and steel guitarist from Jayton, Texas, whose
older brother, Tex, enlisted in the U.S. Air Force and left his amp and
single neck behind for his junior of twelve years to tinker around
with. Before long, young Weldon
was good enough to jam with some friends, and they even made their own
recordings on a contraption known as a rec-o-cut.
At the age of
thirteen, he was wooed by Henley Diggs and the Double Mountain Boys to join
them for live gigs and a weekly radio show which aired in Stanford,
Texas. He expanded his music
capital by learning to play lead and rhythm guitar, and continued to
sharpen his picking skills with fellow musician, Ben Hall.
left Breckenridge for Lubbock, where he worked as a disk jockey. This gave Weldon an opportunity to
visit him in “the big city” and meet artists such as Sonny
Curtis, Johnny Duncan, and Buddy Holly. Buddy Holly would eventually record
one of Weldon’s compositions, “It’s
Not My Fault”. The Grand
Ole Opry traveling players made frequent stops in
Lubbock and Weldon got to sit in sometimes with the band.
In the early
1950s, he decided to test the waters in Nashville, Tennessee, where he
recorded a demo with Lubbock native Hope Griffith. It was enough of a taste to motivate
him and his family to move there in 1963. His first gig was with comedian Pap
Wilson, with whom he played for several months,
all the while looking for opportunities at the Opry.
In the meantime,
Bill Anderson was looking for a steel guitar player and asked Weldon to
join his band. He did some
recording dates with Bill and Connie Smith, whom Bill had discovered. In 1965, Weldon quit Bill’s
band and joined Connie’s.
They went out on the road, but Weldon had been bitten by the
recording bug, and soon returned to Nashville to pursue studio work.
On a routine
visit to the Opry, he was surprised to find that
Hal Rugg was the only steel guitarist left there,
and needed someone else to help carry the load. Ott Devine
hired him on the spot, and Weldon had landed the ultimate steady gig, a tenure at the Opry and Ryman
Auditorium that lasted thirty-two years, from 1966 through 1998.
meantime, there were recordings to be made, and awards to be won. A couple of the albums on which he
appeared in the 1970s include Dan Fogelberg’s
Home Free and Dave Loggins’ Country
Suite. He also won the
NARAS Super Pickers Award six years running, from 1974 through 1979. In 1991, he was inducted into the Texas
Steel Guitar Hall of Fame.
career continued to flourish on CDs such as Everybody’s Reaching out for Someone by The Cox Family,
and Alan Jackson’s Greatest
and groups with whom he has worked include Roy Acuff,
Chet Atkins, Joan Baez, Bobby Bare, Jim Ed Brown, Glen Campbell, Rita
Coolidge, Helen Cornelius, Janie Fricke, Tom T. Hall, Roy Orbison, Dolly
Parton, Elvis Presley, Jerry Reed, Hargus
“Pig” Robbins, Marty Robbins, Johnny Rodriguez, Linda Ronstadt,
Leon Russell, Ricky Skaggs, George Strait, and Pam Tillis.
appeared on more than twenty-four gold records and many of country and
western’s most memorable hits, such as “Funny Face” and
“Happiest Girl in the Whole U.S.A.” by Donna Fargo,
“Harper Valley P.T.A.” by Jeannie C. Riley, and “Right or
Wrong” and “You Look So Good in Love” by George
In 1997, he
was enshrined in the Steel Guitar Hall of Fame at the annual International
Steel Guitar Convention in St. Louis, Missouri.
retirement from the Grand Ole Opry in 1998, he
has remained active at venues such as the Smoky Mountain Jamboree and steel
guitar conventions throughout the U.S.
He also continues to perform live with Opry
artists in Nashville and beyond.
When he’s not performing, chances are you can find him on the
fairway, honing his golf game.
Hargus “Pig” Robbins recordings
Chunky People (Jim Vest/David Chamberlain)