Friday, November 25, 2016

Floyd Cramer Backed Elvis Presley On Piano

A busy man, especially with what he's doing, way up on top in the financial world, Henri Gann took time off in between plane flights to write me a piece from his iPhone. Thanks again Henri.

It's Halloween again in America ! With all the Rocky Horror news on the American election, I thought it's a good time to pause and listen to the soothing music of Floyd Cramer.

Recently I was waiting for a flight in the Cathay Marco Polo Lounge when I heard some soft piano music playing in the background. The song was Last Date, a hit by country music pianist Floyd Cramer. 
I found myself searching the Internet for information about Cramer and what I found surprised me. For one thing, I didn’t realize that Cramer had passed away almost twenty years ago. I also learned that he played for Elvis in the early days. 

Floyd Cramer was known for his signature piano style which included "out of key" notes or "slip style notes." These methods gave his music a lonesome, cowboy feeling. The style originated with Don Robertson and Chet Atkins but popularized by Cramer, who accompanied over a quarter of Nashville’s country music in the 60's. 
His emotional playing has had a meaningful impact on many other musicians. As singer Jimmy Dean once said, "No orator ever spoke more eloquently than Floyd Cramer speaks with eighty-eight keys."

Remarkably, Cramer was a self-taught. He went on accompany Elvis and his band in the 50's, which included the legendary Scotty Moore, Bill Black, and Fontana, and The Jordanaires. As he recounted, " Generally we would start recording about 6 pm and then we would work until the sun came up when we would send out for Elvis... favorite KFC."

When Floyd left Elvis to pursue his own career, as stated later on in his memoir, "I had placed myself in an unenviable position to many." 

You can hear Cramer’s piano accompaniment on Elvis’s “Judy” and “Puppet on a String.” You can even hear him in the background of “Heartbreak Hotel,” “Don’t Leave Me Now,” and “Don’t Be Cruel.” 

Beyond his work with Elvis, Cramer and his accompaniment had a big impact on other hits from the 60's. You can listen to this distinctive style on Hank Locklin's “Please Help Me I am Fallin’,” on Jim Reeves' “Four Walls,” on Brown’s “Three Bells,” and on Patsy Cline's unforgettable, “Crazy.” 
What would Roy Orbison’s “Only the Lonely,” The Everly Brothers, “Till I Kissed You,” or even Brenda Lee’s, “I Am Sorry” be without Floyd Cramer’s sweet piano accompaniment !

When Cramer pursued an independent career, he succeeded in composing and performing the billboard hits like the Last Date, On the Rebound, and San Antonio Rose. All in all he had recorded more than fifty solo albums. Floyd had hits all the way up until the 80's, when he composed the theme song for the wildly popular television show, Dallas.
My personal interest in Floyd Cramer goes back to my days playing lead guitar for the Trekkers in the 60's in Singapore. I was influenced by my brother's extensive country collection, and I would find myself listening for Floyd's piano notes whenever he had a record playing. 

The Trekkers even played their own guitar version of Floyd Cramer's, On the Rebound, which had a broadcast in one of Rediffusion Discovery Series Shows recorded at the Odeon Theater.

I was fortunate to witness one of Floyd Cramer's last performances in Los Angeles in the early 1990's. I took my whole family to see the country great at the local Pasadena Ambassador College Country Series.

Floyd Cramer was inducted into the Golden Metronome Nashville Country Music in 1974. He died of cancer in 1997 at the age of 64, and was posthumously inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame that same year and the Country Music Hall of Fame later on. His grandson Jason Coleman continues to play in his grandfather’s style: with lots of emotion and feeling.

Sent from my iPhone.
Images: Google; Henri Gann (right).
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Happy Birthday Andy ����!!!
Find a nice place for lunch and we'll go when I am in Singapore.

ANDY: Pop Music Not Pills. © said...

Henri writes from L.A. California and has been contributing for some time. An ardent Clinton fan, he now owes me US$10 for losing the big bet we had over the POTUS campaign.

He's going to use the money to buy me the lunch. But technically he still owes me the tenner. And he tells me Trump twists his words...

Thanks Henri.


This gorgeous tune put me back to the early 60s. Floyd's unique way of playing has always touched my heart. Even now after more than 50 years..... .

sauquoit13456 said...

On this day in 1960 {November 28th} "Last Date" by Floyd Cramer peaked at #2 {for 4 weeks} on Billboard's Hot Top 100 chart; it had entered the Top 100 on October 10th and spent 20 weeks on the chart.

And for the four weeks it spent at #2 the #1 record was Elvis' "Are You Lonesome Tonight"; and the piano player on that record was Floyd Cramer...

"Last Date" reached #3 on Billboard's R&B Singles chart and #11 on Billboard's Hot Country Singles chart...

R.I.P. Mr. Cramer {1933 - 1997} and to The King {1935 - 1977}.

chakap chakap said...

Song was recorded by: