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Author Topic:  First distortion rock & roll pedal steel?
Tharon Caraway


From:
Lubbock,Texas USA
Post  Posted 29 Apr 2020 7:35 pm    
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Terri Hendrix and Lloyd Maines was on FB live tonight and Lloyd was playing and talking pedal steel. Terri had a good question, who was the first Rock&Roll pedal steeler? Lloyd said he remembered Sneaky Pete. But was there a distortion player before him. Lloyd is a great Bosstone player!
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Pete Finney

 

From:
East Nashville Tn.
Post  Posted 29 Apr 2020 10:15 pm    
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I'd say this is a candidate, for possibly the first consciously fuzzed-out pedal-steel. Pete Drake with Skeeter Davis, recorded in 1962 (released in '63), 2 or 3 years before rock guitar started sounding like this. I've always wondered if Jeff Beck would have heard this early on...

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YPjWfMFP760

It's a Carole King song from her Brill Building days, a song also done by the Beatles around '63.

Jimmy Day on the Everly Brothers "Lucille" was pedal steel on a rock song, but it didn't have the distortion.

Lloyd Green cut several kind of cool things (around 68/69 maybe?) with heavy fuzz-tone, a sound he has since said that he hates.

Sneaky Pete played a prominent part on a Ventures record,"Blue Star" in 1965, but it's a very clean tone. Later in the '60s and into the 70s of course he used distortion and other effects quite a bit on lots of rock records. Along with Rusty Young and others that was pretty common by then.


Last edited by Pete Finney on 30 Apr 2020 1:10 pm; edited 2 times in total
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Tharon Caraway


From:
Lubbock,Texas USA
Post  Posted 29 Apr 2020 11:13 pm    
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Looks like we have a winner! And it does not surprise me it would be Pete Drake that did it! Thanks Pete.
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Erv Niehaus


From:
Litchfield, MN, USA
Post  Posted 30 Apr 2020 8:00 am    
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When Bill Haley and the Comets started out they had a steel guitar but I don't think there was any distortion involved. Very Happy
Erv
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Barry Blackwood


Post  Posted 30 Apr 2020 8:27 am    
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I'm probably wrong, but I always felt that the (fuzz) solo on Marty Robbins "Don't Worry" was the impetus for all the fuzzy stuff that followed. That was 1961.
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Fred Treece


From:
California, USA
Post  Posted 30 Apr 2020 8:55 am    
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Yeah Barry, that rock n roll pioneer Grady Martin!

Maybe it’s just the recording quality on some of those old records, but a couple guitarists in Bob Wills band also were getting some fuzzy tones here and there. Steel players of the 50’s seemed to favor a heavy midrange eq, which sometimes sounded like an overdrive. Noel Boggs got his tone right out there on the ragged edge occasionally.
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Dave Zirbel


From:
Sebastopol, CA USA
Post  Posted 30 Apr 2020 9:21 am    
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I guess Glenn Ross Campbell wasn't the first to record with distorted steel, but probably the first psychedelic rock steel guitarist....maybe...
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Dave Zirbel-
Sierra S-10 (Built by Ross Shafer),ZB, Fender 400 guitars, various tube and SS amps


Last edited by Dave Zirbel on 1 May 2020 5:10 am; edited 1 time in total
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Pete Finney

 

From:
East Nashville Tn.
Post  Posted 30 Apr 2020 9:34 am    
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Barry Blackwood wrote:
I'm probably wrong, but I always felt that the (fuzz) solo on Marty Robbins "Don't Worry" was the impetus for all the fuzzy stuff that followed. That was 1961.


Exactly! That happened accidentally with a defective channel strip on the board at Nashville's Columbia studios, and they kept it on the track. And eventually engineer Glen Snoddy figured out how to reproduce that and sold the first "fuzz tone" (his name) design to Gibson. That's the box Keith Richard used for "Satisfaction" and that defined distortion in R&R for a few short years before the (sometimes) sweeter tone of over-driven Marshall amps became the holy grail.

But the question is about the first use of intentional distortion with pedal steel, and I personally don't know of anybody who was ahead of Pete Drake (with the song from 1962 linked above) in using this sound, just a year or so after the Marty Robbins record. I've been searching for something earlier for a long time, and would be happy to be proven wrong!

Here's a Pete Drake instrumental from that era with "fuzz"; I've never found a recording date but I think it came out around 1964 (maybe)?

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AQlrjJQsvJ8

Slightly distorted electric guitars (and steels) had been around for a long time, as pointed out, but even that is a different beast from the buzz-saw, transistor distortion that I believe the original poster is talking about (which my old pal Lloyd Maines did such incredible things with).

I just came across this "fuzz-tone" marketing video from 1962! It's kind of fun, and proves that Snoddy didn't waste any time marketing this accidental discovery ("Maestro" was a Gibson brand back then).

