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Floyd Cramer dies at 64
 
 

                 Born: 10/27/33
                 Died: 12/31/97

                 NASHVILLE, Tenn. - Floyd Cramer, who played piano on Elvis
                 Presley's Heartbreak Hotel and popularized the distinctive "slip note"
                 style on instrumental hits such as Last Date, died early Wednesday. He
                 was 64.

                 Cramer was diagnosed with cancer six months ago, said his longtime
                 manager, Gerald Purcell.

                 He recorded more than 50 solo albums and in 1960 had his own hit,
                 Last Date, which became an instrumental classic.

                 Along with Chet Atkins, Boots Randolph and Owen Bradley, Cramer is
                 credited with helping create "The Nashville Sound" - smooth music,
                 sometimes called "countrypolitan," that helped lure pop audiences to
                 country music in the 1950s and 1960s.

                 He played a "bent note" or "slip note" style - hitting a note and almost
                 instantly sliding into the next - that influenced a generation of pianists.

                 His hits included San Antonio Rose, Fancy Pants and On the
                 Rebound.

                 Last Date was learned down through the years by thousands of young
                 piano students who weren't even born when Cramer wrote and
                 recorded it.

                 "It's a simple melody," Cramer told The Associated Press in 1989. "It's
                 good exercise for both hands. You are playing solid left hand patterns
                 and a dominant melody with the right hand. It's different and fresh to
                 most piano students."

                 Cramer was born near Shreveport, La., and grew up in the small
                 sawmill town of Huttig, Ark. He balked at piano lessons but learned to
                 play piano by ear at age 5.

                 After graduating from high school, he joined the cast of the Louisiana
                 Hayride country show in Shreveport. He began playing in Webb
                 Pierce's country band and doing session work with artists such as Jim
                 Reeves.

                 In 1955, he moved to Nashville and became one of the most
                 sought-after session musicians in town. He played on sessions by Roy
                 Orbison, the Everly Brothers, Patsy Cline and Perry Como, as well as
                 the historic 1955 recordings Presley made in his debut at RCA.

                 He recalled that Presley "was always nice to us. He enjoyed the
                 musicians and felt very comfortable."

                 Besides country and rock, Cramer played jazz, blues, gospel and light
                 classical.

                 "Music is emotion, mood, regardless of what you name it," he once
                 said. "I wouldn't want to be pigeonholed as playing only country or
                 pop."

                 In the late 1980s, most of his records were sold through TV ads rather
                 than at stores.

                 He told the AP in 1989 he didn't like to practice.

                 "Some call it practice. I call it play," he said. "That's because I enjoy it;
                 practice I don't enjoy."
 
 

 Copyright 1997 Associated Press. All rights reserved.
This material  may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
 
 
All Music Guide , Volume: 1 , # 1
 by David Vinopal
 
                            ~ Cub Koda

Pianist Floyd Cramer, Pioneer Of 'Nashville Sound,' Dies at 64
 

                 NASHVILLE, Tenn. (Reuters) - Country music pianist
                 Floyd Cramer, whose distinctively smooth style was avidly
                 sought by singers ranging from Elvis Presley to Patsy Cline,
                 has died, his manager said Wednesday.

                 Cramer, who had been diagnosed with cancer, was 64 and
                 died at his home in Nashville, according to manager Gerard Purcell.
                 The self-taught Cramer helped develop the ``Nashville
                 Sound'' that carried country music to a wider audience and
                 had the nation's most popular singers demanding his presence
                 in the recording studio and on the bandstand.

                 ``There were a lot of artists who would not record unless he
                 was the pianist,'' Purcell said by telephone from New York.
                 Besides recording with Presley and Cline, Cramer played for
                 Eddy Arnold, Roy Orbison and The Everly Brothers.
                 They wanted Cramer because of his distinctive fingering style
                 that featured ``bent'' or ``slip notes'' where one note blended
                 with the next, making the melody shine in a different way than
                 when played by more percussive pianists.

                 ``He had a flow to his piano playing. He was very interested
                 in the rythym of the song, and he wanted the melody to be
                 heard distinctly,'' Purcell said. ``Not surprisingly, (the slip
                 note style) spread very quickly because it made listening,
                 especially on romantic ballads, very palatable.''
                 Cramer recorded some 50 albums, many with his own songs
                 that included such hits as ``Lovin' Season,'' ``Last Date,'' and
                 ''The Young and the Restless.''

                 He won a Grammy Award in 1979 for best country
                 instrumental for the song, ``My Blue Eyes.''
                 Cramer taught himself to play piano while growing up in
                 Huttig, Ark., which he left after graduating from high school
                 to join the ``Louisiana Hay Ride'' radio program in
                 Shreveport, La. There he played with the young Presley,
                 Hank Williams Sr., and others.

                 In 1955, he moved to the country music capital of Nashville
                 and funded college music scholarships for around 200
                 students at East Tennesee State University.
                 ``He never felt that the piano should be the outstanding
                 instrument in the band,'' Purcell said. ``He didn't bang the
                 piano. He had that style that blended.''

                 Cramer leaves his longtime wife Mary and two daughters.

 Reuters/Variety
 (31 Dec 1997 16:26 EST)

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