Home Music therapy Country Hall of Famer Pianist Dies – Billboard

Country Hall of Famer Pianist Dies – Billboard


Hargus “Pig” Robbins, Country Music Hall of Fame member and renowned session pianist who performed with George Jones, Patsy Cline, Loretta Lynn and many others, has died. He was 84 years old.

Robbins died on Sunday, Jan. 30, the Country Music Hall of Fame confirmed.

In a statement from the Country Music Association, CEO Sarah Trahern wrote, “Hargus ‘Pig’ Robbins was a defining sound for much of Nashville’s historic music. His talent has spoken for itself throughout his decades-long career and his work as a session pianist with countless artists across all genres. Our thoughts are with his friends and family during this difficult time. »

Kyle Young, CEO of the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum, said, “Like all successful session musicians, Pig Robbins quickly adapted to any studio situation. He worked fast, perfection being less of a goal than a standard. And even though he could change his style on the fly to suit the singer and the song, his playing was still distinctive. Pig’s left hand on the piano joined with Bob Moore’s bass to create an unstoppable rhythmic force, while the fingers of his right hand flew like birds over the keys. Nashville’s top musicians have turned to Pig for guidance and inspiration.

Born in Spring City, Tennessee, Robbins said in a 2007 Nashville Cats interview that he “was about three years old when I stuck a knife in his eye”. The other eye had what was called a “sympathetic infection”, he said, and he lost his sight completely.

He attended the Tennessee School for the Blind, where he began taking piano lessons at age seven, learning by ear. “I figured in two or three weeks I’d play what I was hearing on the radio,” he joked, saying that at the time he was listening to “country, of course.”

He got his nickname in school. He loved playing in the old fire escapes and said “when I get out I’ll be really dirty from all that soot and stuff.” The school superintendent would tell him, “‘You’re as dirty as a little pig,'” he noted, “and the children would choose [it] got up and started calling me ‘Pig’.

He said the nickname never bothered him and he stuck.

At school, he was taught classical music, but he practiced the music of his choice without his teachers. Some of his early influences include Owen Bradley, Poppa John Gordy and Ray Charles.

Robbins’ outstanding performance as a session player came in 1959, on George Jones’ “White Lightning.” In the Nashville studio, he then worked on countless sessions with country stars. Notable credits would include “I Fall to Pieces” by Patsy Cline, “You’re Looking at Country” and “Coal Miner’s Daughter” by Loretta Lynn, “Coat of Many Colors” by Dolly Parton, “The Gambler” by Kenny Rogers and “Tammy Wynette”. DIVORCE” – to name just a few highlights.

Robbins was also the pianist for the Bob Dylan classic blonde on blondeduring the album’s Nashville sessions in 1966.

Beyond his countless contributions over the decades as a session player, Robbins also recorded a number of his own solo studio albums in the 60s and 70s.

The musician took a brief break in his career around the year 2000, due to illness.

“I was diagnosed with cancer in December 1999,” he recalls in the Nashville Cats interview, “and then I started taking chemo and it made my fingers numb – so I had to stop around April, I think it was, that year. After about a year, I felt a bit better and found I was going to live, so I thought I’d start trying to play again. The more I played, the more the feeling came back. It was kind of like therapy.”

He soon returned to performing on a number of albums, with one of his most recent credits being the release of Connie Smith in 2021, The cry of the heart.

From Robbins, longtime Smith collaborator said once“I love the depth and tone of his playing. The way he plays lifts me up, and I to feel more when Pig plays.

Robbins was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame in 2012. Among the various awards he has won, Robbins was named CMA Instrumentalist of the Year in 1976 and 2000, and he won a grammys for Best Country Instrumental Performance in 1978.