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GUITARIST LEON RHODES TO BE SALUTED MARCH 8 AS NEXT NASHVILLE CAT AT THE COUNTRY MUSIC HALL OF FAME® AND MUSEUM

February 13, 2014 | Posted by CMHOF Staff

NASHVILLE, Tenn., February 13, 2014 - The Country Music Hall of Fame® and Museum's quarterly program series Nashville Cats: A Celebration of Music City Musicians returns on Saturday, March 8, with a salute to guitarist Leon Rhodes.  The 1:30 p.m. interview, held in the museum's Ford Theater, is included with museum admission and free to museum members. The program will be streamed live atcountrymusichalloffame.org/streaming.

Hosted by Bill Lloyd, the program will include a brief performance and an in-depth, one-on-one interview illustrated with vintage recordings, photos and film clips from the museum's Frist Library and Archive and Rhodes' private collection.  Seating for the program is limited, and program passes are required for admittance.  Immediately following, Rhodes will sign limited edition, commemorative Hatch Show Print®posters in the Museum Store. (Visit the museum's website for complete admission and signing details.)

Though a multi-instrumentalist, Leon Rhodes is best known for his lead guitar work. He was a member of the classic 1960s lineup of Ernest Tubb's Texas Troubadours and served long tenures as a staff musician for the Grand Ole Opry and Hee Haw. He is also featured on recordings by Julie Andrews, Roy Clark, John Denver, George Jones, Loretta Lynn, Roy Orbison and Dottie West, among others.  

Leon Rhodes was born March 10, 1932, and raised in Dallas, Texas. He grew up in a musical family, with his mother playing piano and his dad and brother playing guitar. Rhodes got his own guitar as a teenager and, at 16, landed his first professional gig at the Big D Jamboree.

Over the next several years, Rhodes began playing recording sessions-including some of Lefty Frizzell's earliest sessions. He also got a job in the house band at a night club owned by the infamous Jack Ruby.

In 1960, while playing at the Longhorn Ballroom in Dallas, Rhodes unwittingly auditioned for a spot in Ernest Tubb's band when band members Buddy Emmons and Jack Drake asked him to play one of the singer's songs. Rhodes made a good impression and earned an invitation to join the Texas Troubadours. It took some convincing, but he eventually moved to Nashville.

The early 1960s Troubadours lineup, which included Buddy Charleton on steel guitar, Jack Drake on bass, Jack Greene on drums, Rhodes on guitar and Cal Smith on rhythm guitar, became one of the best backing groups in country music. The band developed their own following, performing their own sets and releasing their own recordings with Decca in the mid-1960s. The group's recordings include "Honey Fingers," "Texas Troubadour Stomp" and jazz standards such as "C Jam Blues" and "Red Top."

Tubb and the Texas Troubadours played well over 200 shows a year. After nearly seven years, Rhodes decided to take a break from the road and devote his time to session work in Nashville. The week after he left the band, he was hired as a member of the staff band at the Grand Ole Opry, where he remained for more than three decades. In 1971, he began his 20 year run on Hee Haw. After his Opry tenure, Rhodes toured and performed with various country artists including Porter Wagoner and the Whites.

Today, Rhodes still lives in Nashville and continues to perform and record.

Accredited by the American Alliance of Museums, the Country Music Hall of Fame® and Museum is operated by the Country Music Foundation, a not-for-profit 501(c)(3) educational organization chartered by the state of Tennessee in 1964. The museum's mission is the preservation of the history of country and related vernacular music rooted in southern culture. With the same educational mission, the foundation also operates CMF Records, the museum's Frist Library and Archive, CMF Press, Historic RCA Studio B and Hatch Show Print®.

More information about the Country Music Hall of Fame® and Museum is available at countrymusichalloffame.org or by calling (615) 416-2001.