He is a pianist and producer who was born in Greensboro, North Carolina. He was the son of an evangelist and sang and toured with the family group, The Browns.
He started to play the piano when he was 13 years old, learning to play by ear and after seeing several gospel ensembles decided he wanted to belong to one. Although only having been exposed to religious music he was determined to pursue a musical career and when he was fifteen he moved to Louisiana and played in the family group of Linda Robinson, who was his new piano teacher.
Moving back to his home in Durham, North Carolina, where he had attended high school, and performed as a member of the Dixie Melody Boys. Once he had graduated he launched into his professional career in music and joined the Traveler’s Quartet in Florida before moving onto the Klaudt Indian Family for a very brief time.
1965 saw him successfully auditioning for J.D. Sumner’s group, The Stamps, and in 1967 he went to live in Nashville. He met Elvis Presley in 1969 in Las Vegas and played piano for him for his last two years of touring and recording from 1975. Prior to this initial meeting he was with the Stamps Quartet with JD Sumner, appeared with the Blackwood Brothers and The Oak Ridge Boys and later was a member of the gospel band Voice that had been created by Elvis Presley . Eventually becoming part of Elvis’s band, Sweet Inspirations, with co-musicians such as David Briggs, James Burton, Jerry Scheff and Ronnie Tutt, he played on “Bringing It Back” for Elvis’ Today album and went on to perform on his Moody Blue as well at many of his concerts. After Elvis’ death he was a member of Emmylou Harris’s Hot Band from 1977 to 1978 and performed in her Quarter Moon in Ten Cent Town tour, followed by him working as a Nashville session musician.
After managing Free Flight Records for a year or so from 1978 to 1979 he returned to working for RCA and then became a member of the Cherry Bombs who were the band of Rodney Crowell and Roseanne Cash. Wanting to move on, he ventured into the production side of things, eventually becoming the President of MCA Records in Nashville, and he has produced, worked with and/or performed on albums for artists such as The Bellamy Brothers, Larry Carlton, Roseanne Cash, Hank DeVito , Vince Gill, Emory Gordy Jr., Nanci Griffith, Glen Hardin, George Jones, Tim Krekel, Wynonna Judd, Nicolette Larson , Lyle Lovett, The Mavericks, Mac McAnally, Edgar Meyer, Reba McEntire, Willie Nelson, Buck Owens, George Strait , Tammy Wynette and Trisha Yearwood as just a small selection of many.
The albums he has worked on in one capacity or another are countless, but a few of them include License to Chill by Jimmy Buffett , Better Days by Guy Clark, Evangeline by Emmylou Harris, Greatest Hits Vol. 3 by Billy Joel, 20th Century Masters: The Christmas Collection by Michael McDonald, Back With a Heart by Olivia Newton John and the soundtracks of Always, Black Dog, Cry-Baby, 8 Seconds, The Firm, Honeymoon in Vegas, The Horse Whisperer, Indecent Proposal and Leap of Faith.
The winner of many awards, he has been named “Country Producer of the Year” six times by Billboard, twice by Music Row magazine, and been in receipt of the Pioneer Award for “distinguished achievement in the recording industry”, 5 Grammy Awards, 2 ACM Awards and an American Music Award.
Here he is on keyboards with the Oak Ridge Boys on “He’s Gonna Smile On Me”…..