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Interview with Reggie Young - Part 2
By Bronson Herrmuth - 04/20/2008 - 11:29 AM EDT

Reggie Young

2007 By Bronson Herrmuth

Part 2 of 2

Part 3 of 5 (4.6 MB) mp3

B: Do you have any idea how many sessions you've been on?
RY: No, not all, I don't have a clue. I've got a book that I started keeping in 1964 of every session I played. I didn't put the artist down, sometimes I just put "girl singer" (laughing) just to keep up with getting paid. I kept it fairly good but I've got every session I guess. I could go back and count 'em ... but I don't want to take the time too (laughing).

B: (laughing) No I'm not asking you too, it's just the magnitude of it.
Y: But Memphis was an experience, like I said we did a lot of R&B, we did a lot of pop. Like with Neil Diamond with "Sweet Caroline" and "Holly Holy". A guy named Danny Okeefe, "Good Time Charlie", that was out when I moved here, it was playin'. The Boxtops, this group called The Boxtops and "they", whoever "they" are ... Jerry Wexler sent a sitar, an electric sitar down to Memphis and anyway I'd been playing around it. So we did The Boxtops and I played sitar on a song called "Cry Like A Baby" and whoever "they" are, said that's the first pop record that electric sitar was on. After that Joe South had a record called "Games People Play" that he played sitar on. Then I played it on a B.J. Thomas record called "Hooked On A Feeling", it had sitar on that.

B: Great Record.
RY: We did "Son Of A Preacher Man" on Dusty Springfield, she came in for a week. That was a total hoot (laughing).

B: I bet man, some of them sessions ... (laughing).
RY: And this was during 1967 and 1972, during that period.

B: Now what year did you actually move to Nashville?
RY: In 1972

B: You had a lot of friends here already though. Who would you say helped you the most when you made your move to Nashville to get established?
RY: Well probably David Briggs, 'cause I'd worked with Briggs and Norbert Putman. They were with Rick Hall in Muscle Shoals and they were the first wave of outside players to kinda infiltrate Nashville. You know there was the A Team with Grady Martin and so they kind of broke through that clique and then I think we were sorta the second wave. But anyway I knew David and Norbert and they had this studio Quadraphonic. I remember we had packed up and moved the studio to Atlanta in '72 and that lasted maybe 3 months. It was hard to leave but I just had to go on, I said man it's the hardest thing I'm gonna do but I've got to cut ya'll loose. We've all eventually evolved up here, to Nashville. I remember I was driving back and forth from Memphis to Atlanta and I stopped by and Briggs said, David Briggs the keyboard player, "How long you gonna be here?" I said, "I don't know." He said, "Well you want to work?" and I said "Yeah." and I've been here ever since.

B: (laughing)
RY: Quadraphonic was kinda like American studio was in Memphis. It's kind of a funky little place and they cut great records. I think they did Joan Baez ... what was that big hit ... "The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down" and all that stuff. Anyway some of the first things I did after I moved here was Dobie Gray. I wasn't doin' country stuff but I was working all I could do. There's a lot of music going on here other then country that I really didn't know existed here.

B: Do you have a favorite musical genre? You play so many different genres, is there one that would be yours or do you just enjoy playing them all?
RY: I guess I'm more comfortable playing maybe ballads, R&B ballads. Well it'd be like I said, the first stuff we did over there, which was Dobie Gray which was "Driftaway". Those kind of songs or country ballads. I love tones, instrument tones.

B: Well you're one of the best at getting 'em (Reggie laughing) that's for darn sure. There's probably 100,000 guitar players right now that are trying to cop your licks every night makin' their living, ya know? I mean all over the world. You're probably in the top, for sure the top 10 if not the top 5 most recorded guitar players ever.
RY: I don't know, there's been quite a few.

Part 4 of 5 (4.5 MB) mp3

B: What was it like playing with Waylon?
RY: Oh man, I guess that was my favorite time. Well recording with him and then getting to tour with him the last years of his life, from 1999 to when he passed away in 2002. The Waymore Blues Band and that was the coolest band I've ever been in, in my life. And Waylon, Waylon had this bad boy reputation, you know, (laughing) and he was pretty wild back then. I wasn't touring with him then but I played on his records. A lot of old records from I guess back in the 70's up until the last stuff like "Luckenbach, Texas", I got to do that and I played on Jesse Colters, "I'm Not Lisa", so that's how far back that goes. So I worked a lot with Waylon and also with The Highwaymen. I was part of The Highwaymen band. We'd go out in the fall and the winter and I kinda worked that in between sessions (laughing).

B: Do you have a preference to playing live or in the studio?
RY: I used to, I thought the studio was the only world there was 'til I did the first Highwaymen tour. I was kind of uncomfortable 'cause I'd never toured like that before. Man that was a major major tour, you know, with all those 4 guys, Haggard, Johnny Cash, Waylon and Kristoffersen all on the stage at the same time and we're all old friends 'cause we all go way way back you know. And the band was the old Memphis band and part of Willie's band, or Mickey Rafael. Anyway the first tour was like 30 days and whenever we got back I was kind of anxious about leaving my security blanket which was the studio world, you know you can make a lot of money playing sessions, and I caught myself after being home a couple of weeks ... man that was really cool (laughing). There was life outside of the studio world so they did another tour in the fall and I really really loved playing live. I'd never got to do that very often. That started in 1999 and I do a little bit more and more each year.

