Steel Trappings

On the Playlist

On the Playlist: Jerry Byrd

November 1, 2021 • Geronimo "Geri" ValdrizSteel Guitar History

"HAWAIIAN STEEL" is a weekly radio program that spotlights the Hawaiian steel guitar masters from the past to the present. "ON THE PLAYLIST" features the musicians heard on the program's playlist. This month we profile Jerry Byrd!

Gerald Lester Byrd was born on March 9, 1920 at Lima, Ohio. As a young man he listened to and was inspired by the great Hawaiian Steel guitarists Sol Ho‘opi‘i, Andy Iona, Sam Koki, and Dick McIntire. He taught himself to play the steel guitar and later took weekly guitar lessons.

In the 1940's Jerry Byrd played country music on the Renfro Valley Barn Dance, the Mid Western Hayride, and on radio stations WJR in Detroit, WSM in Nashville, and WLW in Cincinnati. At the time he toured with Red Foley and his band and later with Ernest Tubb, the Texas Troubadour. He also began his long recording career.

In the 1950's Jerry Byrd moved to Nashville, Tennessee. He played and recorded with musicians such as Chet Atkins, Marty Robbins, Hank Snow, Roy Clark, Hank Williams, Patti Page, Burl Ives, and many, many others.

At the time pedals and knee levers were added to the Hawaiian steel guitar, and most Nashville steel guitarists switched from playing the Hawaiian steel guitar to the newly invented pedal steel guitar. However, Jerry Byrd refused to switch over to the pedal steel.

Jerry Byrd

In 1972 Jerry Byrd moved to Hawai‘i, the birth place of the steel guitar and lived the life of his dreams. When he arrived he discovered that the Hawaiian steel guitar was in its decline and not being played by young musicians.

Jerry was hired to play at the major hotel venues in Waikīkī. This included the Outrigger Hotel's Blue Dolphin Room, the Royal Hawaiian Hotel's Surf Room, and the Halekulani Hotel's House Without a Key.

He toured throughout the Hawaiian Islands, and most frequently to Japan where he was extremely popular. He also recorded with the top Hawaiian and Japanese musicians of the day, bringing back Kīkā Kila to the sound of Hawaiian music.

Jerry Byrd

Despite his busy schedule, Jerry Byrd began teaching steel guitar on the weekends at Harry's Music in Kaimuki. He loved Hawaiian culture and its people, and always wanted to "give back" to the islands. Today, several of his students are prominent players who reside throughout the islands. They keep Kīkā Kila alive in Hawaiian mele and carry on the tradition of teaching and sharing the music.

Jerry Byrd's discography of recordings in Country music and Hawaiian music is extensive. He recorded 25 solo albums and countless tracks as a sideman. He is a Giant in both genres and a recipient of awards and accolades too numerous to recount.

In addition, he was a composer, arranger, and song writer. His career spanned more than 70 years. In 1978 he was the first steel guitarist to be inducted into the Steel Guitar Hall of Fame.

On April 11, 2005 Jerry Byrd died in Honolulu, at the age of 85. He is forever known as the "Master of Touch and Tone." He will always be remembered for what he accomplished for the steel guitar. He was an inspiration to steel guitarists and loved by his fans the world over.

Today fans seek out the recordings of Jerry Byrd. He continues to inspire steel guitarist seeking to emulate his fluid Hawaiian style. His music is now available on CD and online to a new generation of fans who can appreciate this innovative and unique Hawaiian musician!

On the Playlist of Hawaiian Steel: Jerry Byrd

Song CD Album
Blue Mist By Request / Mountain Apple
A He Nani Ni‘ihau Gary Aiko: Mai Poina ‘Oe Ia‘u / GK Records
Pa‘au‘au Waltz Steel Guitar Hawaiian Style / Lehua
Paradise Isle Byrd's Expedition / RWA
A Royal Hawaiian Sunset Gary Aiko: Mai Poina ‘Oe Ia‘u / GK Records
How D'ya Do Steel Guitar Hawaiian Style / Lehua

"Hawaiian Steel" with Geri Valdriz is broadcast live every Tuesday from 5:00 pm to 8:00 pm (HST) on Mana‘o Radio, Wailuku, Maui, Hawai‘i, KMNO, 91.7FM.

You can catch it on the air, or streaming live at www.manaoradio.com. Listeners can also access the online archives to enjoy previously recorded programs at your convenience. Just search "Listen on Demand" for past shows.

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2022

Facebook LiveYouTube
Hawaiian Steel Guitar Showcase

Livestream Steel Guitar Saturday
May 28, 2022 – LIVE STREAMED on Facebook and YouTube 3PM - 5PM HST

Facebook LiveYouTube
Hawaiian Steel Guitar Festival at Windward Mall
incorporating the
Hawaiian Steel Guitar Showcase
June 11, 2022 – Windward Mall, Kane‘ohe, Hawai‘i
11:30 AM - 4:00 PM HST

Royal Hawaiian Center Presents Waikīkī Steel Guitar Week   
July 11-14, 2022 – Royal Grove Stage, Royal Hawaiian Center, Waikīkī
Nightly Evening Performances 5:30PM - 6:30PM HST
Facebook LiveYouTube
Royal Hawaiian Center Presents Japan-Hawaiian Steel Guitar Festival
incorporating the
Hawaiian Steel Guitar Showcase
July 15, 2022 – Royal Grove Stage, Royal Hawaiian Center, Waikīkī
Friday Performances 4PM - 6:30PM HST
Facebook LiveYouTube
Royal Hawaiian Center Presents Waikīkī Steel Guitar Festival
incorporating the
Hawaiian Steel Guitar Showcase
July 16, 2022 – Royal Grove Stage, Royal Hawaiian Center, Waikīkī
Saturday Performances 11AM - 2PM and 4:30PM - 6:30PM HST

AISGC
AISGC Hawaiian Steel Guitar Festival

July 21-23, 2022 – Winchester, IN
Tickets available online or at the door

2022 HSGA Hawaiian Steel Guitar Festival
August 11-13, 2022 – Foster City, CA
Tickets available online or at the door
Facebook LiveYouTube
Hawaiian Steel Guitar Festival Keiki Kine at Kahala Mall
incorporating the
Hawaiian Steel Guitar Showcase
August 27, 2022 – Kahala Mall, Honolulu, Hawai‘i
3:00 PM - 5:00 PM HST

Hawai‘i Island Steel Guitar Experience at Mauna Lani   
December 8-11, 2022 – Mauna Lani, Auberge Resorts Collection, Kamuela, Hawai‘i Island.
Facebook LiveYouTube
Hawai‘i Island Steel Guitar Experience at Mauna Lani
incorporating the
Hawaiian Steel Guitar Showcase
December 10-11, 2022 – Mauna Lani, Auberge Resorts Collection, Kamuela, Hawai‘i Island.
Friday Ho‘olaule‘a 5:30 PM - 9:30 PM HST
Saturday Twilight at Kalāhuipua‘a concert 5:30 PM - 8:30 PM HST

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