Gene Watson's Peers within the country music industry believe in the sheer talent of this unassuming man from east Texas, so much so that Gene is regarded by many of them as 'the singer's singer' - and rightly so!
All of Gene Watson's Peers, who were contacted during 2013, were most gracious with their time and words.
It is here, within this special part of The Gene Watson Fan Site, that you have an opportunity to read a quote from Leon Rhodes, which he submitted to this site on Saturday 26 October 2013.
Sean Brady would like to take this opportunity to say 'thank you' to Leon Rhodes who has made a special contribution to a unique part of this online 'celebration of a Lone Star Hero'.
This quote was submitted on Saturday 26 October 2013.
'God blessed Gene Watson.
He is a tremendous talent and his music is timeless.
His voice is unique and you don’t have to wonder who is singing when you hear him!
In addition to his awesome voice, he is one fine gentleman and I am proud to call him my friend.
It was my privilege to play on his recordings.
I love Gene'.
Thank you, Leon Rhodes, for your support of Gene Watson.
About Leon Rhodes...
Leon Rhodes is one of the most beloved country music guitarists in history.
Leon Rhodes established himself as a clever and hard driving musician as part of Ernest Tubb’s Texas Troubadours.
Leon Rhodes' guitar style helped make up the distinctive Ernest Tubb (Monday 9 February 1914 - Thursday 6 September 1984) sound on recordings including 'Texas Troubadour Stomp', 'Cool It', 'Red Top' and the classic instrumental 'Honey Fingers'.
Leon Rhodes performed on The Grand Ole Opry in Nashville, as well as becoming a much sought-after studio musician.
Leon Rhodes is one of the seven wonders of country music guitar playing, the Collosus of Rhodes. Guitar players seem to have established a holy trinity of country guitar in which the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost are Doc Watson (Saturday 3 March 1923 - Tuesday 29 May 2012), Leon Rhodes and Grady Martin (Thursday 17 January 1929 - Monday 3 December 2001).
As a member of what is considered the classic lineup of Ernest Tubb & The Texas Troubadours, Leon Rhodes already had a secure place in the genre's history, but factor in his countless recording sessions for other country music legends, along with nearly four decades of action in the Grand Ole Opry house band, and you have a guitarist whose presence and influence are simply massive.
In 1999, Leon Rhodes was treated in a very special way after years and years as a fixture on The Grand Ole Opry stage; he was fired. It was part of a shift in musicians dictated from management, the need for young blood and all that.
Not everyone on the country music scene was thrilled with this move, which also involved kicking Buddy Harmon (Sunday 23 December 1928 - Thursday 21 August 2008) and his drum set off-stage, displacing a drummer who had played on 10,000 recording sessions. 'Leon Rhodes could play circles around anyone in Nashville' was a typical comment reflecting the Opry's management skills and respect for the music's history.
Leon Rhodes first joined Ernest Tubb's already hot band in 1960, putting a stop to a game of musical chairs that had been going on in the lead guitar spot.
Steel guitar whiz Buddy Emmons was actually playing lead as a stopgap when Leon Rhodes was hired. In relief, Buddy Emmons sat back at his main axe and the two men instantly established a superb level of sympathetic interplay, breezily tossing honky tonk and bebop licks back and forth as if they were fragrances for the listener to sniff on a spring morning.
The great Buddy Emmons was just a warm-up for Buddy Charleton, who joined the band on steel guitar in 1962, consolidating a lineup which also included drummer Jack Greene (Tuesday 7 January 1930 - Thursday 15 March 2013) and Cal Smith (Thursday 7 April 1932 - Thursday 10 October 2013), who would later enjoy their own solo careers. This was considered the ultimate version of The Texas Troubadours.
In his late twenties when he climbed into Ernest Tubb's band, Leon Rhodes already had a dozen years of professional experience behind him. He was considered a natural musician as a child and, at the age of sixteen, he was on the staff band on the 'Big D Jamboree' broadcast. In the 1950s, Leon Rhodes' picking style was an essential part of the sound of records by Ray Price (Tuesday 12 January 1926 - Monday 16 December 2013), Lefty Frizzell (Saturday 31 March 1928 - Saturday 19 July 1975), and many other country music greats.
Leon Rhodes is said to have worked constantly, not only as a guitarist, but also as a drummer and vocalist on the Dallas club scene.
Leon Rhodes also toured in this period with artists including Sonny James () and Buddy Griffin. Although his schedule was as packed as this, music was actually still a sideline for Leon Rhodes; he actually preferred pitching professional fast-ball softball and played for a team that twice scored highly in world tournaments.
When Ernest Tubb came upon him, Leon Rhodes was playing mostly drums in the band of Dewey Groom and balked when offered the lead guitar slot in The Troubadours, apparently telling Buddy Emmons 'I ain't no guitarist'.
This 'ain't no' picker has played on dozens of great country country albums by a number of artists, including Willie Nelson, Waylon Jennings (Tuesday 15 June 1937 - Wednesday 13 February 2002), Loretta Lynn, Reba McEntire, George Strait and Jean Shepard (Tuesday 21 November 1933 - Sunday 25 September 2016).
In other words, the existence of a country record collection without a Leon Rhodes guitar solo in there somewhere is an impossibility, pure and simple.
