Tom Brumley, R.I.P.

Feb 6th, 2009 // 1 Comment

Legendary steel guitar player Tom Brumley passed away Tuesday after a heart attack. The son of Albert E. Brumley, who wrote the classic spiritual “I’ll Fly Away”, Brumley’s clean style made him a hero within the steel guitar community.



If you enjoy steel guitar, it’s hard not to love Brumley, who spent nearly a decade in Buck Owens’ Buckaroos popularizing the Bakersfield country sound on such hits as “Act Naturally” and “I’ve Got A Tiger By The Tail.” After leaving Owens’ band, Brumley spend a decade with Rick Nelson’s Stone Canyon Band, including performing on the 1972 single “Garden Party.” Brumley then spent 1989 to 2003 as a staple in Branson, performing with with his sons in a steel guitar showcase. Outside of his regular gigs, Brumley was still a highly sought-after session player, performing on tracks by Rod Stewart, Waylon Jennings, Chris Isaak, Robbie Fulks, and Jonathan Richman.

Buck Owens, “Love’s Gonna Live Here”:

Don Rich and the Buckaroos, “Wham Bam”:

Jonathan Richman, “Since She Started To Ride”:

Brumley was 73.


Tom Brumley dies at 73; steel guitarist for Buck Owens and Rick Nelson
[LA Times]
[Photo via TomBrumley.com]

  1. cheesebubble

    Tom Brumley might not be a household name but you’ve certainly heard him play. Over the years, he added his signature sound to a ton of big name stars’ recordings (you did a good job mentioning many of the artists that he recorded with and I want to add Dwight Yoakam to the list). Mr. Brumley’s contributions to Buck Owens’ output, alone, are significant. I’ve read that only one member of the Buckaroos’ “classic” lineup remains now – drummer Willie Cantu.

    Although an incomplete version of the song, there’s a nice closeup of Tom soloing at 1:40 in this 1972 live version of Rick Nelson’s “Garden Party” (a song which Tom said was a highlight of his recording career):

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