producer and songwriter from Birmingham, Alabama, who began his recording
career in the mid-1950s on Decca with fellow composer, Baker Knight. He spent a lot of time on the road
in the late 1950s, touring with The Four Flickers, which also featured his
1960, he arrived on the musical map as a songwriter when Jerry Woodard
recorded “Long, Tall Texan”, supposedly written about Tex
Ritter. It has since been covered
by The Beach Boys, The Connoisseurs, Pee Wee Crayton,
John Denver, The Englishmen, Greg & Steve, Murray Kellum,
The Kingsmen, Long Tall Texans, Lyle Lovett, Bob Luman, and Conway Twitty.
sitting in with Hank Garland’s band, he was asked by the leader
whether he could move to Nashville, Tennessee. On 4th December 1960, his
pregnant wife’s birthday, he and his family relocated to Music
first gig was with Hank Garland at a supper club run by Jimmy Hyde which
was located in the section of town known as Printer’s Alley. On Sunday evenings, they had a
special guest, Chet Atkins.
Chet asked Henry to sit in with him during his weekly engagements. Henry was playing seven nights a
week, four in a duo with Bill Purcell, two with Hank Garland’s band,
and one with Chet. He credits
Chet and Hank for helping him get started and sustaining his music
early ‘60s, Chet started to get him session work, and it was only the
beginning of one of the most prolific careers in the history of musical
recordation. One of his first
recording dates would have been on 7th January 1962, when he
laid down three sides for Twelve
Sides of John D. Loudermilk.
August 1964, he recorded one of his most famous tracks, playing bass on Roy
Orbison’s “Oh Pretty Woman”. He was also busy as a member of
Elvis Presley’s band, appearing on Elvis for Everyone! and the
soundtracks of Harum Scarum
and Spinout in 1965 and 1966,
respectively. In 1966, he and a
number of other Nashville A-listers collaborated
with Bob Dylan on his legendary double album, Blonde on Blonde.
This was followed by another date with Elvis, on How Great Thou Art, in 1967. He ended the decade with The Open Mind of John D. Loudermilk.
Armstrong ended his studio career in curious fashion, recording Louis “Country Western”
Armstrong in 1970. The same
year found Henry among the credits of One
Day at a Time by Joan Baez.
January 1971, he and Lloyd Green spent some time in prison—recording,
that is. The name of the
self-titled album, recorded in California’s Vacaville State Prison,
was Glen Sherley. Glen was not only the main performer
on the album, but also was an inmate in the prison. He had penned one of Johnny
Cash’s songs, “Greystone
1972, he contributed his bass lines to another of Chet’s favourite studio musicians, Jerry Reed, on Hot a’ Mighty. Speaking of Chet, Henry performed on
the guitar virtuoso’s Superpickers in 1973, and was a member of the band that
derived their name from it. In
1975, he appeared on no less than four albums, including John R. Cash, Perry Como’s Just out of Reach, Lloyd
Green’s Steel Rides, and
Ronnie Milsap’s Night Things. He
formed his own label in 1976 called October Records, which specialized in
instrumental albums, and Lloyd Green was one of his first signings.
1977, he performed on Chapter One
with Mundo Earwood, Chester & Lester with Chet
Atkins and Les Paul, Dillard-Hartford-Dillman with Doug Dillard, Rodney Dillard and John
Hartford, The First Time with
Billy “Crash” Craddock and Loose
Change with Larry Jon Wilson.
He rounded out the decade with Reba McEntire
on Out of a Dream and The Oak
Ridge Boys on Room Service.
1980, he played bass and sang backing vocals on American Son by Levon Helm, assisted
John Anderson on his self-titled debut, and briefly joined Johnny
Cash’s band. He rejoined
Johnny on 1982’s The Survivors
Live, which also featured Jerry Lee Lewis and Carl Perkins. In 1984, he collaborated with Ray
Charles on his album of duets, Friendship,
and David Allan Coe on the less amicable Just Divorced.
a brief foray into filmdom in 1985, playing bass and writing original music
for the movie, Malibu Express. In 1986, he joined a number of
well-known artists on the Hank Williams, Jr. album, Montana Café.
He was nominated for an Academy of Country Music Award in the
category of Best Bass in 1987.
The ‘80s were rung out with k.d. lang’s Shadowland, The O’Haras’
Tired of the Runnin’,
and Gene Watson’s Honky Tonk Crazy.
1992, he performed Live at Austin
City Limits with The Nashville Superpickers. He also makes an onscreen appearance
on the 1998 DVD, Superpickers. Most of his recent credits have been
limited to CD re-masterings and re-packagings such as Arthur Fiedler & The Boston
Pops’ Fiedler and Friends,
Elvis Presley’s From Nashville
to Memphis: The Essential
‘60s Masters, and The Soundalike Kings Present Covers, Hits & Misses from
the Vaults of the Legendary Spar Recordings. (While at Spar, Henry was a member
of The Now Generation, a sound-alike group comprised of studio musicians
and featuring a young Jimmy Buffett.)
2010, Henry was still recovering from the Tennessee flood at his home in
Old Hickory, where many of his belongings were among the casualties uncovered
by flood insurance. He is
semi-retired, although he still runs his own publishing house, Copper Music
Company, and enjoys a pastime introduced to him and Jerry Reed by Chet
Atkins and Archie Campbell:
Randy Barlow recordings
Man (Ken Bell/Terry
Hargus “Pig” Robbins recordings
Chunky People (David Chamberlain/Jim Vest)