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Billy Robinson  

 The Man    The Musician     The Artist   The Videos


    There are not many people who can say they have been successful at two careers. But Billy Robinson can! After a successful stint as a steel guitarist, he added another dimension to his life, becoming a respected artist.

He can truly call himself a native Nashvillian. A self–taught musician, He began playing guitar at age 10, and by 15 formed his own local band, the “Eagle Rangers” playing steel guitar locally at places like the old “Eagles Club” on 8th Avenue. All the “Rangers” went on to make their own mark in the music world: Bobby Moore, Floyd Robinson (Billy's Brother), Jerry Rivers, Jack Boles and Dwain Birdwell. In 1947 He began playing steel guitar with Big Jeff who was the “music school” for a lot of musicians at the time. Billy worked for Jeff in clubs and at WLAC Radio as one of the “Radio Playboys” while still in high school.

Billy’s big break came in l948, while he was still playing at WLAC. WSM, then a clear channel station, needed a steel guitarist for their Grand Ole Opry, NBC Network Prince Albert Show. Red Foley, star of the show and Jack Stapp, Program Director, auditioned him for that spot and he was hired. He quickly had all the work he could do. Not only did he work and record for Foley, he recorded on hits records with George Morgan, Carl Smith, Webb Pierce and many others. As steel player “On Staff” with WSM, he found himself rising at dawn to do the early shows, back again at “Noontime Neighbors” and again there for the dinner show, “Blue Velvet Music” with Red Foley. As an Opry musician, he was called on to play for Opry guests such as Tony Bennett and Kay Starr.

Then in 1952, he became a member of the US Army in Special Services. Billy played bass drum in the Army’s marching band and became a member of the combo that played in Officer’s and NCO Clubs. He always had a second love besides music, so when he was discharged from the Army, he completely changed directions and attended the Harris Advertising Art School. He finished a four year course in three years on the GI Bill.

After graduating, he had several jobs and then worked for the Baptist Sunday School Board for 7 years. Then he became Art Director for NASCO in Springfield TN. He has now retired from there after 27 years, but retirement isn’t for Billy Robinson. Now he has a foot in both art and music. He founded his own business, “Robinson Graphics,” and designed a lap steel guitar which has been custom built for him by Charlie Stepp of Derby Steel Guitars in Kentucky.
                     

Now he has the time to do what he has always dreamed of doing. At his home on the lake, in Gallatin, TN, he has painted many pictures, representing music and musicians as it used to be in the old country store, at a square dance, in a cabin living room and even at an Indian Campground. And is now working on Santa Claus playing different instruments. And there are more on the drawing board!

Billy was inducted into the International Steel Guitar Hall of Fame in September 1996 and plays at steel guitar conventions all over the country. He has recorded, produced and released an album of pop and country songs, creating his own sound on the lap steel guitar, and still finds time to play a round of golf with friends.

And in September 2007 he received from The Steel Guitar Hall of Fame,
 The Jerry Byrd  Lifetime Achievement Award
 

           

  Henry Cannon's Plane     husband of Sarah Cannon "Minnie Pearl"

left to right     -      Butter Ball Page,  Jack Drake,  Red Foley,  Eva Foley,  Billy Robinson,
 Grady Martin,  Rod Brassfield,  Ernest Tubb,  Cowboy Copus,   Calvin Robins-ET's Bro,
 Dollie Dearman,  Don "Red" Barry,  Minnie Pearl,  Ernie Newton,  Lazy Jim Day
in the door - Zeb Turner

 


Many years later, (1982)  he was chosen for a stand-in part, playing the
dobro, in Clint Eastwood's movie "Honkytonk Man"
left to right:  Billy Robinson,    unknown,    Clint Eastwood,     unknown




back row - Floyd Robinson, Jerry Rivers, Jack Boles, Bob Moore
front row - Billy Robinson,              Dwain Birdwell                           
 


Billy  with  Eddie Stubbs of WSM radio,  at Uncle Dave Macon Days
Old Time Music And Dance Festival in Murfreesboro, Tennessee
Displaying his Art
 

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