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Old August 19th, 2007, 06:45 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Roy Nichols

There doesn't seem to be alot of info about Roy Nichols out there on the web, or pics, or youtube stuff. He played with Hag for 25 years, and was a telemaster, did he have a certain guitar that he played for a long time, like many other artists? I've seen him with a white one (late 50's maybe). I've seen him with some Les pauls too, later in his career, but what particular teles was he known for, if any?


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Old August 19th, 2007, 10:48 PM   #2 (permalink)
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Roy had many many guitars. He was probably best know by his white Tele, which I've been told was a 1957 Tele. Here it is on one of the Strangers instrumental albums.



He also used it on the "Fightin' Side of Me" album recorded live in Philadelphia. Here is the cropped picture from the album.



One of the coolest things about doing the Roy Nichols video was getting all the mail from folks who are Roy fans, and hearing their stories. My favorite album is the "Fightin' Side of Me" album, and I found someone that attended that show and took pictures. The kind gentleman had slides from that show that he dug them out of his archive and scanned them in and sent them to me. Here is a sample.



I've set the archive folder to be viewable for all the Philly pictures here (Valentines Day 1970):
http://terrydownsmusic.com/Archive/hag_live/

I've looked the world over for that guitar. Fender contacted me about doing a Roy Nichols signature guitar, and they wanted to make it like this white Tele. I pestered Roy's wife way too much trying to find it. I was on track to a guy in Canada, but it turned out to be the wrong guitar.

This was his most exposed guitar. I'll continue to post other guitars he played.
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Old August 19th, 2007, 10:56 PM   #3 (permalink)
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Here is Roy playing a double neck Mosrite in Wynn Stewart's band. Notice Merle playing bass.



This is the youngest picture I ever found of Roy playing a Tele.



Here is another early Tele pic.



Here is Roy playing a Tele made by Gene Moles on a TV show. This is the pic from the Johnny Isaacs avitar. Notice the engraved nameplate by Gene.

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Old August 19th, 2007, 11:04 PM   #4 (permalink)
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Here is a Tele he used a lot and was seen on a lot of TV shows back then. For a while Youtube had a video of Hag on the Porter Wagoner Show, which had Roy playing this Tele. This is the early 70s on Austin City Limits.





Here is a dark Tele with a white guard. This is the only pic I have ever seen of that guitar. The Strangers ages look like mid to late 70s.



I had heard about a black Tele with a tortoise guard, and I finally got a picture of it. This was sent to me by another Roy fan that shot this Polaroid at a live show in NC in 1974.

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Old August 19th, 2007, 11:11 PM   #5 (permalink)
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Roy started playing a Tele Custom in the 80s. This looks like mid 80s.



Roy got infected with the Les Paul disease much earlier however.


He wound up playing this Les Paul until he parted ways with Haggard in 1987.

This should be close to 1985 since the Strangers were wearing the same clothes as when we opened for Hag in 1985.


Here is a flame Tele post Haggard days.

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Old August 19th, 2007, 11:17 PM   #6 (permalink)
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Wasn't the Fightin' Side Of Me album recorded in 1970? If Roy's tele is a '57 that thing got a ton of play in 13 years, look at the wear on the neck. The tone of the guitar wasn't real bright, it was a big, full sound. My favorite guitar solo on that album is on "Every Fool Has A Rainbow".
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Old August 19th, 2007, 11:19 PM   #7 (permalink)
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I've talked with Bobby Wayne quite a bit about Roy and those wild Haggard tours. He said it was next to impossible to nail down the whereabouts of any of those guitars. They were apparently robbed a lot. They would do a show, and then go party somewhere. Whoever was hired to do the equipment moves would steal their equipment too many times.

I also know Roy had a Tuff Dog Tele. Roy's wife told me that was his favorite guitar.

I hope this helps to answer your question.
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Old August 19th, 2007, 11:22 PM   #8 (permalink)
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Originally Posted by jlrich View Post
Wasn't the Fightin' Side Of Me album recorded in 1970? If Roy's tele is a '57 that thing got a ton of play in 13 years, look at the wear on the neck. The tone of the guitar wasn't real bright, it was a big, full sound. My favorite guitar solo on that album is on "Every Fool Has A Rainbow".
Yes, it was Valentines Day 1970. "Every Fool Has A Rainbow" was absolutely the greatest, including Merle's voice. You can also bet that most of that wear was from practice. Roy lived with a guitar in his hand. He would have people drive for him so he could play guitar in the car.
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Old August 20th, 2007, 01:51 AM   #9 (permalink)
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Old August 20th, 2007, 07:51 AM   #10 (permalink)
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Wow! Thanks for all the great info Terry! Interesting about how Roy's guitars all seem to be long gone, probably due to theft. Given that, it is amazing that some guys like Bill Kirchen have held onto their for so long. BTW, what's a "Tuff-Dog Tele"??
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Old August 20th, 2007, 07:57 AM   #11 (permalink)
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that guitar looks like it could be the template for the haggard sig tele
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Old August 20th, 2007, 02:28 PM   #12 (permalink)
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Originally Posted by GuitarJonz View Post
Wow! Thanks for all the great info Terry! Interesting about how Roy's guitars all seem to be long gone, probably due to theft. Given that, it is amazing that some guys like Bill Kirchen have held onto their for so long. BTW, what's a "Tuff-Dog Tele"??

