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Many steel players of note have cited Roy Wiggins as one of their influences : Curly Chalker and Ernie Hagar among others. Roy was an integral part of Eddy Arnold's sound - and fame - on RCA for quite a while ; he also made some good solo records - notably on Dot, where tracks such as 'Wiggle Waggle' and 'It's A Sin' display another side of his immaculate playing, and on Starday where he was signed in the early '60s.
Here's an appreciation of the latter.

The Starday Years


Roy recorded three LPs at Starday Sound Studios in Nashville, both produced by Tommy Hill and engineered by 'Hoss' Linneman.
To my mind, the first one is his best. It's an excellent showcase for Roy's tasty playing. The uptempo stuff - like 'Rise & Shine' and 'Flapjack' - is irresistible, while the slower tunes - like 'Love Theme' and 'Starburst', the latter a duet with Pete Drake - are haunting. It should be noted that many of the tracks are also highlighted by the superb piano playing of the late Dean Manuel, as distinctive as Floyd Cramer's.

Click here to hear 'Flapjack' in MP3
Starday SLP 188 (Mono)
Rise & Shine * Love Theme * Eddy Arnold Medley (Chained To A Memory/Molly Darling/Bouquet of Roses) * Ting-A-Ling * Cryin' Steel Guitar * The Weasel * Flapjack * Thru' The Night * Wiggins Wiggle * Starburst * Eddy Arnold Medley (Any Time/A Heart Full Of Love/
Just A Little Lovin') * South Seas

Roy's second Starday LP ('The Fabulous Steel Guitar Artistry Of Little Roy Wiggins') is quite good, but consists only of Hawaiian tunes - a style that Jerry Byrd was particularly fond of ; thus, the record somewhat lacks the diversity of the previous one. Backing Roy on this one are : Harold Bradley (electric guitar & ukulele), Junior Huskey (bass) and the Willis Brothers - Skeeter, Vic & Guy - on fiddle, piano and guitar respectively. Outstanding tracks include 'My Tane', 'Waikiki Wiggle' and 'Driftwood'.

Starday SLP 259
Song of The Islands * Waikiki Wiggle * Sweet Leilani * Driftwood * South Sea Melody * Blue Hawaii * Steel On The Hula * Hawaiian Sunset * Honolulu Nights * My Tane * The Hilo Hattie Shake * 'Till We Meet Again (Aloha)

His third Starday was '18 All Time Hits' (SLP 392). Roy cut several other fine duets with Pete Drake during his stint with the label in the early sixties; he also did some session work there (e.g. for Johnny Bond). He, too, is gone now.

© PAUL VIDAL * Privas, France * January 2006

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