Orville "Red" Rhodes (1930-1995) was one of the preeminent pedal steel guitar players of the 1960s and '70s. A prolific Los Angeles studio musician, Rhodes was equally at home in rock, pop and country sessions, and played on dozens of chart-topping albums. His country-rock bona fides include a long association with former Monkees member Mike Nesmith, who was an early pioneer of the style. Rhodes also recorded several pedal steel instrumental albums... Here's a quick look at his work...

Discography - Best-Ofs

Red Rhodes "Studio 102 Essentials" (Studio 102, 2009)

Discography - Albums

Red Rhodes "Once A Day" (Crown, 1964) (LP)

Red Rhodes "Blue Blue Day" (Crown, 1964) (LP)

Red Rhodes "Steel Guitar Rag" (Crown, 1965) (LP)

Red Rhodes "Live At The Palomino" (Happy Tiger, 1969) (LP)

Red Rhodes "Velvet Hammer In A Cowboy Band" (Countryside-Elektra, 1973) (LP)
(Produced by Michael Nesmith)

A gorgeous set of instrumental psychedelic-pop twang, emanating from the same hippiedelic stratosphere as Michael Nesmith, whose band Rhodes helped anchor in the early 'Seventies. These imaginative, adventurous, lushly-arranged, multilayered tracks are perhaps Red Rhodes's most ambitious solo work, a super-trippy "headphone" album that captures the grooviest vibes of a wildly eclectic musical era. Definitely worth a spin! (By the way, these tracks have been reissued several times, sometimes with overdubs, etc., on a variety of labels. Alternate editions include Steel Guitar Record Club No. 10 (1976), Steel Guitar (1979) and Fantastic Steel Guitar (1980), which are listed below. There may be some others that I'm not aware of... can't keep track of everything!)

Red Rhodes "Velvet Hammer" (Steel Guitar Record Club, 1976) (LP)
(Produced by Michael Nesmith)

This is the first reissue of the 1973 album above... Apparently it's a different mix, though, as well as a different track order, and includes a new track not included on the original album.

Pacific Steel Company "Pacific Steel Co." (Pacific Arts, 1978) (LP)
(Produced by Al Perkins)

An all-instrumental summit session featuring five pedal steel playing giants of the West Coast country scene's royalty: Tom Brumley (who played with the Buck Owens band), Sneaky Pete Kleinow of the Flying Burrito Brothers (and countless hippie-country recordings) along with Red Rhodes, Jay Dee Maness, and Al Perkins, all of whom played on countless sessions for a wide range of artists. Like many instrumental albums, this may appeal mainly to aficionados of the instrument in question, and this particular disc has a few rock-pop moments that may distract more country-oriented fans. Melodic/psychedelic rock and a hint of disco color these tunes, but it's solid picking all the way through -- a delight for fans of steel guitar. Although they billed themselves as a "band," each track is credited to individual soloists, and each seems to have brought his own separate backup players, although the best tracks feature combinations of more than one steel player at a time. These were the guys who provided much of the sweet soulful ooomph for the SoCal country-rock sound, and it's nice to hear them emerge into the spotlight for a while.

Red Rhodes "Red Rhodes' Steel Guitar" (Alshire, 1979) (LP)
This is apparently a reissue/remix of the 1973 Velvet Hammer album...

Red Rhodes "Fantastic Steel Guitar" (Exact, 1980) (LP)
Also a reissue of the Velvet Hammer album...

Red Rhodes "Steel Guitar Favorites" (Alshire, 1990) (LP)


Hick Music Index

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