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Jimmy Bryant
Born:  March 5, 1925
Died:  September 22, 1980
Atlanta Country Music Hall of Fame (1996)
Hometown Jamboree

About The Artist

Jimmy Bryant grew up on the road, playing fiddle or guitar behind his fiddle-playing father. In 1941, he joined the army and was wounded on active service. Finding little work for a fiddle player, he began paying more attention to the guitar, playing country but becoming more interested in the fast jazz styles of Tony Mottola, a fellow soldier. When discharged, he used his release pay to buy a Stella guitar and an amplifier and began to play with a small group in Moultrie Georgia.

In 1946, he moved to Los Angeles, where he found radio work, soon becoming the lead guitarist with Cliffie Stone's band on the Hometown Jamboree. He was also soon in great demand as a session guitarist.

During the time he spent with Capitol Records, he recorded with country artists such as Roy Rogers, Tennessee Ernie Ford and Tex Williams, and many non-country stars including Bing Crosby, Kay Starr and Stan Kenton, and in later years, he even recorded with the Monkees. Bryant once estimated that between 1955 and 1956, he recorded with 124 different artists.

Steel guitarist Speedy West, who had previously played western swing with Spade Cooley and Hank Penny was also a member of Stone's band. West was a dazzling and versatile musician whose playing was the perfect match for Bryant's extraordinary, rapid guitar work, prompting Stone to dub them "the Flaming Guitars".

They became firm friends and their musical improvisations of western swing and jazz/country left other musicians dumbfounded in admiration. They subsequently appeared together on many recordings, and in 1954, they recorded an album together that has become rated as a classic.

In 1967, Bryant recorded a guitar tutor album, complete with instruction book, although it is doubtful that any purchaser came even remotely near the tutor's brilliance.

In 1973 he recorded with the legendary steel guitarist Noel Boggs. He moved to Nashville in the mid-70s, working for Hohner Guitars, and in 1976 he was reunited with West and released an album titled "For the Last Time ".

In 1979 Bryant, a heavy smoker, was found to have lung cancer and he returned to Los Angeles, even playing at a benefit concert organized for him. Soon afterwards, his health worsening, he moved back to Moultrie, where he died in September 1980.

Legendary jazz guitarist Barney Kessel once said, "of all the guitar players I have known, Jimmy Bryant is the fastest and the cleanest, and has more technique than any other".

Bryant, who was an inspiration for England's guitar great Albert Lee, owned the first Fender Broadcaster guitar, which carried his name and the serial number 1.

Credits & Sources

Appearance History This Month

October 1, 1955
Valley Gardens Arena North Hollywood, CA
Hometown Jamboree
October 8, 1955
Valley Gardens Arena North Hollywood, CA
Hometown Jamboree

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Recordings (78rpm/45rpm)

 
Capitol
Rec. No. Side Song Title
  1765 A T-Bone Rag
  1765 B Liberty Bell Polka
  2057 B Yodelin' Guitar
  2160 A Midnight Ramble (w/Speedy West)
  2160 B Georgia Steel Guitar (w/Speedy West)
  2310 A Comin' On
  2444 A Bryant's Bounce
  2519 A Skiddle De Doo (w/Speedy West)
  2519 B Speedin' West (w/Speedy West)
  2675 A Sunset (w/Speedy West)
  2675 B This Ain't The Blues (w/Speedy West)
  2762 A Jammin' With Jimmy
  2762 B Hometown Polka
  2892 B Our Paradise
  2964 A Deep Water (w/Speedy West)
  2964 B Stratosphere Boogie (w/Speedy West)
  45-14087 A Frettin' Fingers (w/Speedy West)
  45-14087 B Chatter Box (w/Speedy West)


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