Red Rhodes

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Red Rhodes
Birth nameOrville J. Rhodes
Also known asRed
Born(1930-12-30)December 30, 1930
Alton, Illinois
DiedAugust 20, 1995(1995-08-20) (aged 64)
Los Angeles, California
GenresCountry, country rock
Instrument(s)Pedal steel guitar
Years active1960s - 1990s
LabelsCrown; Countryside; Exact; Happy Tiger; Alshire

Orville J. Rhodes, better known as Red Rhodes or O. J. Rhodes (December 30, 1930 – August 20, 1995), was an American pedal steel guitarist.[1]

Early life[edit]

Rhodes' mother taught him to play the Dobro resonator guitar when he was five years old. When he turned fifteen, he switched to the steel guitar. He was a boxer and an oil company engineer before he settled into music.


Rhodes moved to Los Angeles in 1960 and became a session musician.[2]

Rhodes played pedal steel on many country rock, pop, and rock albums of artists such as The Monkees, Michael Nesmith, James Taylor, The Beach Boys, Seals and Crofts, The Byrds, The Carpenters, Spanky and Our Gang, and many others, as part of the Wrecking Crew studio musicians. He is remembered for his work with former Monkee Michael Nesmith on Nesmith's solo albums in the early 1970s.[3] Rhodes is credited with the "other-worldly" effects created with pedal steel on The Ventures' "futuristic" LP The Ventures in Space, released in 1964.[4]

In the late 1970s, Rhodes shifted his focus from performing to guitar electronics at his Royal Amplifier Service shop in Hollywood, California. There, Rhodes modified amplifiers and created his custom Velvet Hammer guitar pickups for James Burton, Clarence White, and other guitarists.[citation needed] His shop staff included future instrument makers David Schecter, Michael Tobias, and Bill Chapin.[citation needed]

Rheumatoid arthritis restricted Rhodes' public performances and recordings in the 1980s and 1990s, with the notable exception of his appearance on Michael Nesmith's Tropical Campfires album and tour in 1992. Rhodes fell ill soon after this tour, and died on August 20, 1995, from interstitial lung fibrosis.[2]


Solo projects[5][edit]

Year Title Label Number Notes
1966 Guitars Go Country Crown CLP-5483, CST-483 LP
1966 Once A Day Crown CLP-5520, CST-520 LP
1966 Blue, Blue Day And Other Steel Guitar Country and Western Favorites Crown CLP-5528, CST-528 LP
1966 Steel Guitar Rag And Other Country and Western Favorites Crown CLP-5555, CST-555 LP
1968 Steel Guitar Favorites Somerset/Stereo Fidelity SF-31300 LP
1969 Live at the Palomino Happy Tiger HT-1003-S LP
1973 Velvet Hammer In A Cowboy Band Countryside CM-102, CM-0598 LP

Session work[edit]


  1. ^ "Orville Rhodes; Country and Western Musician". Los Angeles Times. 23 August 1995. Retrieved April 2, 2023.
  2. ^ a b Brennan, Sandra. "Red Rhodes - Biography". AllMusic. Retrieved April 2, 2023.
  3. ^ "Biography for Red Rhodes". IMDb. Retrieved April 2, 2023.
  4. ^ Eden, Dawn (1992). The Ventures Play Telstar, The Lonely Bull and Others/Ventures in Space (CD insert). The Ventures. Hollywood, CA: EMI America Records. E2-80239. Retrieved April 2, 2023.
  5. ^ Praguefrank (November 25, 2021). "Red Rhodes". Praguefrank's Country Music Discographies. Retrieved August 26, 2023.

External links[edit]