b. Winnsboro, Louisiana, December 28, 1933; d. September 12, 2004
Fred Carter Jr. began his career in northeastern Louisiana playing rock & roll. He backed Dale Hawkins, known for his rock hit “Susie-Q,” and later played with Ronnie Hawkins, Dale’s cousin, in his backing group, the Hawks. Carter left and was replaced by Robbie Robertson before the group evolved into the Band.
Carter played on the Louisiana Hayride in Shreveport, Louisiana, in the mid-1950s, before moving with fellow guitarist James Burton to Los Angeles, where both appeared on the TV program Town Hall Party.
When Carter landed in Nashville, in 1961, he became the first top Nashville session guitarist to specialize on the Fender Telecaster electric guitar—and proved just as outstanding on acoustic and twelve-string guitar. He also released several singles as a vocalist, and he had success as a songwriter.
After touring as guitarist for Roy Orbison and Conway Twitty, Carter settled into a career as a renowned studio player. His rock and folk work included sessions for Joan Baez, John Stewart, Levon Helm, and Muddy Waters. Carter became a particular favorite of Simon & Garfunkel, who often flew him to New York to play on their sessions there. He also contributed to classic country hits by George Jones, Waylon Jennings, Dolly Parton, and John Anderson. Carter is the father of country singer-songwriter Deana Carter.
Listen to Fred Carter Jr.
Simon & Garfunkel, “The Boxer” (Paul Simon)
Among the musicians featured on this recording are Fred Carter Jr., electric guitar, acoustic guitar, and fretted dobro; Paul Simon, guitar; Charlie McCoy, bass harmonica; Hal Blaine, drums.
From the album Bridge Over Troubled Water, 1970. Produced by Roy Halee, Paul Simon, and Art Garfunkel, Nashville and New York.
John Stewart, “Shackles and Chains” (John Stewart)
Among the musicians featured on this recording are Fred Carter Jr., dobro; Kelso Herston, guitar; Lloyd Green, pedal steel guitar; Norbert Putnam, bass; Kenny Buttrey, drums.
From the album California Bloodlines, 1969. Produced by Nik Venet at RCA Studio A, Nashville.
Ian & Sylvia, “This Wheel’s on Fire” (Bob Dylan, Rick Danko)
The musicians featured on this recording are Fred Carter Jr., electric guitar; David Rea, guitar; Ian Tyson, guitar; Bob Moore, bass; Kenny Buttrey, drums.
From the album Nashville, 1968. Produced by Ian Tyson, Nashville.
Fred Neil, “Other Side of This Life” (Fred Neil)
Among the musicians featured on this recording are Fred Carter Jr., fretted dobro; Fred Neil, twelve-string guitar; Lloyd Green, pedal steel guitar; Norbert Putnam, bass.
Produced in 1969 by Nik Venet at RCA Studio A, Nashville. The recording remained unreleased until 1998.
Ronnie Hawkins, “Baby Jean” (Ronnie Hawkins, Levon Helm)
Among the musicians featured on this recording are Fred Carter Jr., electric guitar; Luke Paulman, rhythm guitar; Jimmy Evans, bass; Levon Helm, drums.
From the album Mr. Dynamo, 1959. Recorded at Bell Sound, New York.
Johnny Darrell, “Why You Been Gone So Long” (Mickey Newbury)
Among the musicians featured on this recording is Fred Carter Jr., electric guitar.
From the album Why You Been Gone So Long, 1969. Produced by Bob Montgomery, Nashville.