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Guitarist and Producer Chip Young Dies at 76

Chip Young, a producer and guitarist renowned in Nashville circles for his work with Elvis Presley and a long list of other artists, has passed away at the age of 76.

Nashville Scene reports on Young’s death, which happened several weeks after he underwent triple-bypass surgery. His former son-in-law, singer/songwriter Bobby Bare Jr., delivered a passionate, concise eulogy, telling the Scene, “Chip was one of the best, hardest-working session picker/producer/engineers Nashville has ever seen. But he was even better at being a Granddad, family man and a Christian. His family will miss him dearly.”

Young, who can be seen sharing recollections from his distinguished career in the above video interview conducted by the NAMM Oral History Program, got his start with Presley in 1966, playing on Elvis’ Grammy-winning ‘How Great Thou Art’ gospel collection. He remained a studio fixture on and off for much of the rest of Presley’s recording career, surfacing for sessions that included ‘Clambake,’ ‘Guitar Man’ and another gospel Grammy winner, ‘He Touched Me.’

The Scene’s piece quotes a number of Nashville musicians saddened by Young’s passing, including country star Steve Wariner and power-pop cult hero Bill Lloyd, who called him “one of the nicest guys I’ve had the pleasure of meeting in this business.”

While never a household name in his own right, Young had a hand in countless recordings, both as a session player and a producer. He built his own studio, Young’un Sound, in the late ’60s, and played host to a lengthy series of hits that included bestselling records for Jimmy Buffett and Billy Swan. Still, as befitting a Southern gentleman, he never got too big for his britches; in a 2007 interview with Sound on Sound regarding Swan’s chart-topping ‘I Can Help,’ he joked about the financial futility of trying to make a living with a premium studio.

“Being in the studio business is not such a good thing,” warned Young. “Owning a studio is like owning a boat, except the hole is much bigger. When somebody once told me he was going to make a million dollars running a studio, I told him, ‘then you’d better start with three million.'”

Young’s modesty aside, his work proved influential for scores of younger artists, some of whom enlisted his services for sessions in recent years; one of his last gigs involved contributing guitar work to a My Morning Jacket cut recorded for a Shel Silverstein tribute album. Though his death leaves a void, his presence will continue to be felt.

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