Wow, what a sad day for music lovers. Right on the heels of the news of the passing of Pinetop Perkins, comes the news of the death of Ralph Mooney. Mooney, 82, who died on Sunday from cancer, was a famous steel guitarist considered to be one of the great stylists of the instrument and is considered by many to be the inventor of the "Bakersfield Sound", a louder, more rhythmically propulsive version of country music made most famous by Buck Owens and Merle Haggard.
Mooney's work as a top country session player for Capitol Records in Hollywood in the 1950s and '60s helped revitalize the steel guitar's role in country music at a time when Nashville producers were veering away from the instrument to create a more broad-based, orchestra-laden style that became known as the Nashville sound.
(ralph mooney with wynn stewart)
Mooney, in addition to being a mainstay in Waylon Jennings' band for twenty years, was an in-demand session player and during his long career contributed to hits songs for Wynn Stewart and Wanda Jackson, as well as Merle Haggard's Swinging Doors" and "The Bottle Let Me Down." He also worked on numerous Buck Owens hits, including "Under Your Spell Again", "Above and Beyond", "Foolin' Around", and "Excuse Me (I Think I've Got a Heartache)".
Mooney's distinctive solos can be heard on the Waylon Jennings/Willie Nelson hit, "Mommas Don't Let Your Babies Grow Up To Be Cowboys" and Jennings' classic "Rainy Day Woman". But Mooney's greatest claim to fame may be the fact that he co-wrote, with Chuck Seals, one of the most famous standards in all of country music, Ray Price's monster 1956 hit, "Crazy Arms".