Larry Sasser was born in Gainesville, Georgia
on August 19, 1947. Soon after that, his family moved to Conyers,
Ga. near Atlanta where they lived in the country, and his Dad raised
and trained horses. His dad also played guitar and sang, and Larry
spent a lot of time either riding in a horse show or listening to
his Dad play music. His Mom also played piano and sang, so music
was a big part of his family life.
At the age of 10 years old, Larry heard Uncle Josh Graves
playing the Dobro with Lester Flatt and Earl Scruggs.
That began Larry’s love affair with the Dobro, and knew he
would learn to play that instrument. Flatt & Scruggs had an
early morning radio show on WSM five days a week. Larry would get
up early every morning to hear Uncle Josh play his Dobro before
going to school. Josh Graves was his inspiration.
Larry told his Dad that he really wanted to learn to play like
Uncle Josh, so he took one of his Dad’s old guitars, raised
the strings and used a knife as a slide. He would listen to Uncle
Josh and tried to play every note that he played. Larry was on top
of the world the day his dad surprised him with a real Dobro he’d
had been saving for.
Larry and his dad would play together almost every night after
school. His Dad was also in a band, and as Larry learned to play
a little better, he played in the band with him and the other guys.
The Dobro was growing in popularity, mostly due to Shot Jackson
and Josh Graves. Being one of the few Dobro players in the Atlanta
area, Larry started getting calls to play live radio shows on Saturdays
and concerts all over town with various bands. His first recording
session at age 12 lead to calls for other session work, as well.
In 1965, a man contacted Larry, saying he was putting together
a band and wanted Larry to play steel guitar. Although Larry didn’t
play steel at the time, he listened to a cut of Another
Bridge To Burn with Buddy
Charlton playing steel and really liked that sound. The
two talked over coffee, and later that afternoon, he bought himself
a steel guitar. Little did he know that it would change his life
In 1968, Larry moved to Nashville and became a member of the American
Federation of Musicians. He lived in one of the famous
boarding houses on Boscabel Street where so many musicians before
him had lived. Artist all over town knew that they could call there
to find players for their bands. Everyone took the calls and if
they did not play the instrument they needed, they’d leave
a note by the phone so anyone could see it and return the call if
Larry’s first big break came in 1969, when he landed a fulltime
job with Del Reeves. He was a Grand Ole Opry star
and had his own TV show. Larry worked with Del for several years.
After Sammi Smith’s mega-hit, Help
Me Make It Through the Night came out, Larry received
a call from Sammi’s manager asking him to be her band leader,
and to find the players and put the group together. Larry played
with Sammi throughout the United States and several European countries.
One of Larry’s favorite memories is playing at Royal Albert
Hall in England.
He joined Ray Stevens Band in 1974, and got to
do all his tour dates, play on some of his records, and even toured
the world. Larry describes Ray and his high caliber players as a
class act that he felt very lucky to be part of.
Next stop . . . Jerry Reed. Larry refers to Jerry’s
amazing guitar talent, and - as in Ray’s band - the other
members were very accomplished players. Larry played on Jerry’s
records, and, since Jerry was also an actor, he also played in movies
such as, “Smoky and the Bandit” with Burt Reynolds,
“High Rollin’” with Peter Fonda, the “Concrete
Cowboy” series of movies with Tom Selick and Jerry Reed. He
says Jerry is very much like the characters he portrays in the movies,
and that playing in the Reed Band was quite an experience.
Larry also played in a few other bands with such artist as Charlie
Rich, Johnny Rodriguez, Johnny Duncan, Tanya Tucker, Lynn Anderson
and he even got to play on the road with Ernest Tubb one time.
