Red Rhodes

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Red Rhodes
Birth name Orville J. Rhodes
Also known as Red
Born (1930-12-30)December 30, 1930
Alton, Illinois
Died August 20, 1995(1995-08-20) (aged 64)
Los Angeles, California
Genres Country, country rock
Instruments Pedal steel guitar
Years active 1960s - 1990s
Labels Crown, Countryside, Exact, Happy Tiger, Alshire
Associated acts Michael Nesmith and The First National Band, among many others

Orville J. Rhodes, better known as Red Rhodes or O. J. Rhodes (December 30, 1930 – August 20, 1995), was an American pedal steel guitarist. His mother taught him to play the Dobro at the age of five, but at the age of fifteen he switched to the steel guitar. He was a boxer and an oil company engineer before he settled into music.[1] He moved to Los Angeles in 1960 and became a session musician.[2]

Rhodes played pedal steel on many country rock, pop and rock albums with The Monkees, James Taylor, The Beach Boys, Seals and Crofts, The Byrds, The Carpenters, Spanky and Our Gang, and many other groups, as part of the "Wrecking Crew" studio musicians. He is most often remembered for his work with former Monkee Michael Nesmith on Nesmith's first solo albums in the early 1970s.[3] Rhodes is also credited for the "other-worldly" effects he created with pedal steel on The Ventures futuristic album The Ventures in Space in 1964.[4]

In the late 1970s Rhodes shifted his focus from performing to guitar electronics at his Royal Amplifier Service shop in Hollywood, California. There Rhodes modified amplifiers and created his custom Velvet Hammer guitar pickups for James Burton, Clarence White, Gerald Ray.[5] and other influential guitarists.[6] His shop staff included future instrument makers David Schecter, Michael Tobias and Bill Chapin.

Rheumatoid arthritis restricted Rhodes' public performances and recordings in the 1980s and 1990s, with the notable exception of his appearance on Michael Nesmith's Tropical Campfires album and tour in 1992. Rhodes fell ill soon after this tour, and died on August 20, 1995.[2]


Solo projects

  • Once a Day, 1961, Crown
  • Blue Blue Day, 1962, Crown
  • Steel Guitar Rag, 1963, Crown
  • Red Rhodes Live at The Palomino, 1969, Happy Tiger
  • Velvet Hammer in a Cowboy Band, 1973, Countryside
  • Red Rhodes' Steel Guitar, 1979, Alshire
  • Fantastic Steel Guitar, 1980, Exact
  • Steel Guitar Favorites, 1990, Alshire

Session work


  1. "Orville Rhodes; Country and Western Musician". LA Times. Retrieved 2016-02-04.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  2. 2.0 2.1 Brennan, Sandra. "Red Rhodes - Biography". allmusic. Retrieved 2009-06-12.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  3. "Biography for Red Rhodes". IMDB. Retrieved 2009-06-13.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  4. Eden, Dawn (1992). The Ventures Play Telstar, The Lonely Bull and Others/Ventures in Space (CD insert). The Ventures. Hollywood, CA: EMI America Records. E2-80239.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  5. Gerald Ray
  6. "Products". Velvet Hammer Pickups. Retrieved 2009-06-13.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>