill, (born as Leslie Merrill Behunin, Jr.) is the oldest of four children whose father was also a musician. He was born in Torrey, Utah. At age eight, he got his first guitar and soon enough, began performing live with his father's band, The Fremont River Rangers. When he was eleven, he even appeared with his dad live on local television station KDYL in Salt Lake City.
When the family moved out to Los Angeles, California in the early 1950s, Buddy continued to perfect his musical skills, playing both the acoustic guitar and the steel guitar. He also began to do home recordings of himself playing rhythm guitar to a song, which was how the legendary Les Paul did it in the recording studios, though Paul overdubbed multiple guitar parts. He also continued to perform live throughout high school in dances, social functions and at clubs.
The Lawrence Welk Show
Merrill joined The Lawrence Welk Show in 1955, the same year it first went national on ABC. At nineteen his youth and energy made him very popular with the ladies and his artistry with the guitar made him highly-sought after as a live performer, studio musician and also garnered him respect within the music industry. He briefly left the show from 1959 to 1962 when he was drafted by the Army. On his return to the Music Makers he was joined in the band's rhythm section with fellow guitarist Neil Levang. For the next twelve years the two would be television's most dynamic guitar duo, attracting a whole legion of fans and admirers.
Accomplishments after Welk
In 1974, Buddy left the Welk orchestra to devote more time to writing music and recording for Accent Records (US). He had signed with the latter in 1964, creating a lasting partnership with owner Scott Seely on both a personal and professional level. Buddy continued to perform live, either as a solo artist or with a band, until 1988 when he retired from the road. He also continued to perform as a studio musician. He even penned a symphonic work, "Living Sea," as well as original compositions for tape programmers and television commercials. Today he lives in Murrieta, California with his wife Connie, whom he married in 1983.
- Classics in Rhythm, Accent ACD 5054, 2001
- Classic Guitars, Accent ACD 6042, 2001
- Guitars Express, ACD 6041, 1998
- The Exciting Guitars of Buddy Merrill, ACD 5038, 1998
- World of Guitars, ACD 6030, 1994 (sampler of Buddy's compositions)
- Beyond the Reef, ACD 5034, 1992
- Classics in Rhythm, ACS 5054, 1980
- Guitar Sounds of Buddy Merrill, ACS 50100, 1977
- Buddy Merrill Today, ACS 5052, 1975
- Upbeat M.O.R., ACS 5048, 1975
- World of Guitars, ACS 5042, 1972
- Country Capers, ACS 5040, 1972
- 25 Great All-Time Hits, ACS 5038, 1971
- Steel Guitar Country,ACS 5036, 1970
- Beyond the Reef,ACS 5034, 1970
- Guitar Sounds of the 70's, ACS 5032, 1970
- The Best of Buddy Merrill, ACS 5034, 1969
- Electrosonic Guitars, ACS 5028, 1969
- Land of a Thousand Guitars, ACS 5026, 1967
- Sounds of Love, ACS 5024, 1967
- The Many Splendored Guitars of Buddy Merrill, ACS 5022, 1967
- Guitars on Fire, Accent SQBO 91997
- The Exciting World of Buddy Merrill, ACS 5020, 1966
- Latin Festival, ACS 5018, 1966
- Holiday from Guitars, Accent AC 5016, 1965
- The Guitar Sounds of Buddy Merrill, ACS 5010, 1965
- Songs of the Islands (with Lawrence Welk), Dot DLP 3251, 1960 (re-issued by Ranwood R 8022 and R 2007)