He was born in Luttrell, Tennessee and was a self-taught guitarist. His half-brother Paul was a guitarist with the Les Paul Trio.
He made his first appearance at the Grand Ole Opry in 1946 as a member of Red Foley’s Band and his first recorded single was “Mr. Sandman”.
Alongside being a successful solo artist he produced records for many artists including Jim Reeves and Waylon Jennings, as well as Perry Como’s hit record “And I Love You So”. When he was in charge of RCA’s Nashville Division, he used the Jordanaires on hits like Jim Reeves’ “Four Walls” so he could make the cross over from country to pop. He sparked violence in the South when he signed Charley Pride to be the first African-American country singer.
In the 1970s he was one of the group The Country Hams which was with Sir Paul McCartney and other members of Wings. They released a single of a song that had been written by James McCartney, Sir Paul McCartney’s father.
He received 11 Grammy Awards and 9 Country Music Association Instrumentalist of the Year Awards. He died of cancer on 30th June 2001 at his home in Nashville.
Here is the master of guitar with his portrayal of “Vincent”…