Buddy Harman, one of Nashville's outstanding session drummers, has played his solid, driving beat on over 18,000 recording sessions in the last 40 years.
Harman, along with only a handful of top musicians, is recognized by the Hall of Fame for creating the "Nashville Sound." This unique musical sound helped Nashville to become known as one of the top music meccas in the world.
Besides being acknowledged by the country music community, Buddy Harman is recognized for contributing to the rock-and-roll era with his performance on many recordings including the Everly Brothers' "Cathy's Clown" and being a mainstay on Elvis Presley's soundtrack recordings both in Nashville and Los Angeles. He also played on many recordings by Roy Orbison and Jerry Lee Lewis.
Harman has played drums on countless records with a variety of recording artists that reads like a page out of "Who's Who." These artists include: Elvis Presley, Patsy Cline, Dolly Parton, Brenda Lee, Tammy Wynette, Loretta Lynn, Roy Orbison, Connie Francis, Chet Atkins, Marty Robbins, Willie Nelson, Waylon Jennings, Lynn Anderson, George Jones, Kenny Rogers, Perry Como, Merle Haggard, Charlie Rich, Roger Miller, Jimmy Dean, Simon & Garfunkel, Ann Margret, Nancy Sinatra, O.C. Smith, George Burns, Reba McEntire and many others.
Besides being the first staff drummer on the Grand Old Opry, some of Harman's accolades include: "Drummer of the Year" in 1981 from the Academy of Country Music, "Super Picker" award for drums on the most #1 recordings from the Nashville NARAS chapter in 1975 and 1976, and the Nashville Super Picker nomination for "Best Country Instrumental Performance" in 1979 for the Live From Austin City Limits album.
"One of the highlights of my career was having the privilege of performing for four of our nation's presidents," Harman says. These presidents were John F. Kennedy, Gerald Ford, Jimmy Carter and Ronald Reagan.
Buddy Harman, an accomplished musician, exemplifies the qualities of a true professional in the recording business.
Harman has played on some of the biggest hits of Opry stars: Charlie Walker, Billy Walker, Jeannie Seeley, Hank Snow, Jim & Jesse, Roy Acuff, Roy Clark, Justin Tubb, Roy Drusky, The Carlisles, Mac Wiseman, Skeeter Davis, Vic Willis Trio, Wilburn Brothers, Jimmy Dickens, Osborne Brothers, Louvin Brothers, Jim Ed Brown, Wilma Lee & Stoney Cooper, Ray Pillow, Jimmy C. Newman, Jack Greene, Del Reeves, Johnny Russell, Stonewall Jackson, Porter Wagoner and Bill Anderson. He has played on numerous jingles, TV and radio shows and movie soundtracks.
Harman has played on several European Tours with various artists including The Nashville Superpicker Band and Jerry Lee Lewis.
As of May 1991, Harman is again the staff drummer at the Grand Ole Opry, in Nashville, Tennessee.
August 21, 2008: Buddy Harman, 79, Legendary Nashville Drummer, Is Dead
The New York Times - by BILL FRISKICS-WARREN - Published: August 22, 2008
Buddy Harman, a profilic and influential drummer whose rhythmic signature can be heard on thousands of recordings by the likes of Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash, Patsy Cline and Simon and Garfunkel, died on Thursday at his home in Nashville. He was 79.
He had been suffering from congestive heart failure, said his daughter Summer Harman, who confirmed his death.
Mr. Harman played on an estimated 18,000 recordings, many of them major hits, in a career of more than five decades. He worked most sessions with the celebrated “A Team” of studio musicians who shaped the Nashville Sound of the 1950s and ’60s, performing on Cash’s “Ring of Fire,” Roger Miller’s “King of the Road” and Tammy Wynette’s “Stand by Your Man,” along with scores of hits by Loretta Lynn, George Jones, Dolly Parton, Ray Price and others.
Mr. Harman also made his mark on the pop charts, making distinctive contributions to records like the Everly Brothers’ “Bye Bye Love,” Presley’s “Little Sister,” Simon and Garfunkel’s “Boxer” (as a percussionist) and Brenda Lee’s “Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree.” He played bass, not drums on Ringo Starr’s 1970 country album, “Beaucoups of Blues.”
Versatility and imagination were among Mr. Harman’s great strengths as a musician. He could play everything from big-beat rock ’n’ roll, as demonstrated by his pile-driving 4/4 on Roy Orbison’s “Oh, Pretty Woman,” to intimate cocktail jazz, as heard on his empathetic brushwork on Cline’s “Crazy.”
Drums were not commonly used in country music when Mr. Harman started working sessions in Nashville in the early 1950s. Later that decade, when he became the first house drummer for the Grand Ole Opry, he had to play behind a curtain because drums were not allowed on the show’s stage at the time. Before long, though, Mr. Harman had established his instrument as an integral voice in modern country music.
Murrey Mizell Harman Jr. was born Dec. 23, 1928, in Nashville. His mother, who played drums in the family band, was an early musical inspiration, along with jazz players like Gene Krupa and Buddy Rich.
Mr. Harman began drumming while in his early teens and went on to perform in bands while serving in the Navy. Later, after two years of college in Nashville, he enrolled in the Roy Knapp School of Percussion in Chicago. On returning to Nashville in 1952 he played in the band of Carl Smith, a future member of the Country Music Hall of Fame, and began doing studio work. By the mid-’50s, Mr. Harman had become the first-call drummer for recording sessions that were being booked on what became known as Nashville’s Music Row.
He was less active in the studio as the 1970s gave way to the ’80s. He eventually resumed work at the Opry, while also serving as the business agent for the Nashville chapter of the American Federation of Musicians.
Besides his daughter Summer, of Mount Juliet, Tenn., Mr. Harman is survived by his wife of more than 40 years, Marsha Harman; his sons Mark, of Franklin, Tenn., and Stanley and Murrey M. III, both of Nashville; another daughter, Autumn, also of Nashville; six grandchildren; and four great-grandchildren. Another son, Richard, died in 2007.
“I just went into Dad’s room,” Summer Harman said in a telephone conversation in June, when her father’s health had been declining, “and he was playing drums in his sleep. He had a smile on his face and was tapping on his chest.”
...played on over 18, 000 sessions
- the most recorded drummer ever
The Everly Brothers
Country Joe McDonald
Billy "Crash" Craddock
Carl Dobkins, Jr.
Tom T. Hall
Homer & Jethro
Ian & Sylvia
Jim & Jesse
Jerry Lee Lewis
The Nashville All-Stars
The Statler Brothers
Merle Travis & Joe Maphis
.....and many more