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VAWwBEx3Qkc&feature=youtu.be
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Tharon Caraway


From:
Lubbock,Texas USA
Post  Posted 30 Apr 2020 4:19 pm     Sneaky Pete 1969
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https://youtu.be/BITiY8M_oDo
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Tharon Caraway


From:
Lubbock,Texas USA
Post  Posted 30 Apr 2020 4:34 pm     Lloyd Maines
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https://youtu.be/fXRoLh6QKcY
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Tharon Caraway


From:
Lubbock,Texas USA
Post  Posted 30 Apr 2020 4:46 pm     Joe Ely w Lloyd Maines 1980
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https://youtu.be/uRes2CjH40w
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Larry Dering

 

From:
Missouri, USA
Post  Posted 30 Apr 2020 4:58 pm    
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Some great history there. Pete is the reason I took up pedal steel. A movie at a walk in theatre and his talk box had me spell bound. It's possible that Pete used the fuzz earlier than others. He seemed to be ahead of the curve for studio work.
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Pete Finney

 

From:
East Nashville Tn.
Post  Posted 30 Apr 2020 8:12 pm     Re: Joe Ely w Lloyd Maines 1980
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Tharon Caraway wrote:
https://youtu.be/uRes2CjH40w


That's a great example of Lloyd Maines back in the day; tearing up the Boss-tone R&R sound (and anticipating Robert Randolph by 25 or 30 years IMHO).

I might suggest people skipping forward to about minute 4:25 in the Ely/Maines video; that's where the steel solo starts, and it's worth it.

I was living/playing in Austin 79-82, and never missed one of these shows, if I wasn't working somewhere. The band always tore it up, and Lloyd's been a pal ever since.
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Franklin

 

Post  Posted 1 May 2020 8:04 pm    
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Not sure what year...Maybe 62....Guessing....It was Pete's adventurous side that got the attention of so many rock legends..As a producer he had Curly use the leslie on Wolverton Mountain which I believe is the first steel and leslie combo. Pete was always driving the train into the future.

Anyways Pete penned this song and it was covered by Dave Brubeck

What other steeler can lay claim to a major Jazz artist cutting his song?

The intro is steel and fuzz. The melody is cleaner sounding.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=godnXkSXFwk
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Franklin

 

Post  Posted 1 May 2020 8:11 pm    
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Not sure what year...Maybe 62....Guessing....It was Pete's adventurous side that got the attention of so many rock legends..As a producer he had Curly use the leslie on Wolverton Mountain which I believe is the first steel and leslie combo. Pete was always driving the train into the future.

Anyways Pete penned this song and it was covered by Dave Brubeck

What other steeler can lay claim to a major Jazz artist cutting his song?

The intro is steel and fuzz. The melody is cleaner sounding.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=godnXkSXFwk

This track is all C6th and listen to Pete's use of the Boo Wah or #9 pedal @2:36
Pete was very creative and not afraid to take a risk.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gu2nxXQ3LpQ
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Mitch Drumm

 

From:
Frostbite Falls, hard by Veronica Lake
Post  Posted 1 May 2020 8:18 pm    
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Franklin wrote:


What other steeler can lay claim to a major Jazz artist cutting his song?



Leon McAuliffe?

Gene Krupa from 1951, with Bobby Soots vocal:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tz8cliYeTa0

If only it had steel.
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Pete Finney

 

From:
East Nashville Tn.
Post  Posted 2 May 2020 6:11 am    
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Thanks, Paul. Always good to get the inside scoop from somebody who spent a lot of time with Pete and really knows this stuff.

So, I dug a little bit on the Pete Drake instrumentals and both "The Spook," (from Paul's post) and "The Oriental Twist" (that I posted above) were apparently recorded in November 1961 and released in 1962.

Which, for what's in worth in terms of the posters' original question, makes them earlier than the Skeeter Davis track (and not very long after the original "accidental" fuzz by Grady Martin on the Marty Robbins record). So Pete sure didn't waste any time taking advantage of this "new" sound!

Pete recut "The Spook" for Mercury in 1964 after he had the big hit with "Forever" and the talk-box.


Mitch; cool big-band take on "Panhandle Rag!"
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Tharon Caraway


From:
Lubbock,Texas USA
Post  Posted 2 May 2020 4:29 pm    
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Thanks for posting Paul! Think I have read you have used a rat pedal when you have played distortion steel. Is that correct?
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Franklin

 

Post  Posted 3 May 2020 3:01 pm    
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Thanks Mitch,

I did not know that bit of history. 3 years before I was born...I should have prefaced it better.

Paul
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Donny Hinson

 

From:
Glen Burnie, Md. U.S.A.
Post  Posted 4 May 2020 7:13 am    
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Barry Blackwood wrote:
I'm probably wrong, but I always felt that the (fuzz) solo on Marty Robbins "Don't Worry" was the impetus for all the fuzzy stuff that followed. That was 1961.


(For Barry, and anyone else that may be interested)

Personally, I think that although there was some distorted guitar in early 1950's rock 'n roll music, Johnny Burnette was the one who really started the whole trend of distorted/fuzz guitars. His hit Train Kept a Rollin' featured a guitar going into serious tube-overdrive distortion way back in May of 1956. These earliest records were cut in New York, but he did a follow-up session in Owen Bradley's studio only two months later, and no doubt Owen heard his previous recordings, and paid special attention to the distortion on the lead guitar.

