I started with Ernest Tubb in the fall of 1957. My most memorable musical experience with Ernest was the first recording session.
We were working on a song called Half A Mind, and for some reason, it wasn't feeling right to ET. After several rehearsals, he was ready to move on to another song when the producer, Owen Bradley, said, "Ernest, just for kicks, why don't you try pedal steel on the intro. It would be something different for you and might do something for the song." Ernest nodded my way and said, "Okay, let's see what it sounds like."
I played the intro and Ernest sang up to the solo part and gave me another nod. After I finished, he stopped and I thought it was history, but instead, he said something like, "I believe it'll work."
During the next rehearsal, my solo journeyed a bit too far into La-La land for ET and half way through he leaned over and put his hand on my shoulder and whispered, "Could you stick a little closer to the melody, son?"
If my memory is correct, Half A Mind was the first song the A and B pedals were used on. Up to then the B and G# strings were on one pedal.
Some time in 1958 I left the band to work with Gordon Terry at the Foothill club in Long Beach, California. After a year, I was ready to go back to Tennessee. Ray Price worked the club and didn't have a bass player so I used Red's bass to play the gig. After the show, Ray offered me a temporary job and a ride back to Nashville. They didn't have a bass on their bus, so I tuned the bottom four strings down on my Fender 1000 and played bass lines for the rest of the tour.
When I returned to Nashville, I took a job with George Jones. After a short time with George, I was offered a job playing lead guitar for Ernest. Bobby Garrett was playing steel and doing a great job, so I accepted the offer and spent most of my time on the bandstand looking over his shoulder and trying to spook him.
Later, Bobby took a job with Hank Thompson and Ernest asked me if I knew of any steel players that might want the job. I suggested the only person I thought could cut it and ended up working with ET until 1962.