Hargus ‘Pig’ Robbins Dies at 84: Pianist for Bob Dylan, Patsy Cline

Hargus “Pig” Robbins, a Country Music Hall of Fame member who has played piano on thousands of Nashville sessions and is known for Bob Dylan fan for his work “Blonde on Blonde” has died at the age of 84. No immediate cause of death was given.

Robbins’ first big hit as a practice man had him play on George Jones’ classic “White Lighting”, and he has since moved on to provide piano parts on Patsy Cline“I Fall to Pieces” and “Back in Baby’s Arms.” Breakthroughs of the 1960s, 1970s, and 1980s include his distinctive piano pieces including Charlie Rich’s “Behind the Closed Doors” and “The Most Beautiful Girl in the World,” “Don’t It.” Make My Brown Eyes Blue” by Crystal Gayle, “by Loretta Lynn” You’re Looking at Country, “After the Fire is Gone” by Lynn and Conway Twitty, “She Thinks I Still Care” by Jones and “He Stop Loving Her” Today”, “Coat of Many Colors” by Dolly Parton, “by Roger Miller. King of the Road, “The Gambler” by Kenny Rogers, “Green, Green Grass of Home” by Porter Wagoner, “DIVORCE” by Tammy Wynette and “Delta Dawn” by Tanya Tucker.

Among rock aficionados, the blind pianist is also known for playing Leon Russell and Cliff Richard records, but his best recognized recording of any genre might be “Blonde on Blonde”, widely recognized as one of Dylan’s best albums and the song that stands out from his standout play (and cheers) from “Rainy Day Women #12 & 35”

Robbins still plays in gigs of the country’s top lights like his work on Miranda Lambert’s “The Weight of These Wings” in 2015, and features recordings by Alan Jackson, Miranda Lambert , Sturgill Simpson and Marty Stuart.

His popularity was so popular that his name was used as a gag in Robert Altman’s 1975 film “Nashville.” Henry Gibson, who plays a veteran country singer in the film, isn’t funny. fell in love with a long-haired version of the player named Frog, and eventually exclaimed: “When I asked for Pig, I wanted Pig. Now you get me Pig, and then we’ll be ready to record this tune here. “

“Like all successful version musicians, Pig Robbins is quick to adapt to any studio situation,” said Kyle Young, CEO of the Country Music Hall and Museum. “He works quickly, with perfection that is less of a goal than a standard. And while he can change his style to suit the singer and the song, his playing is always distinctive. Pig’s left hand on the piano combines with Bob Moore’s bass to create an unstoppable rhythmic force, while the fingers of his right hand fly like birds over the keys. The greatest musicians in Nashville looked to Pig for guidance and inspiration. “

When Robbins was inducted into the Country Hall of Fame, guitar player Harold Bradley, also a member of the Hall of Fame and Nashville’s “A team,” said, “Pig has come up with more recognizable licks than anyone else. . And he’s also the best rhythm piano player in town. ”

Born in Spring City, Tennessee, Robbins lost his sight at the age of 3. “I stuck a knife in one eye,” he explained, and when the doctor decided the eye needed to be surgically removed, “the other was out due to a sympathetic infection.” He attended Tennessee School for the Blind, and at around age 7, accepted offers for students to take piano lessons, though, was a fan of Roy Acuff and other country stars, as well as boogie-woogie, he agreed to the request that he study only classical music. “They have these practice rooms and I wanted to be as far away from the teacher as possible,” he said.

Robbins got his nickname from constantly playing around fire escapes at school. “When I come out and get really dirty with all that soot, the warden knows exactly where I’ve been, and she says ‘You’re as dirty as a little pig.’” Did the nickname bother him? No? Not at all, he said.

In the late 1950s, Robbins released a series of country-rockabilly discs on his own, but quickly shifted his focus to version work, although he released instrumental albums bearing his name as a sideline. in the late 1970s. The big change came when Floyd Cramer, who had chosen to take the top lessons in Nashville, began a successful solo career. “Floyd Cramer started moving from assistant to artist,” explained Robbins in a 2007 interview with Bill Lloyd at the Hall of Fame, “and that opened… the door for me, sure. … I finally realized that I could make more money from my lessons than just singing. ”

Robbins spoke in the same interview about recording with Dylan in 1965 for “Blonde on Blonde” during sessions that opened the door for the kicking cats to Nashville and enlisted the Nashville cats to provide one. look at their profile differently. When asked if he knew much about Dylan before the session, Robbins replied: “Not really. I’ve heard the name, but not much else than that. But when he came in, it was a lesson for me. He is completely different. He’ll come in here with a song that’s seven or eight minutes long. I remember they booked sessions like 6 (arrival) 10pm, and he probably wouldn’t show up until 9:00. He would say, “OK, guys, let me have the studio, I’ve got to write a song,” and we’d hang out in the halls until 12 or an hour before we hit a single note. “

Lloyd noted a story told by another key member of Dylan’s lessons, Al Kooper: Dylan used to pass messages to Robbins via Kooper because he admired the pianist so much that he called him “” Stale”.

Robbins isn’t unsympathetic to Dylan’s unusual way of working with him…or shy about imbibing what drives sessions. At the Walk of Fame interview, after playing the excerpt “Women in the Rain #12 & 35”, with the familiar chorus of “Everybody must be stoned”, Robbins continued: “And we was like that.”

The pianist was named Country Music Association Instrumentalist of the Year in 1976 and 2000. Proud of that first honor, he began running three albums with Elektra in the late ’70s with an album he actually called “Country Instrument of the Year.

Charlie McCoy, another session player who has been inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame, sang Robbins’ praises: “He’s the best session player I’ve ever worked with. When he goes to a practice session, the others play better. ”

Soft spoken Robbins can have a colorful way with words. When asked how it felt to play the piano for Charlie Rich on songs like “Behind the Closed Doors” when Rich was already an excellent pianist, Lloyd said, “Oh, he’s a great pianist. I’ll tell you, with him standing about 3 feet behind me (in the studio), the pucker factor is very high.”

Other artists Robbins has played with include Neil Young, Joan Baez, Kenny Chesney, Shania Twain, Johnny Cash, Merle Haggard, George Strait, Mark Knopfler, Paul Anka, Chet Atkins, JJ Cale, John Denver, Duane Eddy, Lefty Frizzell, Tom T Hall, Wille Nelson, Vince Gill, Johnny Paycheck, Del Shannon, Randy Travis, Little Jimmy Dickens, The Statler Brothers, Ernest Tubb and Keith Whitley.

https://variety.com/2022/music/obituaries-people-news/hargus-pig-robbins-dead-nashville-country-hall-famer-bob-dylan-1235167182/ Hargus ‘Pig’ Robbins Dies at 84: Pianist for Bob Dylan, Patsy Cline

Fry Electronics Team

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