Country Music People March 2019 - Page 62

Harold BRADLEY 1926-2019 by Walt Trott T he Jan. 31 death of Country Music Hall of Famer Harold Bradley, 93, stunned many of us here in Music City, as we weren’t aware the legendary guitarist was suffering ill health. But then time flies, and it had been a few seasons since we last met, and the man looked terrific. Throughout Harold’s lengthy tenure as American Federation of Musicians (AFM) Nashville Local 257 president (1991-2008), we worked closely on The Nashville Musician newspaper, having been appointed as his editor. Attesting to his high energy level, he also served some 10 years as AFM International’s vice president, headquartered in New York City. Bradley boasts an impressive resume, for in that period during which he carried the banner on behalf of some 3,500 fellow players, Harold was also hailed as the most recorded guitarist globally. As Dean of Guitarists, Bradley was a Nashville trailblazer in every sense of the word, one whose impact spanned generations. He first joined the musicians union at age 16. Since his first session in Chicago for Pee Wee King and his Golden West Cowboys on Dec. 17, 1946, Harold played for a variety of artists’ classic hits, notably Red Foley’s Chattanoogie Shoe Shine Boy, Ray Anthony’s Do the Hokey Pokey, Brenda Lee’s I’m Sorry, Roy Orbison’s Only The Lonely, Patsy Cline’s Crazy, Jimmy Dean’s Big Bad John, Jeannie C. Riley’s Harper Valley PTA, Eddy Arnold’s Make the World Go Away, Tammy Wynette’s Stand By Your Man, The Everly Brothers’ Ebony Eyes, Loretta Lynn’s Coal Miner’s Daughter, John Anderson’s Swingin’, and Alan Jackson’s Here In the Real World. Those twin guitars ringing out on Bobby Helm’s 1957 classic Jingle 62 cmp - MARCH 2019 Bell Rock are played by Harold and Hank Garland. That’s Harold playing banjo in the kick-off of Johnny Horton’s #1 song of 1959 Battle of New Orleans, as well as that pounding bass-guitar on Orbison’s pop #1 Oh Pretty Woman (1964). Harold was a charter member of the versatile A Team of Nashville session superpickers - immortalized so-to-speak in the 1966 (Lovin’ Spoonful’s) John Sebastian song Nashville Cats - including Garland, Grady Martin, Floyd Cramer, Bob Moore, Ernie Newton, Buddy Harman, Ray Edenton, Pig Robbins, Boots Randolph, Charlie McCoy and Tommy Jackson. Of course, Chet Atkins and Owen Bradley were the Godfathers who kept them all busy. “When I was 10 years old, the Bradleys welcomed me into their family,” recalls Brenda Lee, produced by Owen. “When I married my husband Ronnie (Shacklett), they welcomed him like a son. ‘Lost’ would be a good word to describe how I’m feeling right now, but I’m not lost because I’ll always have my memories. Harold Bradley is a big part of all of my memories. Harold is a big part of who I am today. He molded me from a little girl into one of his girls, along with Tammy, Patsy and Loretta. I’ll miss him dearly.” Harold Ray Bradley was born Jan. 2, 1926 in Nashville, son of Letha Maie (Owen) and Vernie Fustus Bradley, a tobacco salesman. “If Dad smoked or drank, I never saw him do it,” Harold said, adding, “My dad played a little guitar and wrote story-songs, but not professionally. He was also a song leader at church.” Harold attended local schools, graduating from Isaac Litton High School, where he also played baseball and reportedly was good enough to attract attention of a Chicago Cubs talent scout. But an arm injury