born on 9/3/1920 in Lima, OH, United States
died on 11/4/2005 in Honolulu, HI, United States
Gerald Lester "Jerry" Byrd (March 9, 1920 April 11, 2005) was an American musician who played Lap steel guitar in country and Hawaiian music.
Byrd was born on March 9, 1920 in Lima, Ohio. His interest in the instrument began after a "tent show" when he was 12 and by 15 he was playing in bars. Although his initial interest was Hawaiian music much of his work was country. In 1944/1945 he joined the Grand Ole Opry. He was important to the early career of Dolly Parton being one of the first to sign her. He also was an educator of the steel guitar giving lessons to Jimmie Vaughan and Jerry Garcia among others. The list of artists that Byrd played or recorded with included Hank Williams, Ernest Tubb, Patsy Cline and Red Foley and countless others. With Hank Williams he played songs like I'm So Lonesome I Could Cry, Lovesick Blues and Mansion on the Hill. In the early 1970s he moved to Hawaii and worked on reviving Hawaiian steel guitar music, taking a great delight in giving lap steel lessons to the young musicians who showed interest in insuring that the lap steel remained an important instrument in Hawaiian music. While living in Hawaii, Byrd had a regular weekly gig with his trio at the Royal Hawiian Hotel that lasted until his death. Though Byrd often joked about pedal steel guitar players, he had nothing but the highest of praise for Buddy Emmons, saying he had taken the steel guitar to new places with his playing.
Byrd died of Parkinson's disease at 85 in Honolulu, Hawaii.
Awards and recognition
He was inducted into the Steel Guitar Hall of Fame in 1978 as # 1.
- Nani Hawaii (1953) Mercury
- Byrd's Exhibition (1954) Mercury
- Guitar Magic (1954) Mercury
- Hi-Fi Guitar (1958) Decca
- On the Shores of Waikiki (1960) Decca
- Byrd of Paradise (1961) Monument
- Memories of Maria (1962) Monument
- Satin Strings of Steel Monument
- Blue Hawaiian Steel Guitar (1963) Mercury
- Man of Steel (1964) Mercury
- Potpourri (1966) Monument
- Country Steel Guitar Greats (1966) Wing
- Steel Guitar Hawaiian Style (1976) Lehua
- Polynesian Suite (1995) Sony Music Distribution
- Christmas in Hawaii (2003) Lehua
- Jerry Byrd: By Request (2002) Mountain Apple
- Steel Guitar (2002) Mountain Apple
- The Master of Touch and Tone (2005) Mountain Apple
- Master of the Steel Guitar, Vol. 1 (2005) Hana OlaRsi
With Jack McDuff
- Gin and Orange (Cadet, 1969)
With Don Patterson
- Satisfaction! (Prestige, 1965)
- Byrd, Jerry (2003). It Was a Trip, On Wings of Music, Centerstream Publications.
- [Jerry Byrd at All Music Guide All Music]