"Speedy West" - was born Wesley Webb West, January 25th, 1925 at Springfield, Missouri.
He was raised 10 miles east of Springfield on a farm where he grew up learning all about farm life and dairy farming. His family were musically inclined and he decided he wanted to learn to play the steel guitar at an early age. Speedy told the story, "My father gave up his most prized guitar in order to buy me my first steel guitar."
The young Wesley West was soon playing with local Country bands and was given the nickname "Speedy" by a friend. He kept the nickname and remained Speedy West for the rest of his life. Even his mother referred to him as "Speedy."
The young "Speedy" soon left for California, with his first wife and first born son. It was only a matter of time and he became a world famous steel guitar player.
Speedy teamed up with Jimmy Bryant a Country Virtuo Guitarist from Georgia. They became known as the "Flaming Guitarists." So popular that they recorded over 150 of their own compositions for Capitol Records of Hollywood California. They were also on national television shows which was a new thing in the late 1940's and 1950s.
Speedy West became a Master Showman, he was original, a stylist and innovator of the Steel Guitar. He was probably the first Country Steel Guitartist to put pedals on his steel guitar. He was doing this as early as 1948.
Speedy recorded over 6,000 songs durting his lengthy musical career. He recorded with many famous singers and bands including: Roy Rogers, The Sons of The Pioneers, Tenneessee Ernie Ford, Bing Crosby, Loretta Lynn, Frankie Laine, The Modenaires, Dinah Shore, and many others.
Speedy West was inducted into The International Steel Guitar Players Hall of Fame 1980. His plaque reads:
"Uniquely identifiable stylist who so combined chordal executions and single-string riffs that public recognition of the steel guitar and his name were achieved. He pioneered the "Crash bar" technique, composed instrumentals that became classics to the instrument's players, and is Steel's Foremost Showman. The International Steel Guitar Convention Board, St. Louis, Missouri 1980."
Speedy married his second wife Mary. He had three children: Donald, Gary "Speedy West Jr." and a daughter.
Speedy West was a very fun person to be around, always laughing, joking and having a good time. He was a loving husband, loving father and grandfather. He was a friend of many and helped a lot of musicians everywhere. He was of the Christian faith.
We miss you Speedy West! Hope to see you again in Heaven!
A Speedy West Friend,
Terry J. Wood
(Bio created by friend Terry Wood)
Opal Mae Hughes Dunham
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