Such studio work and the Opry bandstand were where Leon Rhodes went when he left Ernest Tubb (Monday 9 February 1914 - Thursday 6 September 1984) in 1966, unfortunately not under the best of circumstances. Ernest Tubb apparently didn't want The Grand Ole Opry to be who would get his departing guitar genius and tried to block the venue from hiring him, almost resulting in a lawsuit. When the dust settled, Leon Rhodes found he was much happier playing the Opry and recording in Nashville than touring with Ernest Tubb. For one thing, Leon started making much more money.
When artists such as John Denver (Friday 31 December 1943 - Sunday 12 October 1997) or B.J. Thomas wanted a good country sound, they called Leon Rhodes.
The logic of this didn't even escape The Chipmunks, who squeaked him a gig when creating their country-ish 'Urban Chipmunk' album. Thanks to the Grand Ole Opry, the great guitarist now had more time than ever to take on assignments such as this.
In December 1962, Ernest Tubb & The Texas Troubadours saw the release of 'On Tour' (Decca Records, 1962), which was produced by Owen Bradley (Thursday 21 October 1915 - Wednesday 7 January 1998) and featured the following musicians:
Leon Rhodes and Grady Martin (lead guitar)
Johnny Johnson (rhythm guitar)
Buddy Charleton (steel guitar)
Jack Drake (bass)
Jan Kurtis (drums)
Floyd Cramer (Friday 27 October 1933 - Wednesday 31 December 1997) (piano)
Ernest Tubb & The Texas Troubadours' 'On Tour' (Decca Records, 1962) was recorded between September 1961 and April 1962 at Cain's Ballroom in Tulsa, Oklahoma and included the following tracks:
'Women Make a Fool Out of Me', which was written by Jimmie Rodgers (8 September 1897 - Friday 26 May 1933)
'Go on Home, which was written by Hank Cochran (Friday 2 August 1935 - Thursday 15 July 2010)
'Steel Guitar Rag' (instrumental), which was written by Merle Travis (Thursday 29 November 1917 - Thursday 20 October 1983), Cliffie Stone (Thursday 1 March 1917 - Saturday 17 January 1998) and Leon McAuliffe (Wednesday 3 January 1917 - Saturday 20 August 1988)
'Old Love New Tears' (written by Leon Rhodes and Clay Allen)
'Try Me One More Time', which was written by Ernest Tubb (Monday 9 February 1914 - Thursday 6 September 1984)
'Lover's Waltz' (instrumental) (written by Leon Rhodes and Clay Allen)
'Drivin' Nails in My Coffin' (written by Jerry Irby)
'Out of My Mind' (written by Leon Rhodes and Arvel Bourquin)
'Red Skin Rag' (instrumental), which was written by Bob Kiser and Leon McAuliffe (Wednesday 3 January 1917 - Saturday 20 August 1988)
'Watching My Past Go By', which was written by Ernest Tubb (Monday 9 February 1914 - Thursday 6 September 1984)
'Bandera Waltz' (written by Ollie Adams)
'In & Out (of Every Heart in Town)' (written by Hugh Ashley)
Leon Rhodes, along with Tommy Allsup and Charlie McCoy, played rhythm guitar on Gene Watson's 'Love in the Hot Afternoon' (Capitol Records, 1975).
Leon Rhodes, along with Joe Allen and Henry Strzelecki (), played bass on Gene Watson's 'Love in the Hot Afternoon' (Capitol Records, 1975).
Other musicians involved in the recording of Gene Watson's 'Love in the Hot Afternoon' (Capitol Records, 1975) included the following:
Jimmie Colvard (1943 - 1977), Pete Wade and Dale Sellers (lead guitar)
Lloyd Green (steel guitar and dobro)
Charlie McCoy (harmonica)
Charlie McCoy and Kenny Malone (marimba)
Hargus 'Pig' Robbins (piano)
Buddy Spicher (fiddle)
Kenny Malone, Jimmy Isabel and Buddy Harman (Sunday 23 December 1928 - Thursday 21 August 2008) (drums)
Jerry Tuttle (horn)
The Nashville Edition (voices)
On Tuesday 3 December 2002, Hux Records in England released 'Love In The Hot Afternoon', as a special 2-for-1 CD, along with 'Paper Rosie' (Capitol Records, 1978).
Leon Rhodes played rhythm and lead guitar on Gene Watson's 'Because You Believed In Me' (Capitol Records, 1976).
Other musicians involved in the recording of Gene Watson's 'Because You Believed In Me' (Capitol Records, 1976) included the following:
Tommy Allsup (rhythm guitar and bass guitar)
Lloyd Green (steel guitar)
Norman 'Buddy' Spicher (fiddle)
Joe Allen (bass)
Hargus 'Pig' Robbins (piano)
Jimmie Colvard (1943 - 1977) and Pete Wade (lead guitar)
Jimmy Isbell, Buddy Harman (Sunday 23 December 1928 - Thursday 21 August 2008) and Kenny Malone (drums)
On Monday 26 September 2005, Hux Records in England released 'Because You Believed in Me', as a special 2-on-1 CD, along with 'Beautiful Country' (Capitol Records, 1977).
Connect with Leon Rhodes at myspace.com/leonrhodes
Connect with Leon Rhodes on Facebook