Bud Isaacs Biography

26 March 1928, Bedford, Indiana, USA. Isaacs was playing steel guitar professionally at the age of 16 and after playing on some local stations, he relocated to Nashville. He began to play on the Grand Ole Opry in 1951 with Eddie Hill, later joining Little Jimmy Dickens. In 1953, he was responsible for the addition of foot and knee pedals to a steel guitar. By careful footwork, he was able to vary the tension on individual strings and change the pitch of a single string so as to alter individual chords. His idea caused a sensation as it had previously been considered impossible to change anything less than an whole chord at one time. The first recording to feature his new invention was when Isaacs played it on Webb Pierce’s hit recording of ‘Slowly’ in 1954. (Jimmy Day had played steel on earlier versions by Pierce). His idea revolutionized the sound of steel guitars on country recordings and most of the leading exponents of the instrument soon followed his lead. He was much in demand for session work but he also made solo recordings that year for RCA Records, including his lilting ‘The Waltz You Saved For Me’. In 1955, he became a member of the Ozark Jubilee, appearing on radio and television programmes with the star, Red Foley. It has been recorded that Isaacs played on the 11 top country hits of the year in 1955. In 1958, Isaacs, with Chet Atkins, Homer Haynes, Jethro Burns (Homer And Jethro) and Dale Potter, recording as the Country All-Stars, cutString Dustin’, a very up-tempo release. Isaacs married Geri Mapes, a yodeller, singer and bass player and they worked together with an act they called the Golden West Singers. He continued to play on countless recordings and was inducted into the Steel Guitar Hall Of Fame in 1984; they eventually retired to Arizona. Isaacs will always be remembered for his dazzling steel guitar playing, especially his catchy ‘Bud’s Bounce’. His 1955 RCA - Victor Records EP, Crying Steel Guitar, is now a highly prized collectable.

Source: The Encyclopedia of Popular Music by Colin Larkin. Licensed from Muze.

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