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 Pete Drake

Pete Drake

Augusta, Richmond County, Georgia, USA
Death 29 Jul 1988 (aged 55)
Nashville, Davidson County, Tennessee, USA
Burial Nashville, Davidson County, Tennessee, USA
Plot Laurel Hill
Memorial ID 11966 · View Source
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Musician, Record Producer. He is best remembered as a pedal steel guitar studio musician and recording producer in Nashville, Tennessee from the 1960's into the 1980s. He was born Roddis Franklin Drake in Augusta, Georgia, the son of a Pentecostal preacher. When he was 18 years old, he visited Nashville and became fascinated by the steel guitar sounds of musician Jerry Byrd. He returned home and built his own steel guitar and taught himself to play, and after a few years he became one of Atlanta, Georgia's first steel guitar players. He formed his own band, "The Sons of the South" which included future country star musicians Joe South, Roger Miller, Doug Kershaw, Jerry Reed, and Jack Greene. In 1959 he moved to Nashville and started touring with Marty Robins, Don Gibson, and others, but soon gave it up to focus on becoming a studio musician and working at Nashville's Grand Ole Opry as a backup musician. In 1962 he formed Window Music Publishing and Tomake Music with Tommy Hill, Ralph Davis, Jerry Shook, Jack Drake, and Ralph Emory, to accommodate the flow of new Country music writers, signing Ed Bruce and Bill and Dottie West, whose song "Is This Me" became a Number 1 Country hit by recording artist Jim Reeves. In 1963 he signed a recording contract with Smash Records, recording several albums including "Forever," from which his single by the same name reached Number 22 on Billboard's Hot 100 in 1964, eventually selling over one million copies for which he received a Gold Disc Award. That same year he was voted "Instrumentalist of the Year" by Cashbox Magazine, "Fastest Climbing Instrumentalists" by Record World and "Instrumentalist of the Year" by the Country Music Association. His acclaim as a studio musician continued to grow as he recorded with Country artists Lyn Anderson, Marty Robbins, Charley Pride, The Louvin Brothers, Johnny Cash, Bobby Bare, Dolly Parton, Porter Wagoner, Jerry Lee Lewis, Reba McEntire, Charley Rich, Charlie Rich, and Tammy Wynette and well as Rock artists Bob Dylan, Ringo Starr, Buddy Holly, Elvis Presley, The Everly Brothers, and George Harrison. His innovative use of what would be called the talk box (or "talking music actuator") added novel effects to the sound of his steel guitar during recording sessions, which earned him the nickname "King of the Talking Steel Guitar." The device would later be used by Rock musicians Peter Frampton, Joe Walsh, Jeff Beck, and Roger Troutman. In 1970 he was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame's Walkway of Stars and the Steel Guitar Hall of Fame in 1987, as well as receiving Nashville Entertainment Association's "Master Award." He was president of the Pete Drake Music Group which included First Generation Records, Petewood Music, and his publishing companies Window Music and Tomake Music. In 1985 he developed emphysema brought on by many years of smoking and his health started to decline. He built a recording studio at his home in Brentwood, Tennessee to accommodate his illness. He died from emphysema in Nashville at the age of 55. He was posthumously inducted into the Atlanta Country Music Hall of Fame in 1990 Georgia Music Hall of Fame in 2010.

Bio by: William Bjornstad

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His courage, his smile, his talent
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  • Maintained by: Find A Grave
  • Added: 30 Aug 2000
  • Find A Grave Memorial 11966
  • Find A Grave, database and images ( : accessed ), memorial page for Pete Drake (8 Oct 1932–29 Jul 1988), Find A Grave Memorial no. 11966, citing Spring Hill Cemetery, Nashville, Davidson County, Tennessee, USA ; Maintained by Find A Grave .