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Country Hall of Famer Harold Bradley dies at 93

Thursday, January 31, 2019 – Country Music Hall of Fame guitarist Harold Bradley, who played on hundreds of country, pop and rock recordings and helped forge a new sound in Nashville with his brother, passed away on Thursday at 93.

Bradley, who was considered part of The A-Team of Nashville recording musicians, played on songs from the likes of Hank Williams, Elvis Presley, Buddy Holly, the Everly Brothers and Loretta Lynn. He played on Brenda Lee's "I'm Sorry" and Roy Orbison's "Crying."

Harold Ray Bradley was born on Jan. 2, 1926 in Nashville. At first, Bradley was interested in the banjo, but his older brother, Owen, who would himself become a music powerhouse in Nashville, suggested the guitar. Harold was playing amplified jazz guitar by 1943. Although only 17, Owen got him a summer job that year playing lead guitar with Ernest Tubb's Texas Troubadours.

Bradley went into the Navy from 1944 to 1946 and returned to Nashville to study music and play in his brother's dance band. His first country recording session came in 1946, when he recorded with Pee Wee King's Golden West Cowboys in Chicago. With more recordings being done in Nashville, Bradley worked more as a studio musician.As recording activity increased in Nashville, Bradley's studio workload grew. His acoustic rhythm guitar opened Red Foley's 1950 hit "Chattanoogie Shoe Shine Boy," which went to the top of both the country and pop charts.

Bradley often played rhythm guitar and did many recordings with guitarists Hank Garland and Grady Martin. Garland veered towards jazzy with Martin on the funkier side. Following Garland suffered a serious car accident in 1961, Bradley assumed lead roles.

He played rhythm on Roy Orbison's chestnut "Crying" (1961). Bradley also played the opening banjo notes on Johnny Horton's 1959 hit "The Battle of New Orleans." Bradley contributed electric bass guitar on Patsy Cline's "Crazy."

Among the hits that Bradley on were Eddy Arnold's "Make the World Go Away," Don Gibson's "Oh Lonesome Me," Roger Miller's "King of the Road," Ray Price's "Danny Boy," Jeannie C. Riley's "Harper Valley P.T.A.," Bobby Vinton's "Blue Velvet," Burl Ives' "Holly Jolly Christmas," Faron Young's "Hello Walls," Tammy Wynette's "Stand by Your Man" and Conway Twitty's "Hello Darlin.'"

After operating two small Nashville recording studios in the early 1950s, Harold and Owen opened Bradley Film and Recording on Sixteenth Avenue South in 1955. Soon they added a second studio, using a military Quonset hut. The studio was the first music related business on what would become Music Row. Along with RCA Studio B, which opened in 1957, the Bradley Studios helped give birth to the pop-influenced Nashville Sound.

Columbia Records purchased the Bradley studio in 1962.

He recorded three albums as a pop guitarist on Columbia Records, "Misty Guitar," "Guitar for Lovers Only" and "Bossa Nova Goes to Nashville" in the 1960s.

Bradley was the first president of Nashville's chapter of the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences (NARAS). In the 1980s, he toured with Floyd Cramer and served as bandleader for Slim Whitman. He also produced Irish country singer Sandy Kelly and Eddy Arnold's later RCA albums. In 1991, Bradley began his long service as president of Nashville's chapter of the American Federation of Musicians (AF of M) and later became that organization's international vice president.

Bradley was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame in 2006.

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