|Birth name||Gerald Lester Byrd|
|Born||March 9, 1920|
Lima, Ohio, U.S.
|Died||April 11, 2005 (aged 85)|
Honolulu, Hawaii, U.S
|Genres||Country, honky tonk, Hawaiian music|
|Instrument(s)||Lap steel guitar|
Gerald Lester Byrd (March 9, 1920 – April 11, 2005) was an American musician who played the lap steel guitar in country and Hawaiian music, as well as a singer-songwriter and the head of a music publishing firm. He appeared on numerous radio programs.
Byrd was born in Lima, Ohio, United States, one of five siblings, 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. 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 such as "I'm So Lonesome I Could Cry", "Lovesick Blues" and "A Mansion on the Hill." 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 Hawaiian 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.
Personal life and death
He published his autobiography It Was a Trip: On The Wings of Music. Byrd died of Parkinson's disease at 85 in Honolulu, Hawaii, where he had resided for 30 years; he was survived by wife Kaleo Wood and two daughters.
Awards and recognition
- Nani Hawaii (1953) Mercury
- Byrd's Exhibition (1954) Mercury
- Guitar Magic (1954) Mercury
- Steel Guitar Favorites (1958) Mercury
- Hi-Fi Guitar (1958) Decca
- On the Shores of Waikiki (1960) Decca
- Byrd of Paradise (1961) Monument
- Memories of Maria (1962) Monument
- Blue Hawaiian Steel Guitar (1963) Mercury
- Man of Steel (1964) Mercury
- Satin Strings of Steel (1965) Monument
- 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
This section needs expansion. You can help by adding to it. (January 2013)
Other players on Hank's recordings include Dale "Smokey" Lohman (Early recordings), also Don Davis played one or two sessions with Hank. From 1950 on it was Don Helms."
With Jack McDuff
- Gin and Orange (Cadet, 1969)
With Don Patterson
- Satisfaction! (Prestige, 1965)
- Byrd, Jerry (2003). It Was a Trip, On Wings of Music. Centerstream Publications. ISBN 978-1-57424-131-0.
- Colin Larkin, ed. (1993). The Guinness Who's Who of Country Music (First ed.). Guinness Publishing. p. 60. ISBN 0-85112-726-6.
- "Jerry Byrd | 120 min. Interview". Countrymusichalloffame.org. Retrieved August 5, 2021.
- "Jerry Byrd". Hillbilly-music.com.
- "Kayton Roberts Interview - The Steel Guitar Forum". Steelguitarforum.com.
- "Jerry Byrd, Steel Guitarist, Dies at 85". The New York Times. April 17, 2005.
- "Jerry Byrd, steel guitar pioneer | The Honolulu Advertiser | Hawaii's Newspaper". The.honoluluadvertiser.com.