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. His mother taught him to play the Dobro at the age of five, but at the age of fifteen he switched to the steel guitar. He was a boxer and an oil company engineer before he settled into music.[1] He moved to Los Angeles in 1960 and became a session musician.[2]

Rhodes played pedal steel on many country rock, pop and rock albums with The Monkees, Michael Nesmith, James Taylor, The Beach Boys, Seals and Crofts, The Byrds, The Carpenters, Spanky and Our Gang, and many other groups, as part of the Wrecking Crew studio musicians. He is most often remembered for his work with former Monkee Michael Nesmith on Nesmith's solo albums in the early 1970s.[3] Rhodes is also credited with the "other-worldly" effects he created with pedal steel on The Ventures futuristic album The Ventures in Space 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, Gerald Ray[5] and other influential guitarists.[6] His shop staff included future instrument makers David Schecter, Michael Tobias and Bill Chapin.

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.[2]


Solo projects[edit]

  • Once a Day and Other Steel Guitar Country & Western Favorites, 1961, Crown
  • Blue Blue Day and Other Steel Guitar Country & Western Favorites, 1962, Crown
  • Steel Guitar Rag and Other Country and Western Favorites, 1963, Crown
  • Red Rhodes Live at The Palomino, 1969, Happy Tiger
  • Velvet Hammer in a Cowboy Band, 1973, Countryside
  • Red Rhodes' Steel Guitar, 1979, Alshire
  • Fantastic Steel Guitar, 1980, Exact
  • Steel Guitar Favorites, 1990, Alshire

Session work[edit]


  1. ^ "Orville Rhodes; Country and Western Musician". LA Times. Retrieved 2016-02-04.
  2. ^ a b Brennan, Sandra. "Red Rhodes - Biography". allmusic. Retrieved 2009-06-12.
  3. ^ "Biography for Red Rhodes". IMDB. Retrieved 2009-06-13.
  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.
  5. ^ Gerald Ray
  6. ^ he worked with Aspen of Groovetubes and made their GT electronics amp. "Products". Velvet Hammer Pickups. Archived from the original on 2011-04-29. Retrieved 2009-06-13.