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Jimmy Bryant

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Jimmy Bryant (March 5, 1925 – September 22, 1980) was a prominent American session guitarist. He was billed as “The Fastest Guitar in the Country”.

Biography:

Ivy J. Bryant, Jr. was born in Moultrie, Georgia, the oldest of 12 children. During the Great Depression he played the fiddle on street corners to help the family buy food, pushed to do so by his father.

After being wounded in World War II, he began working seriously on his guitar playing, influenced heavily by Django Reinhardt. After the war, he returned to Moultrie then moved to Los Angeles county where he worked in Western films and played music in bars around L.A.’s Skid Row, where he met pioneering pedal steel guitarist Speedy West. West, who joined Cliffie Stone’s popular Hometown Jamboree local radio and TV show, suggested Bryant be hired when the show’s original guitarist departed. That gave Bryant access to Capitol Records since Stone was a Capitol artist and talent scout.

In 1950 Tex Williams heard Bryant’s dizzying jazz/country style and used him on his recording of “Wild Card”. In addition, Bryant and West played on the Tennessee Ernie Ford-Kay Starr hit “I’ll Never Be Free”, leading to both men being signed to Capitol as instrumentalists. Bryant and West became a team, able to play off each other and intuitively create brilliant instrumental synergy. That led to extensive work as session musicians in addition to making their own records.

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