Leon Rhodes, one of the most famous Texas Troubadours,died on Saturday, December 9th.
Rhodes first joined Tubb's already hot band in 1960, putting a stop to a game of musical chairs that had been going on in the lead guitar spot. Steel guitar whiz Buddy Emmons was actually playing lead as a stopgap when Rhodes was hired. In relief, Emmons sat back at his main axe and the two men instantly established a superb level of sympathetic interplay, breezily tossing honky tonk and bebop licks back and forth as if they were fragrances for the listener to sniff on a spring morning. In a sense, though, the great Emmons was just a warm-up for Buddy Charleton, who joined the band on steel in 1962, consolidating a lineup that also included drummer Jack Greene and Cal Smith, who would later enjoy his own solo career. This is considered the ultimate version of the Texas Troubadours. In his late twenties when he climbed into Tubb's band, Rhodes already had a dozen years of professional experience behind him. He was considered a natural musician as a child and at 16 was on the staff band on the Big D Jamboree broadcast. In the '50s, his picking was an essential part of the sound of records by Ray Price, Lefty Frizzell, and other greats. He is said to have worked constantly, not only as a guitarist but also as a drummer and vocalist on the Dallas club scene
Played on dozens of great country albums by artists such as Willie Nelson, Waylon Jennings, Loretta Lynn, Reba McEntire, George Strait, and Jean Shepard.
It was also one of the pillars of the Grand Ole Opry House band, and the supporting band on the television show Hee-Haw for many years
RIP Leon Rhodes.