In 1993, The Nashville Network (TNN) was formed. The flagship show
was to be called “Nashville Now” and
was to be hosted by Ralph Emery. Larry became a
member of The Nashville Now Band, and worked with hundreds of artist
of all types of music - Artists such as Johnny Cash, Barbra Mandrel,
Roy Acuff, Minnie Pearl, Reba McIntire, Randy Travis, Kitty Wells,
Grandpa Jones, Patty Loveless, Vince Gill, Garth Brooks, Trisha
Yearwood, Faith Hill and Tim McGraw. During this time, The Nashville
Now Band was voted #1 Band (non-touring) in country music five years
in a row, 1985, 86, 87, 88, 89, by The Academy of Country Music.
After 42 years, Larry was forced into retirement because of illness.
From his first session in 1959 until his premature retirement in
1993, Larry Sasser played hundreds of record sessions, tour concerts
and TV shows.
The following list documents the artists he toured with, TV show’s
he played, and some of the artist he recorded with.
Bandana, Barbra Eden, Bellamy Brothers, Blackwood Brothers, Burrito
Brothers, Carl Perkins, Carl Smith, Carol Channing, Charlie Walker,
Connie Smith, Dave Dudley, David Allen Coe, David Rogers, Del Reeves,
Don Gibson, Dottsy, Eddie Rabbit, Gary Morris, Governor Jimmy Davis,
Holly Dunn, Jeanne Pruett, Jeannie C. Riley, Jerry Reed, Jimmy C.
Newman, Jimmy Dean, John Conlee, Joe South, Lee Greenwood, LeRoy
Van Dyke, Marie Osmond, Marty Robbins, Melba Montgomery, Mel McDaniel,
Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, Patti Page, Porter Wagoner, Ray Stevens,
Shylo, Skeeter Davis, Suzy Bogguss, Tanya Tucker, T. Graham Brown,
The Wright Brothers, Tom T. Hall, Webb Pierce, and many other artist
over the years.
Hank Cochran, Harlan Howard, Red Lane, Paul Craft. There were others
but these are some of my favorites.
ARTIST WORKED WITH ON TV:
Al Hurt, Allan Jackson, Barbra Mandrell, Bobby Goldsboro, Buck
Owens, Charlie Pride, Charlie Rich, Charlie Pride, Clint Black,
Conway Twitty, Darrell McCall, Dottie West, Duane Eddy, Faith Hill,
Faron Young, Forrester Sisters, Gail Davies, Garth Brooks, George
Straight, Grandpa Jones, Jerry Reed, Joan Biez, John Prine, John
Schnider, Johnny Bush, Johnny Cash, Johnny Duncan, Johnny Paycheck,
Jimmy Dickens, June Carter – Cash, Leon Red Bone, Loretta
Lynn, Lynn Anderson,Martina McBride, Merl Haggard, Mel Tillis, Minnie
Pearl, Orleans, Pam Tillis, Patty Loveless, Randy Travis, Ray Price,
Ray Stevens, Reba McIntire, Roger Miller, Roy Acuff, Tanya Tucker,
Tim McGraw, Tom Wopat and Vince Gill.
More than 2700 TV SHOWS:
Country Carnival: Host Del Reeves
Pop Goes the Country: Host Ralph Emery
Good Ole Nashville Music
The Merv Griffin Show
The Tonight Show
Nashville on the Road: Host Jim Stafford and Rex Allen Jr.
Nashville Now: Host Ralph Emery
National Academy of Recording Arts & Sciences
Super Picker Award
1974 (No Charge by Melba Montgomery)
1977 (East Bound and Down by Jerry Reed)
NASHVILLE NOW BAND
Band of The Year 1985, 86, 87,
88, 89 (awarded
by The Academy of Country Music)
International Steel Guitar Convention
Appreciation Award: 1989
The Pedal Steel Guitar Association Inc.
Appreciation Award: 1992
The Atlanta Country Music Hall Of Fame
The Atlanta Society Of Entertainers
Lifetime Achievement: 1997
The North American Country Music Internationa:
Hall of Fame: (Instrumentalist
/ Studio Musician) 1999
Northwest Georgia Steel Guitar
Wall Of Honor
Georgia Steel Guitar Association
Legend Award 2006
Nashville Tennessee Steel Guitar Association
Legends Award 2009
International Steel Guitar Hall Of Fame