Revered Country Musician Ray Edenton Dead at 95

Ray Edenton, the rhythm guitarist known to be a longtime member of Nashville's fabled A-Team, has died. Edenton passed away at his son Ray Q. Edenton's home in Goodlettsville, Tennessee on Wednesday, Sept. 21, his daughter, Ronda Hardcastle, confirmed, per The New York Times. He was 95. Edenton's cause of death was not disclosed.

Born in 1926, Edenton grew up near Mineral, Virginia, where his love of music started early. His grandfather was a fiddler and two older brothers were also musicians, and by the age of six, Edenton was playing guitar and performing with his two brothers and cousins at square dances in the area, according to WSMV4. After serving in the army during World War II, and following work with Joe Maphis at WRVA's Old Dominion Barn Dance in Richmond, Virginia and a brief relocation to WNOX in Knoxville, Edenton moved to Nashville in 1952, where his career in country music took off. Edenton would go on to become one of Nashville's most prolific studio musicians and a longtime member of Nashville's so-called A Team of first-call studio professionals.

In total, his body of work is estimated to exceed 10,000 sessions, with his first session having been with country singer Red Kirk when he recorded "Lovesick Blues" for Mercury Records in 1949. He went on to play on "There Stands the Glass" by Webb Pierce in 1953 and "One By One," a 1954 duet by Kitty Wells and Red Foley. His guitar work was later featured on Patsy Cline's "Sweet Dreams," Webb Pierce's "There Stands the Glass," Kenny Rogers's "The Gambler," Roger Miller's "King of the Road," and Loretta Lynn's "You Ain't Woman Enough." In addition to guitar, he also played mandolin, bass, banjo and ukulele, and he appeared on records by more than 50 Country Music Hall of Fame members. He was inducted into the Musicians Hall of Fame in 2007.

"Nashville's musical legacy is elevated by Ray Edenton's rock-solid, highly inventive rhythm guitar," Kyle Young, CEO of the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum, said of Edenton. "He developed new guitar tunings to create sounds that had not been heard before, and he played guitar parts that enhanced famed recordings including the Everly Brothers' 'Bye Bye Love' and 'Wake Up Little Susie,' Roger Miller's 'King of the Road,' Webb Pierce's 'There Stands the Glass,' Marty Robbins's 'Singing the Blues,' and Neil Young's Nashville-produced album Comes a Time. He was a significant factor in more than 10,000 recording sessions. In 2007, the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum honored him as a 'Nashville Cat,' a designation that celebrates musicians of great consequence. Ray is one of the many hidden heroes of Music City, and the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum was always eager to shine a light on his virtuosity and ingenuity."


Edenton retired in 1991 at the age of 65. He is survived by his daughter and son, as well as Polly Roper Edenton, his wife of almost 50 years.