Monday, April 5, 2010

Jerry Byrd - Steel Guitar Favorites

Jerry Byrd was arguably the best lap steel player of all time. I`m not going to attempt to go into any biographical information on Jerry Byrd, as there is plenty of information about him on the internet.
This LP has some great songs and is very well titled as Steel Guitar Favorites. About all the tunes are required standards of lap steel and even if you play country Dobro, these are still great tunes in that style.
Most of these tunes are old standard Hawaiian type songs, although the tunes are not "real" Hawaiian tunes. Steel Guitar Rag is likely the best known tune here, but was originally recorded as Guitar Rag by Roy Harvey & Leonard Copeland in the late 20`s in a standard guitar duet. Lime House Blues was a hit of Sol Hooppi, a popular Hawaiian player in the 20`s & 30s.
About my favorite here is Wabash Wah-Wah Blues. I play Dobro and sometimes play the old Wabash Blues. The "wah-wah" is an effect Jerry Byrd pretty much invented that can be made only with the old electric steel. I don`t play lap steel, but I believe the "wah-wah" effect is made either by tweaking the volume of the tone knob up and down quickly.
Jerry Byrd is hugely responsible for the steel guitar being used in country music. He is also enormously responsible for keeping Hawaiian music popular after the Hawaiian music "boom" of the teens, 20`s and early 30`s started dying out.
Enjoy this great record! Listen to it and you`ll see how much influence Jerry has had on country music sounds we heard in the late 40`s and 50`s and later.

Click here to download Jerry Byrd - Steel Guitar Favorites


  1. Hello Allen,
    Thanks a lot for this LP.
    I did'nt have this one so you really make me happy.
    Greetings, Cyril.

  2. Pretty rare one here (great cover, too!)...this stuff is great for us budding lap steel players (even in our 50s)...the Monument stuff is ubiquitous but I've never EVER seen this one at all in 40+ years of collecting...nice snag. Keep it up. See, even Cyril likes it. THAT's the highest complement since I follow HIS Steel Guitar posts like a hyena.

  3. I'm really diggin this guy. Thanks for the post!

  4. Aloha Allen,

    Thanks for the great post. Jerry Byrd was a great master, and very beloved in Hawai‘i, where his deep love for Hawaiian music was greatly appreciated. Some of today's best players, such as Greg Sardinha, Alan Akaka, Bobby Ingano, and Paul Yim, were Jerry's students. It's one of the ironies of music history that a mainland non-Hawaiian like Jerry Byrd was a link between generations of steel players in Hawai‘i.

    But I have to object a little to you saying, "He is also enormously responsible for keeping Hawaiian music popular after the Hawaiian music "boom" of the teens, 20`s and early 30`s started dying out." Nobody told Hawaiians that Hawaiian music wasn't popular any more. People on front porches and in back yards, and in clubs and studios all over the Islands were doing just fine keeping Hawaiian music alive, and popular through the decades and up until today.

    One other thing: Sorry to be picky, but in case somebody wants to find out more about the other musician you mentioned, his name is actually Sol Ho‘opi‘i (sometimes spelled just Hoopii).

    Mahalo ā nui loa!

  5. I`m sure Hawaiian music stayed popular in Hawaii, the homeland of this style far as records released, after 1935-ish Hawaiian music popularity was on the wane. Around World War 2 time there was sort of a come back of Hawaiian records with pop artists such as Bing Crosby singing releasing Hawaiian themed records, although the day of hits of mostly instrumental Hawaiian records were over. Mostly what I`m getting at is instrumental records. It`s too bad, because there was some great Hawaiian music released on small labels on through to the end of the 78 rpm era. And... I`m not meaning by this that there is no good Hawaiian music recorded after the 78rpm era, because there is.
    You surely do have to admit that if not for Jerry Byrd, (at least here on the mainland USA) that Hawaiian steel would more likely have been a part of our musical past instead of it still holding a niche in our hearts now.
    I love Hawaiian steel, whether its played electric on lap or pedal steel, Dobro or other resonator type guitar, and the sweet, mellow sound of the old Martin type Hawaiian guitar and the haunting sound of the Weissenborn type guitar. I encourage everyone to check out Hawaiian steel played on all the different type of steel guitars I mentioned!!

  6. This album has received a lot of attention from me recently! thanks again

  7. Jerry Byrd played Steel on Hank William's classic 'I'm so lonesome I could cry'. Which is where I first heard him.



  8. Thanks for all these! Cool to find someone else into old-timey / bluegrass AND Hawaiian music!

  9. Wow! Thank you so much for this recording! My cousin (who is 60yo) has been looking for this for 25+ years. We appreciate it so much! Lisa

  10. I just found your site by looking up lap steel players. When I was in the Air Force in the late '50's, a young guy by the name of RALPH SHEETS set in with us one night in Wasserkoupe, Germany. My band was playing there and he was stationed there. We needed a steel guitar player and he was too happy to get up and join us. I only saw him that one night and never heard from him again. Just wondering if you had ever heard of him, and, if so, maybe you could tell me how to reach him. I have a recording of that night (scratchy and with many splices) but would like to share it with him. My email is Thanks

  11. Sorry, never heard of him. Good luck.

  12. great album I'm downloading, I'm from Brazil my name is Welton greetings to you all, I'm looking for the music genre Steel Guitar, and another old one.

    (Ótimo album estou Baixando, sou do brasil meu nome é welton saudações a todos vocês, estou buscando por musica do genero Steel Guitar, e outro antigo.)

  13. Oh yeah!

    I'm studying lap steel for a couple of months through Jerry's books
    It's so great to hear the master play.

  14. This album is amazing! Thanks so much for your blog. Great job. I know it takes a lot of hard work and effort. It is very much appreciated! Please keep sharing your love of music with others.

  15. Just came from family reunion where I learned my father, Vernon Walton, and his twin brother, Vaughn (also a steel guitarist), once played with Jerry. And they played with Marty Robbins as well when they lived next door to Marty in Glendale AZ. Was just wondering if they ever recorded or if there is any documentation of them playing together.