Noted musician, producer Pete Drake dies

NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- Steel guitar master and producer Pete Drake, who won awards for his music with artists ranging from Bob Dylan, George Harrison and Ringo Starr to Elvis Presley and George Jones, died during the weekend. He was 55.

Drake, who played on 118 Gold and Platinum albums in his career, died in his Brentwood home Friday night of complications from lung disease. Funeral services were scheduled for Monday.


Drake, who originated the 'talking' steel guitar style, won music industry honors ranging from Grammy and Dove awards to a Cash Box magazine instrumentalrd. Just last year, the Nashville Entertainment Association presented Drake with its Master Award.

In his shift from performer to producer, Drake created a media sensation in 1970 when he brought Ringo Starr to Nashville to record the album 'Beaucoups of Blues.' Starr was the first Beatle to record in the United States.

When Drake recorded with Bob Dylan on three albums from 1968 through 1970 and on George Harrison's 1970 'All Things Must Pass/My Sweet Lord' sessions, he was regarded as a pioneer in bringing the pedal steel guitar into favor with pop musicians worldwide.

Starr, B.J. Thomas, Slim Whitman, Boxcar Willie and Earnest Tubb all had albums produced by Drake. His instrumental expertise was employed by Dylan, Harrison, Roger Miller, Elvis Presley, Kenny Rogers, George Jones, Joan Baez and the Oak Ridge Boys.


Born Roddis Franklin Drake in Atlanta on Oct. 8, 1932, he moved to Nashville in 1959 after gaining a following in Georgia as a bandleader and steel guitarist.

In the 1960s, Drake became a cornerstone session player in the creation of the 'Nashville Sound.' His unique style was heard on many million-selling instrumental hits, such as 1964's 'Forever.'

He also was a regular sideman on the Grand Ole Opry and was inducted into the Walkway of Stars at the Country Music Hall of Fame in 1970.

Drake's funeral is scheduled at 2 p.m. Monday with burial to follow at Spring Hill Cemetery.

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