Born 12 December 1936, Caruthersville, Missouri
Reggie Young is one of the most recorded guitarists in history, although most of his work falls outside the scope of this list, which concentrates on the 1955-62 period. He is a very versatile guitar player, who has played virtually every style of music : early rockabilly, rhythm and blues, country, rock, pop and jazz.
Born at his grandmother's house in Caruthersville (where he never actually lived), Young grew up in Oceola, Arkansas. His father, who played Hawaiian guitar, gave Reggie his first guitar, a National flat-top, for Christmas in 1950, the year in which the Young family moved to Memphis. Growing up, Young was influenced by a WSM radio show out of Nashville called "Two Guitars" (which featured Chet Atkins, Jerry Byrd and Ray Edenton), but also by the Delta Blues. He describes his style of playing as a mixture of Chet Atkins and B.B. King.
He joined Eddie Bond and the Stompers in 1955. A local deejay who called himself Sleepy-Eyed John heard them play and asked them to record the song "Rockin' Daddy" at WHHM Studio. Mercury Records took an interest in the song and signed Bond to a deal. The song became a local hit, opening the way for the band to go on the road with the likes of Johnny Cash, Carl Perkins and Roy Orbison. Johnny Horton was on one of those package tours and asked Reggie to become his guitarist. Throughout 1958 Reggie worked with Horton, performing on the Louisiana Hayride almost every Saturday night. In 1959 Young was a founding member of Bill Black's Combo. Their first record, "Smokie" was a Top 20 hit (or at least Part 2), but while the record was still in the charts, Young received his draft notice and spent two years in the US Army (18 months in Ethiopia). After his demob he rejoined the band, touring all over the country, and opening for the Beatles at one of their US tours in 1964. After the Beatles tour, Young played in the UK for 30 days, on a package tour that included Billy J. Kramer as the headliner.
Tired of touring, Young decided to concentrate on studio work as a guitar player, at first only in Memphis (Royal Studio, American Sound Studio), but soon also in Muscle Shoals (Fame Studios), Nashville and occasionally New York City. He became part of the famed 827 Thomas Street band, a group of experienced Memphis studio players (the others were Tommy Cogbill, Mike Leech, Bobby Emmons, Bobby Wood and Gene Chrisman), brought together by producer Chips Moman. Elvis Presley recorded with this group in 1969, resulting in some of his more memorable hits like "In the Ghetto", "Suspicious Minds" and "Kentucky Rain".
The group worked with many other acts, including Dusty Springfield, Wilson Pickett, Dionne Warwick, Neil Diamond, Ivory Joe Hunter, John Prine, Tony Joe White and the Box Tops, not just with Chips Moman, but also with producers like Jerry Wexler and Rick Hall. According to Young, he played on 155 chart records between 1967 and 1972, R&B charts included.
In 1972, Reggie moved to Nashville where he is still living (and musically active) today, playing on a list of who's who in the pop and country world. The first hit record he played on in Nashville was "Drift Away" by Dobie Gray. Young also plays the famous intro of "I Can Help" by Billy Swan and he was on the "Class Of '55" album by Johnny Cash, Jerry Lee Lewis, Carl Perkins and Roy Orbison (1986). Also on the "All the King's Men" project by Scotty Moore and D.J. Fontana (1997). Etcetera, etcetera. But he never made any solo recordings. He would like to, though :"I'm writing songs to do a guitar CD, I'd like to record some stuff I've written while I can still play, I still feel like age hasn't caught up with me yet."
Much more info can be found in these three interviews:
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