Though there are many great artist-musician relationships in country music history, some stand out a little more others. Don Rich’s enticing Telecaster licks helped to make Buck Owens one of the top recording artists of the 1960s. At the same time period, you would be hard pressed to find a Connie Smith RCA Victor release without the ringing steel guitar licks of Weldon Myrick.
The legendary instrumentalist, who passed away Monday at the age of 76 following a stroke, played on records by such iconic singers as Elvis Presley, Dolly Parton and Willie Nelson. His work was a vital part of classic hits such as Jerry Jeff Walker’s “Mr. Bojangles,” George Strait’s “Let’s Fall To Pieces Together,” and Alan Jackson’s “Chattahoochee.”
Myrick was born in Texas, and was playing the steel before he was ten years old. He moved to Nashville in 1963, and started working with Grand Ole Opry star Bill Anderson. The next year, Bill helped secure a recording contract for Connie Smith with RCA, and many of his band played on her first session for the label – which yielded the chart-topping “Once A Day.” It was the first of many of her hits that his steel work graced.
In a 2012 interview for Billboard, Smith recalled how vital Myrick’s work was in creating her sound. “When we went in the studio, Chet had just hired Bob Ferguson at RCA,” she recalled, adding that Atkins was turning Ferguson loose as a producer.
She notes that it was a suggestion that the new producer made that helped set the studio relationship between Smith and Myrick apart. “He asked Weldon ‘Do you mind if I adjust some of your settings on your amplifier?’ He said ‘Sure, go ahead.’ Bob made it more like the west coast sound for AM Radio. Bob used to make me sing as loud as I could, and the steel was a little more sharper. When he started it off, you knew exactly who it was,” she said.