Monday, June 02, 2014

"The Only Time I Wish You Weren't Gone"

CATEGORY:  Obituary

The great Weldon Myrick has died.

Myrick passed away today (6/2) at approximately 3 PM Nashville time, two days after suffering a stroke.

Weldon Myrick was born in Jayton, Texas in 1938.  He took up the steel guitar before he turned ten because his older brother, who had been playing steel, left the instrument at home when he enlisted in the Air Force.  By the time he had graduated from high school Myrick had made a trip to Nashville (with another young Texan, Waylon Jennings) and was making a name for himself in the Texas music scene, playing on local music television programs.  He also wrote songs, including "It's Not My Fault," recorded by a friend, Buddy Holly.

In the early 60's Myrick, who was by that time a policeman in Big Spring, Texas, took his steel and went to Nashville to find work as a musician.  He became one of two staff steel guitarists on the Grand Ole Opry (the other was Hal Rugg) and joined Bill Anderson's Po' Boys band.  

The work with Anderson led to one of the legendary sounds Myrick contributed to the great genre of music known as country.  Anderson had discovered Connie Smith on a tour in Ohio and managed to get her signed.  He wrote her first hit, "Once a Day," and Myrick put that signature opening steel riff on it.  His tenure in the Po' Boys Band also got Anderson a line in a song:  as Anderson told me in a 1991 interview, when he was writing the song "At the Time" (a hit for Jean Shepard), he needed a town to contrast with Paris.  Myrick suggested his old home town of Big Spring, and thus was born the line, "If you've never been to Paris, France, Big Spring, Texas will suit you fine, and that's the way it was when I loved him at the time."

Throughout the years Myrick played on countless sessions and backed legends and newcomers as the steel guitarist in the Grand Ole Opry staff band.  He eventually retired from the Opry in 1998, one year after he was inducted into the Steel Guitar Hall of Fame.

Connie Smith sings "Once a Day," backed by Weldon Myrick, 
on The Marty Stuart Show

Weldon Myrick had a marvelous style that perfectly augmented the joy or the heartache of the lyrics of the song he played on.  He was truly one of a kind.  Above all of that, he was a very gracious, kind, and humble gentleman.

Bill Anderson's song that made Connie Smith a star sums up how all country fans must feel tonight on the passing of this true legend of the steel guitar:

The only time I wish you weren't gone
Is once a day, every day, all day long

The exceptionally talented Weldon Myrick was 76.

No comments: