Floyd Cramer
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Floyd Cramer
Floyd Cramer
Floyd Cramer (1965).jpg
Cramer in 1965
Background information
Floyd Cramer
Born October 27, 1933
Shreveport, Louisiana, United States
Origin Huttig, Arkansas, United States
Died December 31, 1997(1997-12-31) (aged 64)
Nashville, Tennessee
Pianist
Instruments Piano, organ, harpsichord
Elvis Presley, Chet Atkins, Patsy Cline

Floyd Cramer (October 27, 1933 - December 31, 1997) was an American Hall of Fame pianist who was one of the architects of the Nashville sound. He was known for his "slip note" piano style, in which an out-of-key note slides into the correct note.

Biography

Cramer was born in Shreveport, Louisiana, and grew up in the small town of Huttig, Arkansas. He taught himself to play the piano. After finishing high school, he returned to Shreveport, where he worked as a pianist for the radio show Louisiana Hayride.

In 1953, he cut his first single, "Dancin' Diane", backed with "Little Brown Jug", for the local Abbott label. In 1955 he played dates with an emerging talent who would later figure significantly in his career, Elvis Presley.[1][2]

In 1955 Cramer moved to Nashville, where piano accompaniment in country music was growing in popularity. By the next year he was, in his words, "in day and night doing session".[3] Before long, he was one of the busiest studio musicians in the industry, playing piano for stars such as Elvis Presley, Brenda Lee, Patsy Cline, the Browns, Jim Reeves, Eddy Arnold, Roy Orbison, Don Gibson, and the Everly Brothers, among others.[4] It was Cramer's piano playing, for instance, on Presley's first RCA Victor single, "Heartbreak Hotel". However, Cramer remained strictly a session player, a virtual unknown to anyone outside the music industry.

Cramer had released records under his own name since the early 1950s and became well known following the release of "Last Date", a 45-rpm single, released by RCA Victor in 1960.[5] The instrumental piece exhibited a relatively new concept in piano playing known as the "slip note" style. The record went to number two on the Billboard Hot 100 pop music chart, sold over one million copies, and was awarded a gold disc. The song was kept out of the number 1 position by Elvis Presley's "Are You Lonesome Tonight".[6] The session pianist for Elvis's recording of that #1 song, in a very early morning session (about 4:00 AM) at RCA Studio B in Nashville, was none other than Floyd Cramer himself.

Of the characteristic "slip note" style, Cramer commented, "The style I use mainly is a whole-tone slur which gives more of a lonesome cowboy sound. You hit a note and slide almost simultaneously to another." The origin of the style is uncertain. It seems to have first emerged at the 1960 session for Hank Locklin's hit "Please Help Me, I'm Falling", when Cramer was asked by Chet Atkins to copy the unusual piano styling of songwriter Don Robertson, who had played on the demo. Cramer also acknowledged the influence of "Mother" Maybelle Carter's autoharp playing.[1]

In 1961, Cramer had a hit with "On the Rebound", which went to number 4, and number 1 on the UK Singles Chart.[7] ("On the Rebound" was featured during the opening credits of the 2009 Oscar-nominated film An Education, which was set in England in 1961.) Also in 1961, Cramer had a hit with "San Antonio Rose" (number 8).

By the mid-1960s, Cramer had become a respected performer, making numerous albums and touring with guitar maestro Chet Atkins and saxophonist Boots Randolph, sometimes headlining and sometimes as the opening act for Eddy Arnold. Cramer also performed with them as a member of the Million Dollar Band.

Over the years, he continued to balance session work with his own albums. Many of these featured standards or popular hits of the era. From 1965 to 1974 he annually recorded a disc of the year's biggest hits, entitled Class of . . . . Other albums included I Remember Hank Williams (1962), Floyd Cramer Plays the Monkees (1967), Sounds of Sunday (1971) and Looking for Mr. Goodbar (1978). In 1977 Floyd Cramer and the Keyboard Kick Band was released, on which he played eight different keyboard instruments.[1]

In 1980 Cramer's final major chart entry was a version of the theme of the television series Dallas.[1][8]

Cramer died of lung cancer on New Year's Eve, 1997 at the age of 64. He was interred in the Spring Hill Cemetery in the Nashville suburb of Madison, Tennessee.

Legacy

His grandson, Jason Coleman, inherited his grandfather's skill on the piano, performing with him on television and in concert at a young age. At age 17, he played "Please Help Me, I'm Falling", the first song to feature Cramer's signature slip notes, with Hank Locklin at the Grand Ole Opry, and two years later played piano for the Medallion Ceremony at Cramer's induction into the Country Music Hall of Fame. He carries on his grandfather's legacy with recordings and a touring tribute concert, The Piano Magic of Floyd Cramer, sharing the piano arrangements and story of Cramer's contributions to American music.

Awards

In 2003 Cramer was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. In 2004, his recording of "Last Date" was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame, established to honor recordings of lasting qualitative or historical significance. In 2008 Cramer was inducted into the Louisiana Music Hall of Fame.

East Tennessee State University, in Johnson City, Tennessee, offers the Floyd Cramer Competitive Scholarship.

Quotation

Trying to launch myself on a solo career, after being Elvis Presley's pianist for so long, placed me in an unenviable position. Some people thought I was trying to cash in. If I had wanted to cash in on my association with Elvis, I would have done it five years ago.

-- NME - November 1961[9]

Discography

Albums

Year Album Chart Positions Label
US Country US
1957 That Honky Tonk Piano -- -- MGM Records
1960 Hello Blues -- -- RCA Victor
1961 Last Date -- --
On the Rebound -- 70
1962 America's Biggest Selling Pianist -- --
Floyd Cramer Gets Organ-ized -- 113
I Remember Hank Williams -- 130
1963 Swing Along with Floyd Cramer -- --
Comin' On -- --
Three Great Pianos (with Peter Nero and Frankie Carle) -- --
1964 Country Piano-City Strings -- --
Cramer at the Console -- --
The Best of Floyd Cramer -- --
1965 Hits from the Country Hall of Fame 10 --
Class of '65 -- 107
The Magic Touch of Floyd Cramer -- --
1966 The Distinctive Piano Style of Floyd Cramer -- --
Only the Big Ones -- --
Class of '66 -- 123
1967 Night Train -- --
Here's What's Happening! 20 166
Floyd Cramer Plays the Monkees -- --
Class of '67 21 --
We Wish You a Merry Christmas -- 26
1968 Floyd Cramer Plays Country Classics 16 --
Class of '68 -- --
Floyd Cramer Plays MacArthur Park 36 --
The Best of Floyd Cramer Volume 2 -- --
1969 Class of '69 31 --
Floyd Cramer Plays More Country Classics 17 --
1970 The Big Ones, Vol. 2 -- 183
With the Music City Pops -- --
This Is Floyd Cramer 39 --
Class of '70 43 --
1971 Almost Persuaded -- --
Chet Floyd & Boots (with Chet Atkins and Boots Randolph) -- --
Sounds of Sunday 44 --
Class of '71 34 --
1972 Detours -- --
Class of '72 -- --
Best of the Class of Floyd Cramer -- --
Date with Floyd Cramer -- --
1973 Floyd Cramer Plays the Big Hits -- --
Super Country Hits -- --
Class of '73 34 --
1974 Young and Restless -- --
Spotlight On -- --
Floyd Cramer in Concert 25 --
1975 Piano Masterpieces 1900-1975 -- --
Class of '74 and '75 -- --
1976 Floyd Cramer Country 46 --
1977 Floyd Cramer & the Keyboard Kick Band 50 --
Chet Floyd & Danny (with Chet Atkins and Danny Davis) 46 --
1978 Looking for Mr. Goodbar -- --
1979 Super Hits -- --
1980 Dallas 29 170
1981 Great Country Hits -- --
The Best of the West -- --
1982 20 of the Best -- --
1985 Collector's Date -- --
Country Classics -- -- Pair Records
1988 Special Songs of Love -- -- Step One Records
Country Gold -- --
Just Me and My Piano -- --
1989 Forever Floyd Cramer -- --
We Wish You a Merry Christmas -- --
Originals -- --
1991 Gospel Classics -- --
1994 The Piano Magic of Floyd Cramer -- -- Ranwood
1995 Favorite Country Hits 1 -- --
1996 The Piano Magic of Floyd Cramer 2 -- --
1997 Blue Skies -- --
Favorite Country Hits 2 -- --

Singles

Year Single Chart Positions Album
US
[10]
US Country US R&B US AC UK
1958 "Flip Flop and Bop" 87 -- -- -- -- Last Date
1960 "Last Date" 2 11 3 -- --
1961 "On the Rebound" 4 -- 16 -- 1 On the Rebound
"San Antonio Rose" 8 8 -- 3 36
"Your Last Goodbye" 63 -- -- -- -- America's Biggest Selling Pianist
"Hang On" 95 -- -- -- --
1962 "Chattanooga Choo Choo" 36 -- -- 9 -- (single only)
"Let's Go" 90 -- -- -- -- Floyd Cramer Gets Organ-ized
"Lovesick Blues" 87 -- -- 20 -- I Remember Hank Williams
"Hot Pepper" 63 -- -- -- 46 (singles only)
"Swing Low" 110 -- -- -- --
"Losers Weepers" 127 -- -- -- --
1963 "Java" 49 -- -- 12 -- Swing Along with Floyd Cramer
"(These Are) The Young Years" 129 -- -- -- -- Comin' On
"How High the Moon" 121 -- -- -- -- (single only)
"Heartless Heart" 124 -- -- -- -- Country Piano-City Strings
1967 "Stood Up" -- 53 -- 24 -- (single only)
1968 "By the Time I Get To Phoenix" -- -- -- 32 --
1970 "Theme from Two-Twenty-Two" -- -- -- 39 --
1977 "Rhythm of the Rain" -- 67 -- -- -- Floyd Cramer & the Keyboard Kick Band
1980 "Dallas"A 104 32 -- 34 -- Dallas
  • A"Dallas" peaked at No. 8 on the RPM Country Tracks chart in Canada.

See also

References

  1. ^ a b c d Wadey P., "Obituary: Floyd Cramer", Independent Monthly (UK), Independent News and Media Limited, January 1998.
  2. ^ Friday, April 1; Saturday, April 2; Sunday, August 14; Monday, September 5, the beginning of a five-day tour. Guralnick, Peter; Jorgensen, Ernst. Elvis Day by Day. Random House. Retrieved February 2014.
  3. ^ "Floyd Cramer", Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum. Retrieved September 17, 2014.
  4. ^ Chet Atkins interviewed on the Pop Chronicles (1969)
  5. ^ "Last Date" is the closing theme of Ray Hadley's radio show on Sydney's radio station 2GB.
  6. ^ Murrells, Joseph (1978). The Book of Golden Discs (2nd ed.). London: Barrie and Jenkins. p. 123. ISBN 0-214-20512-6. 
  7. ^ Rice, Jo (1982). The Guinness Book of 500 Number One Hits. Enfield, Middlesex: Guinness Superlatives. p. 57. ISBN 0-85112-250-7. 
  8. ^ Steffen Hung. "Floyd Cramer - Theme From Dallas". hitparade.ch. Retrieved 2016. 
  9. ^ Tobler, John (1992). NME Rock 'N' Roll Years (1st ed.). London: Reed International Books Ltd. p. 100. CN 5585. 
  10. ^ Whitburn, Joel (2011). Top Pop Singles 1955-2010. Record Research, Inc. p. 207. ISBN 0-89820-188-8. 

Other sources

  • Escott, Colin (1998), "Floyd Cramer". In Paul Kingsbury (ed.), The Encyclopedia of Country Music, New York: Oxford University Press., pp. 117-18.

External links


  This article uses material from the Wikipedia page available here. It is released under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share-Alike License 3.0.

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