Wesley Webb ("Speedy") West was born on January 25, 1924 in
Springfield, Missouri. He relocated to California in 1946, making
his musical debut in the bands of Tex Williams and Hank Penny.
His artistic mastery of the Steel Guitar soon made him the
busiest steel guitar player on the West Coast. Along with his
partner, legendary guitar player Jimmy Bryant they were the
first instrumentalists to get a recording contract with a
major label—Capitol Records—solely for the purpose
of recording instrumental tunes.
These recordings have a virtuosity and fire that is still
unequaled today. The songs include classics like
"Speedin' West", "Railroadin" and "Georgia Steel Guitar".
It is almost impossible to listen to music from the 1950's without
meeting Speedy West. The artists he recorded with include
names like Cliffie Stone, Tennessee Ernie Ford, Jean Shepard,
Ferlin Husky and Sheb Wooley.
His musical virtuosity was also
used by Jazz and Pop producers, he can be heard on
records by Bing Crosby, the Andrew Sisters, Ella Mae Morse and
even the weird Spike Jones!
In 1981 he suffered a stroke, ending his musical career and leaving
him unable to play anymore, but he still continues to appear at
Steel Guitar Shows around the country, mostly as host and emcee,
still keeping audiences spellbound with his dry humor and his
enormous knowledge about the history of Country Music.
Credits & Sources
- Hillbilly-Music.com wishes to express its
appreciation and thanks to Walter F. Stettner of Vienna, Austria
for contributing this article on Herb to get us started on documenting
Speedy West's career.
Walter is also a steel guitarist and a serious country music collector.
He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.