Steel guitar player Ralph Mooney died March 21 from complications of cancer at his home in Kennedale, Texas as the age of 82.
He was born RalphMooney on September 16, 1928 in Duncan, Oklahoma. While known best for playing the steel guitar, Mooney also played guitar, mandolin, fiddle, and a flat top guitar. Mooney used a knife for a slide on his flat top and later built his own steel guitar. His first foray into playing for a band was with Skeets McDonald.
Mooney lent his pioneering sound to the music of, , , , , , Jessi Colter, and . He was a pioneer in the musical style that became known as the Bakersfield Sound. Mooney spent 20 years playing in Jennings’ band. One of Mooney’s last contributions to music was playing on four songs of the Grammy Award winning album “Ghost : The Studio B Sessions” by Marty Stuart.
Mooney wrote the 1956 number one hit song “Crazy Arms” withSeals. Mooney once said that he would have starved if it hadn’t been for the royalty checks from “Crazy Arms”.
Shooter Jennings, the son of country legend Waylon Jennings said of Mooney, “he was a pioneer and a visionary. He coveted his instrument and ultimately improved it. I feel he was one of the last keys to the old ‘outlaw’ sound and now it’s gone forever.”
Mooney has been awarded the Academy of Country Music steel guitarist of the year and is a member of the Steel Guitar Hall of Fame. His Hall of Fame plaque states, “so uniquely original that he remains unduplicated.”
Mooney is survived by his wife of 62 years Wanda, children Richard and Linda, four grandchildren, and two great grandchildren.