'World-class player' also won respect as teacher, guitar builder
Steel Guitar Hall of Famer Jimmie Crawford — an innovative player, teacher
and instrument-maker who performed with artists including Kitty Wells,
George Jones, Loretta Lynn and Dolly Parton — died early Wednesday after
an apparent heart attack. He was 69.
"He was in that small, elite group of world-class players," said
Lloyd Green, himself a legend in the steel guitar world. "He could hold
his own with anyone. A musical genius."
Born in Obetz, Ohio, Mr. Crawford grew up around country music. He began
playing in area clubs with Donny Lytle, who would later become famous
as "Johnny Paycheck."
fter leaving the road in 1975, he became as respected as a teacher and
guitar builder (he and John Hughey founded the JCH Steel Guitar Co.) as
he was as a player.
In the mid-1990s, Mr. Crawford decided to perform again. He toured with
Radney Foster's band for three years.
"He could go from things that were incredibly rockin' to
incredibly traditional, and I'd look down and see people near the stage with
their jaws dropping," Foster said. "Even people who didn't know
anything about the pedal steel would realize how great he is."
Mr. Crawford is survived by wife Elsie Orens Crawford; sister Connie Crawford
Johnson; children Lucy Callaway, Steve Crawford, Tim Crawford, Robin Fletcher,
Rhonda Crawford and Dee Dee Wright; 12 grandchildren and five great-grandchildren.
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