Hawaiian Enchantment – Lloyd Green
Lloyd L. Green, 4 October 1937, Mississippi, USA. Green’s family moved to Mobile, Alabama, when he was four years old and he was raised there. He learned Hawaiian string guitar from the age of seven and graduated to steel guitar. He was playing professionally by the time he was 10, and recalls, ‘I played in clubs a couple of nights a week with a rhythm guitarist called Emmanuel Abates, who was also a yo-yo champion. He wasn’t a very good guitarist and eventually he went back to his yo-yos.’ Green studied psychology at the University of Southern Mississippi, but he left at the age of 19 to seek fame in Nashville. In December 1956 he joined Faron Young’s road band and stayed for 18 months. During that time, he played steel guitar on his first session, George Jones’ ‘Too Much Water Runs Under The Bridge’. He returned to Mobile and later came back to Nashville as a shoe salesman. When he told one customer that he could not afford $75 to renew his union card, she renewed it for him – she was the widow of the publisher Fred Rose.
The first successful session on which Green played was Warner Mack’s ‘The Bridge Washed Out’ in 1965. For the next 15 years, ‘the steelworker’ averaged 400 sessions a year, which included ‘It’s Four In The Morning’ (Faron Young), ‘Easy Lovin’’ (Freddie Hart) and the Byrds’ seminal country rock album, Sweetheart Of The Rodeo. He says, ‘ Bob Dylan had hinted and flirted with the steel guitar before the Byrds, but he’d only let Pete Drake colour the songs very lightly. ‘You Ain’t Goin’ Nowhere’ took a whole day to record, which was a whole new revolution for me. I was used to sessions that were highly organized and where everyone was clock-watching.’ He also played on Paul McCartney’s ‘Sally G’ but turned down a US tour because he did not want to lose work in Nashville.
Green made several solo records, mostly easy-listening country music, although his technique is skilfully demonstrated on ‘I Can See Clearly Now’. He popularized the blocking technique, used by Jimmy Day in the 50s, whereby the palm of the picking hand is used to mute the strings in order to lose the ringing effect. Green, who was not a solo attraction in the USA, made successful appearances at the Wembley Country Music Festival and his 1979 three-week UK tour with Billie Jo Spears was the longest he had been away from Nashville since 1964. He also worked in the UK with his fellow session musicians Charlie McCoy and Pig Robbins. He says, ‘It’s laughable when I read of Nashville session men getting together after hours and having a jam session. We play enough music in the studio. We’d rather get drunk and have a good time.’ In 1988 Green was inducted into the Steel Guitar Hall of Fame.