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Nashville producer/guitarist: Jerry Kennedy

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JJ Rocks Article # 149:  Nashville producer/guitarist: Jerry Kennedy
It was a brisk autumn afternoon just south of Nashville when Dorothy and I had the opportunity of a lifetime to meet a true legend in the music industry. And when our friend Joe Mansfield (another music legend) told us that morning that we were going to have lunch with a famous producer and studio guitarist, I could feel butterflies in my stomach. At that time I wasnt familiar with his name. But after that day my musical life was not only uplifted by his inspiration, but I also felt that we had a new friend that didnt let the walls of fame cast a shadow on his down to earth personality. His name is Jerry Kennedy and it is a true honor to write about him.

I had no idea of how much Jerry had accomplished in his lifetime. And even while we were talking at lunch I never knew that some of my favorite guitar lick intros (Pretty Woman by Roy Orbison, Stand by your Man by Tammy Wynette, and many more) were played by Jerry Kennedy. When I think back to all the gigs where I played those songs I get goose bumps knowing that I now know the man who first played them. But that is just the tip of the iceberg. Once you read about his astonishing career you just might find your jaw dropping as you say wow!

Ill never forget when Joe Mansfield said is there anything that you want to ask Jerry? All I could think of was asking about the rumors that were going around about guitarist Hank Garland and the basis of the new movie Crazy which is supposed to be based on his life and tragedies. And when I got to the question about the myth of the Nashville record companies turning against Hank, Jerry said The record companies loved Hank. I was definitely convinced and now will view the movie as partly fictional.

Jerry even asked me about what kind of guitar I picked on and told me about his first Telecaster that cost him under $150.00 that he purchased from a vendor back in the days of the Louisiana Hayride where he was a staff guitarist. As soon as he started to talk about guitars the butterflies were all gone.

I have been searching on the web for more information about this great man and I was blown away by what I found! My only problem is trying to condense a lifetime of achievements into one article. So Im going to give you just some of the highlights on a man who helped to define not only what country and pop music is, but also the meaning of a true studio guitarist legend and successful producer.

Jerry Glenn Kennedy was born on August 10th, 1940 in Caddo Parish, Shreveport, Louisiana. In the early 60s he was a session guitarist for some of the greatest artists to ever come out of Nashville. Even Elvis Presley used Jerrys great guitar work on some of his recordings including one of my favorites Good Luck Charm. And guitar wasnt the only instrument that Jerry Kennedy played on uncountable sessions. He also played Dobro on many recordings including Harper Valley PTA.

As a producer Jerry has become a household name in the music industry. He has produced so many great acts (including over 40 albums for The Statler Brothers) that it would be hard to print them all without filling up these paragraphs.  I posted the covers of some of the albums that he has contributed to ether as a producer, guitarist, or both in the photo section on his profile here on the site. Looking at these records is like a stroll through music history.

But before you look at Jerrys incredible track record on these recordings you must know that he was also the vice president of the country music division of Mercury records where he has launched many great careers. Even when the rock and roll days of Jerry Lee Lewis were coming to an end, it was Jerry Kennedy who put him back on the charts with several country smash hits!

Jerry Kennedy is without a doubt one of the worlds greatest music achievers. And just knowing that he doesnt carry himself like someone who is above the everyday person, and feeling his genuine friendship gives me even more faith in the people who are at the top of the music industry. Hopefully this will be felt by the many independent musicians from around the world who read our magazine and give them hope when it comes to being noticed by the powers that be. Many of them are real, honest, and loving people like yourselves and only want to help you with your musical dreams if you have the right stuff. Just keep your fingers crossed that you are noticed by someone who is the real deal like Jerry Kennedy.

So please take a few moments to check out some of Jerrys work in his profile here on The Spotlight Zone. And if you are interested in more of Jerrys musical contributions and achievements, just go on line and type in Jerry Kennedy (Nashville) or go to his photo section at the link below. You might want to have lunch first because the rest of your afternoon will be spent reading.

JJ Rocks - The Spotlight Zone

Here is a link to some of Jerry accomplishments: