Steel Guitar Player Hughey Dies

John Hughey, a steel guitar player who toured for years with country legend Conway Twitty and recorded with Elvis Presley and many other stars, has died. He was 73.

Hughey died Sunday night, according to a statement from his publicist. The Tennessean reported that he died of heart complications.

The Elaine, Ark., native was credited with developing a unique style of playing that focused on the instrument’s high tones, resulting in a distinctive “crying sound.”

He started playing professionally in the early 1950s with a Memphis-based band, Slim Rhodes and The Mother’s Best Mountaineers, before playing for about 20 years with Twitty, whose was a school mate from when his family lived in Horn Lake, Miss.

Hughey later recorded songs with Presley, Loretta Lynn, Marty Stuart, Willie Nelson, Dickey Betts of The Allman Brothers and others. He recorded and toured with star Vince Gill for about 12 years.

“He gave my music definition,” Gill told the newspaper. “His introduction to ‘Look At Us’ makes that song recognizable by what happens before any words even get sung.”

He still played live regularly with The Time Jumpers, a Western swing band composed of top Nashville session players.

“This is a pure heartbreaker,” said Stuart, who had Hughey play on his 1992 album “This One’s Gonna Hurt You.” “John was a top-drawer statesmen who helped define the whole 20th century sound of country music. The work he leaves behind is timeless.”

Hughey is survived by his wife of 45 years, Jean, a daughter, four brothers and four sisters.

A visitation was scheduled for Tuesday at Hendersonville Funeral Home, with a funeral on Wednesday at Hendersonville First Baptist Church.