It's the Merle Haggard Signature Fender Telecaster.
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Old August 20th, 2007, 02:42 PM   #13 (permalink)
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I had the pleasure of seeing Roy play on his one trip to Ireland in mid '70s, and it was the (or one of the) white Teles.

I read somewhere that he had a Tele with the extra bits of body cut off, so as it was easier to play in the bus. Terry is maybe the only person who can give us the background on that one.
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Old August 20th, 2007, 08:59 PM   #14 (permalink)
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More on the Tuff Dog

Quote:
I read somewhere that he had a Tele with the extra bits of body cut off, so as it was easier to play in the bus. Terry is maybe the only person who can give us the background on that one.
Before too many people gasp about Roy cutting up a Tele, let me tell you that he cut up a Gibson SG. He basically left enough wood to support holding the bridge, pickups and neck. Roy, along with his son Michael, actually restored the cutoff pieces to the guitar in later years. They used dowel rod and glue to put it back together. Michael still has it in his possession.

I wrote the history section part of the tablature book on Roy, but I didn't include anything about his guitars except one. I wish I would have thought about that at the time. Oh well.
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Old August 21st, 2007, 10:18 AM   #15 (permalink)
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It's the Merle Haggard Signature Fender Telecaster.

I'm pretty sure the first tuff dogs weren't made by fender, if I remember correctly they were made in the 80's by jerry jones (yes the dano style guitar guy), and were neck thru construction. I remember an article about them in Guitar Player magazine back then.


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Old August 22nd, 2007, 01:01 PM   #16 (permalink)
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Nice to see some love for Roy. I think he was the best lead country guitar player ever. The live 'Okie from Muskogee' lp/cd is my favorite work by him. His playing is riveting on that one. His playing on 'Mama Tried' and on the 'hits' medley bring tears. He's everything and more that a great country player should be.




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p.s.: And how about 'Working Man Blues', now that's way ahead of it's time.
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Old August 22nd, 2007, 02:56 PM   #17 (permalink)
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Originally Posted by freddie View Post
Nice to see some love for Roy. I think he was the best lead country guitar player ever. The live 'Okie from Muskogee' lp/cd is my favorite work by him. His playing is riveting on that one. His playing on 'Mama Tried' and on the 'hits' medley bring tears. He's everything and more that a great country player should be.




freddie


p.s.: And how about 'Working Man Blues', now that's way ahead of it's time.


+1

His solo on No Hard Times Blues from that album is what hooked me on wanting to be a guitar player when I was a kid.
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Old August 22nd, 2007, 09:44 PM   #18 (permalink)
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Originally Posted by freddie View Post
Nice to see some love for Roy. I think he was the best lead country guitar player ever. The live 'Okie from Muskogee' lp/cd is my favorite work by him. His playing is riveting on that one. His playing on 'Mama Tried' and on the 'hits' medley bring tears. He's everything and more that a great country player should be.




freddie


p.s.: And how about 'Working Man Blues', now that's way ahead of it's time.
I can't agree more on the Okie album.

Just to set the record straight, James Burton played the original solo on the "Workin' Man Blues" studio recording. I had known that for years, but I didn't find out until after the Roy Nichols video that James actually used a capo in that solo. I was so excited to see how the same notes I tabbed out could be played with open strings utilizing the capo. I never saw Roy play it with a capo. Bonnie Owens said that they used a glass ashtray being struck by a screwdriver shaft for the railroad spike sound in the studio...reverb added of course.

It turns out that Roy's last recording session before his death was for a guy that was recording Haggard cover tunes. Roy's wife gave me the analog tape of that session. Here is the solo.

Roy Nichols Last Recording Session - Workin' Man Blues Solo
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Old August 22nd, 2007, 09:46 PM   #19 (permalink)
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+1

His solo on No Hard Times Blues from that album is what hooked me on wanting to be a guitar player when I was a kid.
Yes, that is a piece of work alright. It took me forever to figure that out.
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Old August 22nd, 2007, 09:53 PM   #20 (permalink)
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Peavey T-60

In his later years Roy played a Peavey T-60 as well. I emailed Roy about 8 or so years ago and asked him and he acknowledged that he did play a Peavey for a spell because the Peavey endorsement deal they had. He did say it was a good guitar too. I know that may not go over with some of the Tele purists here, but that's what he told me.
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