Floyd Cramer Joins Country Music Hall of Fame
induction ceremony to take place during CMA Awards

Floyd Cramer photo courtesy of the Country Music Hall of Fame And Museum

Floyd Cramer will be the first person to be inducted in the new "Recording and/or Touring Musician Active Prior to 1980" category in the Country Music Hall of Fame.

Cramer and Carl Smith will be formally inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame during "The 37th Annual CMA Awards," airing live on the CBS Television Network on November 5, 2003.

Floyd Cramer

The sound of Country Music in the early 1960s was changing and the piano played a pivotal role. And Floyd Cramer was Middle C shouldering most of the responsibility and progressive licks. He popularized the "slip-note" technique and won acclaim for his discriminating ear -- as much for the notes he skipped as the ones he played.

Born Oct. 27, 1933 near Shreveport, La., Cramer grew up in the sawmill town of Huttig, Ark. A self-taught piano player, he landed a job fresh out of high school in 1951 on the renowned "The Louisiana Hayride" on Shreveport's radio station KWKH, where he performed with a young Elvis Presley and Hank Williams Sr. He honed a style he referred to as a "plinking honky-tonk-type piano" and played that way on Jim Reeves' "Mexican Joe."

Cramer made his first record for Abbott Records in 1953. On the advice of Chet Atkins, Cramer moved to Nashville in 1955. Within two years, Cramer recalled that he was in "day and night" doing session work. There were many artists who wouldn't record unless Cramer was at the keys. In addition to recording with Presley and Patsy Cline, Cramer played for Eddy Arnold, Roy Orbison and The Everly Brothers.

Atkins signed Cramer to RCA Records in the late '50s as an instrumental act. Four singles into his deal, Cramer gained his first chart hit with "Last Date" (1960-1961), Atkins had encouraged him to write the song to spotlight the style Cramer incorporated on Hank Locklin's recording of "Please Help Me, I'm Falling" in 1960. In the demo, composer Don Robertson played piano sliding up into a note from the one beneath, and that was the slur technique Cramer used to develop his signature style -- a cornerstone of what would be known as the "Nashville Sound."

Cramer's biggest single came in 1961 with his No. 8 Country rendition of the Bob Wills classic "San Antonio Rose." By mid-decade, Cramer was established as an album act, recording prolifically for RCA Records while working recording sessions at a furious pace. He also toured in an act he formed with saxophonist Boots Randolph and Atkins. He continued to do sessions, play occasional concerts and make television-marketed albums until he was diagnosed with the cancer that eventually took his life at the age of 64 on Dec. 31, 1997. Cramer left behind his longtime wife Mary and two daughters

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