Friday, February 1, 2019

Country Music Hall of Famer Harold Bradley Passes Away at Age 93

K.F. Raizor, author of the website Raizor's Edge and the book We Can't Sing and We Ain't Funny: The World of Homer and Jethro is our guest writer today on That Nashville Sound. She's ever so gracious to provide wonderful tributes to honor those to whom the music we treasure just wouldn't be the same without. Thank you, K.F.

The Country Music Hall of Fame has suffered its second loss in January with the death of Harold Bradley.

The legendary A Team session guitarist, who played on thousands of sessions, died Thursday morning (1/31) in his sleep, according to his daughter's post on Facebook.

Harold Ray Bradley was, is, and ever shall be a "musician's musician." Born in Nashville, he served in the Navy in World War II before majoring in music at Peabody College. His first instrument was banjo, but brother and fellow Hall of Fame inductee Owen (they are the only brothers in the Hall of Fame not inducted as a performing act) convinced him to switch to guitar.

The music world was better for it. Bradley's guitar work ranged from simple, subtle rhythm on songs like Roy Orbison's classic hit "Running Scared" to the driving rhythm of Don Gibson's "Sea of Heartbreak." Whether it was country, pop (he did sessions with the likes of Paul Anka, Perry Como, and Ann-Margaret), rock (Elvis, Orbison, Leon Russell), or R&B (Brook Benton, Ivory Joe Hunter), Harold Bradley's work was exactly what a song needed, and nothing more.

In addition to his work as a session man, Harold and Owen were producers (although Owen was the far more successful of the two in that regard) and businessmen. In 1954 the two opened the Bradley Film and Recording Studio. That became internationally known as "The Quonset Hut," and it changed both country music (with the "Nashville Sound") and the area where it was located (16th Avenue), transforming it into "Music Row."

Owen Bradley, who died in January 1998, was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame in 1974. Harold's induction came in 2006 in recognition for his long, illustrious career as one of country music's most consistent session men.

Harold Bradley was a longtime friend of the International Country Music Conference. I was honored to meet him on a number of occasions when he served as a panelist for Studio B keynote sessions that focused on the great history of country music that happened in that studio, and in Nashville in general. One of my most treasured memories was when he sat on the piano bench, cradling his guitar, and moderator and Country Music Foundation librarian John Rumble played "Running Scared," the great Roy Orbison song that Bradley had provided the guitar work for in 1960. In the studio, as the recorded version began to play, Bradley strummed along with the work he had created 50 years earlier.

Farewell to the great Harold Bradley, who was 93.

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