(Note particularly the solo @ 1:00)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ufzRV3xspYA
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Dave Mudgett


From:
Central Pennsylvania
Post  Posted 4 May 2020 8:21 am    
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I realize the OP is about distorted pedal steel, and I don't know of any earlier examples than stated here, early 60s.

But as far as intentionally distorted guitar goes - it started far, far earlier. This example of Junior Barnard with Bob Wills is from 1946 (Tiffany Transcriptions) - http://www.adioslounge.com/get-it-low-the-dirty-guitar-of-junior-barnard/. And note that Roy Hunnicutt's steel guitar is pretty low-down and distorted too. Seriously - if you were gonna play loud through an early tube amp, it was sort of natural to do this, as the rock and roll guys discovered later.

And the blues and jump-blues guys were also way into this back to the mid-late 40s and early 50s - the examples are almost too numerous to mention. Arthur Crudup, Lightnin' Hopkins, Ike Turner with Jackie Brenston, Eddie "Guitar Slim" Jones, Pat Hare (who played with Muddy Waters and James Cotton, as well as release his own stuff), and many others, up to Chuck Berry, Paul Burlison with Johnny Burnette, Link Wray, and so on. They did all kinds of things to get the distortion more intense, like pull a preamp tube partly out or slice up a speaker cone. No doubt Jeff Beck got his distorted guitar in Train Kept a Rollin' from Burlison.
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Donny Hinson

 

From:
Glen Burnie, Md. U.S.A.
Post  Posted 4 May 2020 12:59 pm    
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I had heard most of that stuff that Dave mentioned back in the '50s (one advantage of being around back then). There were a lot of rhythm and blues guys that had some distortion, but none sounded as much like real fuzz (to me) as the Johnny Burnette Trio hit. It was also a big pop hit, and heard more widely than the R&B stuff. I'm fairly sure that their hit featured "finger and thumb" work on the 1st and 6th strings to get more (harmonic) distortion.

I first started out playing lead guitar, and the Ventures hit "The 2000 Pound Bee" in 1962 drove me to build a one-tube preamp to overdrive my amplifier and get the same excessive distorted sound. Needless to say, there weren't many units back then expressly made for making distortion. Oh Well
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Mitch Drumm

 

From:
Frostbite Falls, hard by Veronica Lake
Post  Posted 4 May 2020 4:44 pm    
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https://blog.wfmu.org/freeform/2007/11/country-fuzz-sp.html

Above link to "Country Fuzz Spectacular"--about 30 fuzz guitar recordings, mostly from the 1960s and mostly using the device Glen Snoddy developed for Gibson in the wake of "Don't Worry"..........Darrell McCall, Ferlin Husky, Claude Gray, etc.

There remains a lot of discussion on who played guitar on which of Burnette Trio Coral recordings--Burlison or Grady Martin.

Deke Dickerson seems to have concluded that Burlison is only on the earliest 5 recordings done in New York City in May of 1956--probably on a Fender Esquire.

As far as I can tell, Bob Moore supports that contention........he says he and Grady were on all the later Trio recordings (beginning in July 1956), including "The Train Kept A-Rollin"---with Grady apparently on his double neck Bigsby.

Burlison has contended otherwise in various interviews.

You can find a lot of discussion via Google with the right search terms.

https://tinyurl.com/y82mzhk9
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Rick Schmidt


From:
Prescott AZ, USA
Post  Posted 11 May 2020 7:53 pm    
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This was so long ago that I’m definitely challenged in remembering all the facts, but probably around 65 I used to see Rusty Young playing with his pre-Poco band the “Boenzee Cryque” at teen rock clubs around Denver. I was more into girls than paying attention to who was playing what in the bands back then, but I remember Rusty was playing a lot of the guitar parts on his sit down thing... like “Satisfaction” for instance.
I suspect that he must’ve had a Maestro Fuzz Tone like the lead player in my band had. I was a bass player back then.
I’d love to ask him someday if the concert I went to where the Boenzee Cryque opened up for the Buffalo Springfield and the Byrds was where he was first discovered?
It’s funny, but I came to play steel myself from a totally different angle... even though I grew up a mile from where Rusty went to high school.
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Mike Bacciarini


From:
San Luis Obispo, California
Post  Posted 14 Feb 2021 8:04 am    
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Hi Rick,

It seems when Rusty was in BC, he gave some psg lessons to Miles Thomas. In ‘68 while Jimmy and Richie were finishing up Last Time Around they wanted some psg for Kind Woman, Miles, a roadie for the Springfield, recommended Rusty. He flew out to LA, killed the steel part, and Poco was born.

But I sure wish I saw that concert in Denver with you. Wow!
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MCI Arlington S-10 3+5, George L E-66, BJS & Emmons bars, Fender Princeton 65W, Fender Rumble 200, custom FX rack, 1983 Dobro 60D, SX-8 lap steel, Martin D16GT, Ibanez AS73, 1978 Rickenbacker 4000 custom.
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