vocal once in a while, which I liked. Johnny’s
TV show was really something; being on TV
every week was great. That was a dream to
me. We did a lot of shows with other stars,
like George Jones and Waylon & Willie. I was
like a kid in a candy shop, getting to meet
a lot of these people. One of my dearest
friends was Tammy Wynette. It really hurt me
when she passed away.
they made a custom guitar for me that looked
and felt like a Tele, and I played that for the
longest time. I gave it to my older daughter
Scarlett, and Montana, my younger daughter,
has the Jazzmaster now. It’s been forty years
since we did that San Quentin album, and we
were going to do a return concert there to
celebrate, but it never happened. Too many
details and red tape, I guess.
Let’s talk about your equipment. What was
your first guitar?
Will you tell us about the Telecaster you’re
using onstage now?
It was an archtop Regal, and I bought a
Fender amp to go with it. I still have it. It’s
my prized possession.
It’s a black reissue of a vintage ‘ 57 or ‘ 58 Tele.
For what I do, the Tele is perfect for me.
A Fender Twin Reverb. I have always played
Twins and still do. The one I have now is
a reissue of the vintage models, but I still
have about five of the old ones. Over the
years, I’ve given some amps away. I gave my
dad and my brothers guitars. I had plenty
of them. You have to remember, we’re not
a loud band, so the Twin is perfect, even
though it can get very loud. People want to
hear the words and the stories behind the
songs, so we don’t kill them with volume.
I’m a rock player, but I play a Telecaster too,
a new one. You can’t kill them. I could throw
mine out the window and it would stay in
one piece and still play in tune.
Are you using any effects pedals either
onstage or in the studio? If so, what are they?
Onstage you play Telecasters, like so
many country guitarists. Have you always
No, I didn’t. Fender gave me a blue Jazzmaster
in 1968, and that’s the guitar I used on the At
San Quentin album. I haven’t played it since
1971 or so. Then, they gave me a ‘ 71 Tele. It
was white when I got it, but it’s yellowed since
then. Then I went to Kramer in the ‘80s and
I’m sure it would. I don’t bend a lot of strings,
so mine stays in tune all night. Some of these
rock guys bend their strings so much, they yank
them out of tune right away, so they have to
change guitars after every song.
Not now, but in the last few years with
Johnny, I used distortion and echo on “Ghost
Riders In the Sky.” I don’t use any now,
because I don’t think they work for the music.
I have enough trouble messing with the guitar and amp. I see these guys with their big
pedalboards, and they’re messing around
with batteries and wires.