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    Matthews, Neal Jr. (26 October 1929 – 21 April 2000)

    Guitarist and vocalist who had the good fortune to be born in Nashville, Tennessee, and made the most of it.  He grew up in and around The Grand Ole Opry, where his dad sang with the Crook Brothers.  Neal made his debut on the Opry Stage at the age of thirteen, playing the mandolin with the aforementioned band.  Uncle Sam called him to duty as a young man and he enlisted in the army and served in the Korean War.  He came back to the States a decorated hero and returned to the Grand Ole Opry, where he played guitar with Wally Fowler’s Oak Quartet. 


    Neal was integral to the movement to attract the America Federation of Musicians to Nashville, Tennessee.  It is a footnote that is overshadowed by the fact that he was also one of The Jordanaires.  In 1953, personnel changes abounded in the ranks of the gospel group, and Gordon Stoker recruited Neal to be their lead singer and second tenor, a position he would occupy for decades.  They backed up Elvis Presley on some of his early hits, like “Don’t Be Cruel” and “Hound Dog”, and appeared with him in films such as King Creole, G.I. Blues, and Kid Galahad. 


    This did not keep them from recording with other artists:  They appeared with Patsy Cline on her 12 Greatest Hits, and could be found backing the likes of Jimmy Dean, Tennessee Ernie Ford, Don Gibson, Merle Haggard, Ferlin Husky, Stonewall Jackson, Waylon Jennings, George Jones, Ricky Nelson, Webb Pierce, Jim Reeves, Marty Robbins, and Kitty Wells. 


    From the late 1970s through the present day they have expended much of their time and talent honouring Elvis Presley, who died in 1977.  They recorded a pair of tribute albums, The Jordanaires Sing Elvis’ Favorite Spirituals and The Jordanaires Sing Elvis’ Gospel Favorites, and even appeared on the German tribute, Will Tura Zingt Elvis Presley.  In 1985, Neal penned Elvis:  A Golden Tribute. 


    It would not be the last of his writings, or even his most famous.  He is best remembered among arrangers as the fellow who developed The Nashville Numbering System, which takes numbers and assigns them to chords to facilitate the sight-reading process in the studio.  In June 1988, The Nashville Number System:  An Aid to Playing by Ear, was made available to the masses.  


    In the ‘80s and ‘90s, much of The Jordanaires’ catalogue became available on CDs such as Patsy Cline’s 12 Greatest Hits and Showcase—with The Jordanaires, Hank Snow’s The Singing Ranger, Vol. 3, and America’s Song Butchers:  The Weird World of Homer & Jethro. 


    On 21st April 2000, Neal died of a coronary at his home in Brentwood, Tennessee.  He was buried in Woodlawn Memorial Park in Nashville.  A year later, he was enshrined in the Country Music Hall of Fame, along with his fellow Jordanaires.



    1. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Neal_Matthews,_Jr.
    2. http://books.google.com
    3. http://www.elvis-presley-forever.com/elvis-presley-biography-king-creole-movie.html
    4. http://www.cduniverse.com/search/xx/music/pid/1824386/a/Rca+Country+Legends.htm
    5. http://listing-index.ebay.com/movies/G.I._Blues.html
    6. http://listing-index.ebay.com/movies/Kid_Galahad.html
    7. http://countrydiscography.blogspot.com/2009/06/stonewall-jackson.html
    8. http://www.discogs.com/Will-Tura-Jordanaires-Will-Tura-Zingt-Elvis-Presley/release/1348269
    9. http://cgi.ebay.ph/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewItem&item=360157865440
    10. http://musicmoz.org/Bands_and_Artists/P/Pierce,_Webb/Discography/Wondering_Boy,_The_%5B1951-1958%5D/
    11. http://www.bizrate.com/countrymusic/showcase-with-the-jordanaires-by-patsy-cline-(cd-10%2F25%2F1990)--pid1186450/
    12. http://shopping.yahoo.com/p:Neal%20Matthews,%20Jr.:1927232001:page=discography:b=3
    13. http://cgi.ebay.com
    14. http://www.emusic.com/album/Various-Gospel-Super-Hits-Amazing-Grace-MP3-Download/11501032.html
    15. http://www.livedaily.com/news/1072.html
    16. http://www.flipkart.com/nashville-numbering-system-neal-mathews/0881883352-f9w3fkhneb
    17. http://uk.imdb.com/name/nm1412259/
    18. http://www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=gr&GRid=7990191
    19. http://articles.latimes.com/2000/apr/24/local/me-22923











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