Roddis Franklin Drake
* 08. Okt. 1932 in Atlanta, Georgia
† 29. Juli 1988
Instr.: Steel Guitar, Dobro, Gitarre
Drake was born in Augusta, Georgia, the son of a Pentecostal preacher, in 1932. In 1950, he drove to Nashville, heard Jerry Byrd on the Grand Ole Opry, and was inspired to buy a steel guitar. He organized a band, Sons of the South, in Atlanta in the 1950s, which included future country stars like Jerry Reed, Doug Kershaw, Roger Miller, Jack Greene, and Joe South.
In 1959 he moved to Nashville and went on the road as a backup musician for Don Gibson, Marty Robbins and others. In 1964 he had an international hit on Smash Records with his "talking steel guitar" playing on the album Forever. The resultant single, "Forever," reached #22 in the Billboard Hot 100, eventually sold over one million copies, and was awarded a gold disc. His innovative use of what would be called the talk box, later used by Peter Frampton, Joe Walsh and Jeff Beck, added novel effects to the pedal steel guitar. The album Pete Drake and His Talking Steel Guitar, harkened back to the sounds of Alvino Rey and his wife Luise King, who first modulated a guitar tone with the signal from a throat microphone in 1939. The unique sound of the talk box with a steel guitar was new in the 1960s, and it made the sounds of vocalizing along with the strings of the steel guitar. According to an interview of Drake:
Drake played on Bob Dylan's three Nashville-recorded albums, including Nashville Skyline, and on Joan Baez's David's Album. He also worked with George Harrison on All Things Must Pass, and with Ringo Starr on Beaucoups of Blues in 1970.
Drake produced albums for many other musicians, and founded Stop Records and First Generation Records. He was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame's Walkway of Stars in 1970 and the Steel Guitar Hall of Fame in 1987.
Developing emphysema after 40 years of smoking, Pete's health started declining in 1985, the Drake's built a recording studio in their home in Brentwood, Tennessee where he continued to work everyday until he lost his long battle on July 29, 1988 at the age of 56. He is buried in Spring Hill Cemetery, Tennessee, inscription reads "His Courage, His Smile, His Talent and His Love, Warms Our Hearts." His headstone is inscribed "For Pete's Sake."