B: So we were talking before we ever started the interview about touring internationally. You've played a lot of music in a lot of different places. Is their any countries you like going to when you go over there, like this country was more fun than that country kind of thing or was it pretty much universal?
RY: Gosh I have to think about that one. Well with the studio band in Memphis at American, we got asked a few years ago by the Elvis fan club if we'd like to come over to Europe and Scandanavia and tour and play for Elvis things and venues. The venues would probably be a thousand, fifteen hundred, two thousand people, and we thought about it and thought well yeah that might be fun. So we got our band back together and this was just gonna be playing Elvis music and we got a horn section and then Sweet Inspirations, who we had recorded in Memphis. They'd done some of these things with us and we went over. Like the first tour I think was through Scandanavia and it was a total hoot. I mean the crowds were just incredible. They wanted to meet the musicians, it wasn't anything else. They wanted to meet the players that played on these Elvis records, all these Elvis fans and they're from like 3 years old up to 80, 90. I don't understand, I still scratch my head, where did all these people come from? But someone explained that we and people like us that maybe had worked with him, are as close as their ever going to get to him and after we do a concert it's like 2 hours of autograph signing and just talking to people, you know. My wife Jenny and I, whenever we do these tours, we'll usually hang out a week or two, like the tour before last we ended in Copenhagen and we just stayed in Copenhagen for two weeks after everybody left.

B: I bet that was fun.
RY: Yeah and then I've made a lot of friends and stuff but all those fans are pretty much the same no matter where you are.

B: Yeah I love playing internationally, it goes to a whole nother level. People are there to really hear ya, they know all the words, (Reggie laughing and agreeing)they all sing along and they dress the era, I love that.

Part 5 of 5 (5.2 MB) mp3

B: How many actual guitars do you carry right now if you go to do a session if you're doing a master session call?
RY: I have a box, I probably have 6 or 7 guitars. I've actually been blessed by not having too ... I'm not an acoustic player, I mean I play acoustic but man there's so many great acoustic players, why would they want me for acoustic. I kind of play a style so I don't have to copy anybody. I remember when I first moved here, a producer said, he said "Reggie on this next song could you play like Grady Martin's style?" I couldn't figure out why I was even there and I asked him, "You know Grady lives here, why didn't you get Grady on it?" and I was not being facitious about it I was just being very honest. Usually when I'm hired, whatever it is that I do, (laughing) that's what I'm hired for.

B: I produced a demo session a couple of weeks ago and my guitar player was Rex Wiseman and when I played him the thing we were going to do and he said, "You want me to Reggie this man?" (Reggie laughing)You know what I'm sayin'?
RY: (laughing) That's wild, that's funny.

B: So it's all turned around. Now the producers are tellin' 'em, "Hey do it like Reggie Young would do it." (Reggie laughing) And it's true too man.
RY: Well anyway I've been blessed not to have to dance through hoops and try to copy people, and about the guitars. I only play 2 guitars. I've got a '69 Telecaster that I moved here with and a '57 Stratocaster. I've even got the same amp I moved here with, it's an old Fender Deluxe and I've yet to find anything that sounds better than that. I've tried, so I've wound up ... I've got a garage full of guitars, amps, all that stuff, but it's that old shoe thing I guess. (laughing) It's what I moved here with and thats what I'm comfortable playing.

B: If you had to give advise to somebody that was moving to Nashville, is their any advise you'd give them to try to break into the session world? Is their any advise you can give somebody that moved here trying to make it in music?
RY: I really don't know how to answer that. I try to tell people, there's a lot of guitar players called, I usually talk to players and they'll say, "Well should I take a cd or a tape around to producers and just play what I do?" That might help, I don't know that it ever helped anybody doing that, any guitar player. The main thing is word of mouth by other players. Like if I heard somebody play, I might, if I couldn't do a date or something I would recommend, "You oughta try this guy." It would usually be like on demos and you work your way in through the demo world. A lot of times when they play demos, like for the producer, they want to copy the demo. Well sometimes it's hard to copy a demo, they need to get the players that played it originally to get that sound and so bang, here you start and you know you get into the studio world. I think musicians, players, meet as many musicians as you can, play whenever you can whether it's clubs, whatever. The studio world is such a tight knit little group, there's only a few people making all the records you know, at least it was when I was working all the time. There was just a handful of us that cut everything that was done here. Now a lot of the players, some of the road guys are so good that you know, the artist wants their band and I don't blame 'em and we always tried to encourage that too, but to say what can I do when I come to Nashville, I don't know. I would say to meet as many studio players as you could, try to seek them out, call them. I've always been very friendly to other guitar players 'cause you know I know what it's like as a struggling musician.

B: I did a session yesterday, another demo session with Byrd Burton and Byrd said, "Tell Reggie I said hey man and then tell him to get out of town."
RY: (laughing lots) Byrd's a unique player. He's very very unique, I really like him.

B: Yeah he's a great guy. He played on 3 demos for me yesterday and I was proud to have him but he told me, I almost forgot, he said, "Do not see him and not tell him I said that and he'll know who I am." (Reggie laughing) Well I said I'm sure he'll know who you are.
B: Well we really appreciate you doing this man, it was an honor to sit with you and I appreciate you coming in here and doing this and I hope you enjoyed it.
RY: I did, thank you very much.

B: And also David Judy back here running the board and Al Jolson, thank you for the use of your studio and we'll see you next time!

You can visit Reggie Young online at

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