PETE DRAKEWhen Ringo sent his car to pick him up from the airport, Pete was amazed that Ringo had so many country music tapes in the car along with the rock'n'roll, and Ringo and Pete discussed making a country album.The son of a Pentecostal minister, Drake began his career with his siblings in the Drake Brothers band. His bother Jack went on to join Ernest Tubb's Texas Troubadors for 25 years. Inspired by the Opry's steel great Jerry Byrd he saved and bought himself a steel guitar (see later interview link). Drake's melodic steel guitar playing made him one of Atlanta's top young instrumentalists. He joined with future stars Jerry Reed, Doug Kershaw, Roger Miller and Joe South, in a mid-'50s band. Although this group failed to record, it provided Drake with the impetus to move to Nashville in 1959.
He recorded first for Starday before signing up to the new Mercury based Smash label. He played on many Nashville country/pop sessions for the likes of Don Gibson, The Everly Brothers and Marty Robbins. Pete had a pop Top 30 hit, "Forever" in 1964 (credited to "Pete Drake and his Talking Steel Guitar"), and recorded albums of country covers, his own tunes and experimental styles like his "talking guitar". More often his trademark mellow toned steel guitar was used to strengthen albums by other artists. .He played on many crossover country/pop hits such as Lynn Anderson's (I Never Promised You A) Rose Garden, Charlie Rich's Behind Closed Doors, and Tammy Wynette's Stand By Your Man. He became a cult name in the modern rock era by playing on sessions for Bob Dylan ( John Wesley Harding , Nashville Skyline & Self Portrait)), Ringo Starr (Beaucoups Of Blues, produced by Pete) and George Harrison (All Things Must Pass)
Far more importantly, he backed Jerry Lee on the Would You Take Another Chance On Me and The Killer Rocks On lp sessions in the early 70s, playing on hits like Me & Bobby McGee and Chantilly Lace.
Pete played on many of Jerry's 70s Nashville sessions and was often the session leader.
He also played on some forgettable mid 60s Elvis soundtrack albums like Double Trouble, Speedway and Clambake. He would've enjoyed the Fools Fall In Love, Big Boss Man, You Don't Know Me, Singing Tree, Guitar Man/US Male/Too Much Monkey Business sessions more (meeting up with old buddy Jerry Reed) as well as the gospel sessions of the period.
He eventually had his own studio, Pete's Place, and launched his own record label, First Generation, in the late '70s, Drake signed his brother's old boss Ernest Tubb who had left MCA after 35 years, and released an album, The Legend and the Legacy in 1977. Comprised of reworkings of Tubb's greatest hits, the album included guest appearances by country superstars such as Willie & Waylon, Marty Robbins, Conway Twitty, George Jones, Merle Haggard and Johnny Cash. This has now been reissued many times on budget labels.
Pete occasionally stepped into the spotlight, releasing solo album of pop-gospel standards,Steel Away and an album of Dylan/Beatles tunes. He died in Nashville on July 29th 1988, aged just 55.
Pete Drake is also responsible for one of Ringo Starr's best albums, "Beaucoups of Blues". Ringo met Pete at the Harrison "All Things Must Pass" sessions, and Pete was fascinated that Ringo was such a big country music fan.
Beaucoups Of BluesRingo Starr
Beaucoups Of Blues - Front Cover Beaucoups Of Blues - Rear Cover Beaucoups Of Blues - Inner Gatefold (right side)
(The other side of the gatefold contains the lyrics)