December 11, 1935|
Stella, Missouri, USA
|Died||February 3, 2009
San Antonio, Texas, USA
|Associated acts||Buck Owens, The Buckaroos, Rick Nelson, The Desert Rose Band|
Tom Brumley (December 11, 1935 – February 3, 2009) was an American steel guitarist who played with Buck Owens and the Buckaroos in the 1960s, contributing to the group's "Bakersfield sound", and later spent a decade with Ricky Nelson.
Brumley was born on December 11, 1935, in Stella, Missouri, to gospel singer, composer and music publisher Albert E. Brumley, whose songs included "I'll Fly Away", "I'll Meet You in the Morning" and "Turn Your Radio On". He started playing the bass as a teenager with his brothers Al, Bill, Bob and Jackson, in a band that performed on area radio and television stations and at local music festivals. He started on the steel guitar in 1954. He served two years in the United States Army, and worked at his father's music publishing company after completing his military service.
His brother Al had been signed by Capitol Records and Tom was asked to play steel guitar at a 1962 recording session. Buck Owens happened to be at the session and heard Brumley play, saying that he would hire him to play if he ever had the chance. Brumley lived in North Hollywood, played at clubs in the area, and moved to Kingsland, Texas, to work at his father-in-law's construction firm. There he got a call to play with Owens, and his reluctance to be back on the night scene and bars was overcome by his father in law, who told him, "You know, if you don't do this, you'll wish you had. So I want you to try it. You can always come back to Kingsland, but at least you'll know what you want to do and won't be sorry".
With Owens from 1963 until 1969, Brumley was featured on recordings including "Act Naturally", "I've Got a Tiger By the Tail" and "Together Again". His performance on "Together Again" has been considered "one of the finest steel guitar solos in the history of country music", as described in an obituary by Country Music Television. His unique steel guitar sound was known as "The Brumley Touch" and he was recognized by the Academy of Country Music as the top steel guitarist.
Rick Nelson lured Brumley to play on his album In Concert at the Troubadour, 1969, accepting on a commitment that he would only do four shows with Nelson, but ended up performing with him for a decade. In a 2005 interview, Brumley called it "a godsend being asked to join Rick's band, and I still think "Garden Party" was a highlight of my recording career".
During a short hiatus from working with Ricky Nelson, Brumley played pedal steel guitar on Guthrie Thomas' album Lies and Alibis (1976).
He spent three years with Chris Hillman and The Desert Rose Band during the early 1990s, and performed at the Brumley Family Music Show in Branson, Missouri from 1989 to 2003, with his sons Todd and Tommy. He also performed or recorded with artists including Glen Campbell, Guthrie Thomas, Merle Haggard, Chris Isaak, Waylon Jennings, Martina McBride, Reba McEntire, Ray Price and Rod Stewart, and was inducted into both the Texas Steel Guitar Hall of Fame and the International Steel Guitar Hall of Fame.
In 1999, he was asked to record with the Light Crust Doughboys by invitation of Doughboys Grammy Award-Winning artist-producer Art Greenhaw, a lifelong fan of Brumley. Resulting recordings took place over a several-year period in Branson, Missouri, and Dallas, Texas, and spanned several musical genres including gospel, country, country-rock and patriotic.
Brumley died at age 73 on February 3, 2009, at Northeast Baptist Hospital in San Antonio, Texas, a little more than a week after experiencing a heart attack. He was survived by his wife of 48 years, Rolene, two sons, a daughter, six grandchildren and a great-grandson.
- Mclellan, Dennis. "Tom Brumley dies at 73; steel guitarist for Buck Owens and Rick Nelson", Los Angeles Times, February 6, 2009. Accessed February 5, 2009.
- Staff. "Tom Brumley, Member of Buck Owens' Buckaroos, Dies in Texas", Country Music Television, February 4, 2009. Accessed February 5, 2009.