Legendary Session Guitarist Reggie Young Dies
Reggie Young, a guitarist who was part of the group of session musicians known as the "Memphis Boys," has died. He was 82.
His death at his home outside Nashville last night was confirmed to the Commercial Appeal by family, friends and colleagues. The cause of death was not given.
Born on Dec. 12, 1936, Reggie Young moved with his family to Memphis from Arkansas in his early teens. He was given a guitar by his father when he was 14 and gravitated toward the blues, country and the gypsy swing of Django Reinhardt. By the age of 15, he was playing professionally with rockabilly's Eddie Bond and the Stompers. By 1959, he was doing studio work for Willie Mitchell at Hi Records, notably with Elvis Presley's bassist Bill Black, whose combo Young played with until Black's death in 1965.
Soon after, he was recruited by another Memphis studio owner, Chips Moman at American Sound, and became part of the house band known as the Memphis Boys. With Gene Chrisman, Tommy Cogbill, Mike Leech, Bobby Emmons and Bobby Wood, Young toed the blurred line among rock, country and soul on classics like the records Presley cut in the aftermath of his 1968 comeback ("Suspicious Minds," "In the Ghetto," "Gentle on My Mind"), Dusty Springfield's Dusty in Memphis, Neil Diamond's "Sweet Caroline" and James Carr's "Dark End of the Street." He also played the electric sitar heard on the Box Tops' "Cry Like a Baby" and B.J. Thomas' "Hooked on a Feeling."
“We thought it was normal,” Young said of their role in cutting more than 120 Top 40 hits. “But it was extraordinary. The talent of everybody combined contributed to the success.”
When American Sound closed in the early '70s, Young left Memphis, eventually landing in Nashville. He established himself there, working with with such legends as Willie Nelson ("Always on My Mind"), Waylon Jennings ("Pancho and Lefty") and contributing to the album the two country legends made with Johnny Cash and Kris Kristofferson as the Highwaymen and also toured with them.