DAY, JAMES CLAYTON [JIMMY]
Listen to this artist
DAY, JAMES CLAYTON [JIMMY] (1934–1999). Pedal steel guitar player James Clayton (Jimmy) Day was born in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, on January 9, 1934. He grew up in Lousiana, moved to Texas and then Nashville, Tennessee, and eventually returned to Texas permanently. As a teenager, after graduating from high school in 1951, he played non-pedal steel guitar on the Louisiana Hayride.
It was on the Hayride that he performed as a sideman for many future stars, such as Jim Reeves, Johnny Horton, Hank Williams, Elvis Presley, and Faron Young. His first recording was Beff Pierce's 1952 hit "That Heart Belongs to Me." Day later became a member of Reeves's band and took up the pedal steel guitar. He was influenced by steel guitar innovators such as Shot Jackson and Buddy Emmons. Together, Day, Jackson, and Emmons manufactured the Sho-Bud brand of pedal steel in 1957. Day named his own steel guitar "Blue Darlin'."
Ray Price invited Day to join the Cherokee Cowboys, and Day quickly demonstrated his now legendary style on such songs as "Crazy Arms" and "Heartaches by the Number." Day later teamed up with Willie Nelson on such songs as "Shotgun Willie." He became a member of the International Steel Guitar Hall of Fame in 1982. He is also a member of the Texas Steel Guitar Hall of Fame and the Texas Western Swing Hall of Fame.
Like most sidemen, Jimmy Day never received the fame he deserved for his contribution to shaping Texas country music. However, he helped make many others famous. They realized the value of his contribution and sought him out. Day played with Webb Pierce, Ernest Tubb, Skeeter Davis, and Patsy Cline, as well as many others stars. He also played with lesser-known stars such as Alvin Crow, Clay Blaker, and Don Walser. It did not seem to matter to Day who they were or where they were from, as long as he liked their music and could make a contribution.
In 1978, as Nashville studios increasingly eliminated the steel guitar from most recordings, Day returned to Central Texas, where he believed he could find audiences that still appreciated him. He went back to Nashville for a short time in 1991, but returned to Texas for the remainder of his life. He lived in Buda, near Austin. Day and his wife, Marilyn, had two daughters and three sons. He died of cancer on January 22, 1999, and is buried in Barton Cemetery in Buda, Texas. He was inducted into the Country Music Association Hall of Fame on February 25, 1999.
Curtis W. Ellison, Country Music Culture: From Hard Times to Heaven (Jackson: University Press of Mississippi, 1995). Fuller Up: The Dead Musician Directory (http://elvispelvis.com/jimmyday.htm), accessed January 30, 2008. Bill C. Malone, Country Music U.S.A. (Austin: University of Texas Press, 1968; rev. ed., Austin: University of Texas Press, 1985; 2d rev. ed., Austin: University of Texas Press, 2002). Bob Millard, Country Music What's What (New York: Harper Perennial, 1995).
Image Use Disclaimer
All copyrighted materials included within the Handbook of Texas Online are in accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107 related to Copyright and “Fair Use” for Non-Profit educational institutions, which permits the Texas State Historical Association (TSHA), to utilize copyrighted materials to further scholarship, education, and inform the public. The TSHA makes every effort to conform to the principles of fair use and to comply with copyright law.
For more information go to: http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/17/107.shtml
If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond fair use, you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.
The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this article.Handbook of Texas Online, James Kent Cox, "DAY, JAMES CLAYTON [JIMMY]," accessed July 12, 2020, http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/fdaap.
Uploaded on June 12, 2010. Modified on June 28, 2019. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.