Herb Remington

Barring its polka scene, South Bend, Indiana isn't known for its musical exports, which is strange considering that the assembly lines were humming at Studebaker during the '40s, '50s and '60s. Nevertheless, there were exceptions to the rule, such as frat rock kings the Rivieras, bluegrass champs the Barrier Brothers and R&B saxophonist Junior Walker, but one of the most interesting phenomenons of the Michiana area was its penchant to birth legendary steel guitarists, namely Buddy Emmons, Sneaky Pete Klienow and the greatest of them all, Herb Remington. Born in 1926 in nearby Mishawaka, Remington started out on the piano and became enthralled with the Hawaiian steel guitar while attending Riley High School, cutting his teeth at the nearby Green Star Café on Miami Street. After graduation he headed to the West Coast at the end of World War II—a time when being a musician was actually known to bring the money in. During an audition for Luke Wills' band he was spied by brother Bob and immediately inducted into the Texas Playboys. Baptism by fire it was, as his first gig found him in a battle of the bands with Spade Cooley's Orchestra at the Santa Monica Ballroom.

It was with Wills that Remington first came into the limelight, via his instrumental showcase "Bootheel Drag." Four years later he joined Hank Penny's band and upped the ante with "Remington Ride," cutting his own solo records for Decca all the while. A session player for Starday Records, he played steel on many of the early George Jones sides, as well as classic rockabilly and hillbilly discs by lesser known artists, and still later, with Merle Haggard. He currently supervises the production of his own Remington Steel Guitars, also finding time to teach, play with Houston Western Swing band the River Road Boys and maintain a slew of steady gigs in Hawaii, where he remains a favorite.

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