Ralph Mooney, Steel Guitar Icon, Dies at 82
Ralph Mooney, the legendary steel guitarist credited with helping create what became known as the 'Bakersfield sound,' has died. Mooney passed away Sunday, March 20, in Kennedale, Texas, according to the Los Angeles Times. He was 82.
An Academy of Country Music award winner, Mooney's iconic steel can be heard on tracks by some of the most influential artists of the last several decades, including Buck Owens, Merle Haggard, Wanda Jackson and Waylon Jennings, with whom he performed for more than 20 years.
"He was a pioneer and a visionary," says Waylon's son, Shooter Jennings. "He coveted his instrument and ultimately improved it. I feel he was one of the last keys to the old outlaw sound, and now it's gone forever. Thank God for those albums."
Although his health caused him to spend less time in the studio in recent years, Mooney continued playing occasionally until his death, including performing on four songs on Marty Stuart's 2010 album, 'Ghost Train: The Studio B Sessions.'
"He was my all-time country music hero as far as musicians go," Marty notes. "When I was making the 'Ghost Train' record, I took it to California with me. I was listening to it as I was driving down Victory Boulevard, and when I heard him play I started crying, because it was always my dream of going to California and hearing my music sound like that."
A songwriter as well as a musician, Mooney also penned the classic Ray Price hit, 'Crazy Arms,' that spent an astonishing 20 weeks in the No. 1 slot in 1956.
Mooney is survived by his wife of 62 years and their two children. Funeral services will be held on Wednesday, March 23 in Arlington, Texas.