Jerry Byrd

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For the sportswriter, see Jerry Byrd (sportswriter).
Jerry Byrd
Jerry Byrd.jpg
Background information
Birth name Gerald Lester Byrd
Born (1920-03-09)March 9, 1920
Lima, Ohio, United States
Died April 11, 2005(2005-04-11) (aged 85)
Honolulu, Hawaii, United States
Genres Country, honky tonk, Hawaiian music
Occupation(s) Musician
Instruments Lap steel guitar
Years active 1935–2005
Associated acts Ernest Tubb, Hank Williams, Patsy Cline, Red Foley, many others

Gerald Lester Byrd, known as Jerry Byrd (March 9, 1920 – April 11, 2005), was an American musician who played Lap steel guitar in country and Hawaiian music.


Byrd was born in Lima, Ohio. His interest in the instrument began after a "tent show" when he was 12 and by 15 he was playing in bars. Although his initial interest was Hawaiian music much of his work was country. In 1944/1945 he joined the Grand Ole Opry.[1] He was important to the early career of Dolly Parton being one of the first to sign her. He also was an educator of the steel guitar giving lessons to Jimmie Vaughan and Jerry Garcia among others. The list of artists that Byrd played or recorded with included Hank Williams, Ernest Tubb, Patsy Cline and Red Foley and countless others. With Hank Williams he played songs like I'm So Lonesome I Could Cry, Lovesick Blues and Mansion on the Hill.[2] In the early 1970s he moved to Hawaii and worked on reviving Hawaiian steel guitar music, taking a great delight in giving lap steel lessons to the young musicians who showed interest in ensuring that the lap steel remained an important instrument in Hawaiian music. While living in Hawaii, Byrd had a regular weekly gig with his trio at the Royal Hawiian Hotel that lasted until his death. Though Byrd often joked about pedal steel guitar players, he had nothing but the highest of praise for Buddy Emmons, saying he had taken the steel guitar to new places with his playing.


Byrd died of Parkinson's disease at 85 in Honolulu, Hawaii.[3]

Awards and recognition[edit]

He was inducted into the Steel Guitar Hall of Fame in 1978 as # 1.[4]


Studio albums[edit]

  • Nani Hawaii (1953) Mercury
  • Byrd's Exhibition (1954) Mercury
  • Guitar Magic (1954) Mercury
  • Hi-Fi Guitar (1958) Decca
  • On the Shores of Waikiki (1960) Decca
  • Byrd of Paradise (1961) Monument
  • Memories of Maria (1962) Monument
  • Satin Strings of Steel Monument
  • Blue Hawaiian Steel Guitar (1963) Mercury
  • Man of Steel (1964) Mercury
  • Potpourri (1966) Monument
  • Burning Sands, Pearly Shells, & Steel Guitars (1967) Monument
  • Country Steel Guitar Greats (1966) Wing
  • Steel Guitar Hawaiian Style (1976) Lehua
  • Polynesian Suite (1995) Sony Music Distribution
  • Christmas in Hawaii (2003) Lehua


  • Jerry Byrd: By Request (2002) Mountain Apple
  • Steel Guitar (2002) Mountain Apple
  • The Master of Touch and Tone (2005) Mountain Apple
  • Master of the Steel Guitar, Vol. 1 (2005) Hana Ola—Rsi

As sideman[edit]

With Jack McDuff

With Don Patterson

Additional reading[edit]

  • Byrd, Jerry (2003). It Was a Trip, On Wings of Music. Centerstream Publications. ISBN 978-1-57424-131-0. 


External links[edit]