Piano great Hargus “Pig” Robbins shares his life story in music during this 2007 program, part of the “Nashville Cats” series at the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum, designed to showcase musicians who have played important roles in country music history. Pig Robbins’s piano playing has been heard on countless hit records, including “Behind Closed Doors” and “Don’t It Make My Brown Eyes Blue.”
In a ninety-minute interview with singer-songwriter Bill Lloyd, Robbins explains how he learned to play piano and became a professional musician, though he has been blind since the age of three. Robbins got his first big break when bassist Buddy Killen secured him an invitation to play on a 1959 George Jones session, which led to Robbins providing percussive piano figures on “White Lightning,” the first of many #1 hits to benefit from the musician’s contributions.
Around the same time, Nashville A-team session pianist Floyd Cramer began a solo career, leaving an opening for Robbins’s talents. Before long, Robbins was in steady demand, working with session regulars including guitarists Harold Bradley, Ray Edenton, and Grady Martin, drummer Buddy Harman, fiddler Tommy Jackson, and bassist Bob Moore, among others.
Robbins would go on to record with the greats of country music from the 1960s through the 1980s, including Country Music Hall of Fame members Patsy Cline, George Jones, Brenda Lee, Loretta Lynn, Roger Miller, Dolly Parton, Conway Twitty, Porter Wagoner, and Tammy Wynette.
One of Robbins’s great honors was being asked to play piano on sessions for other outstanding pianists, such as Ray Charles, Jerry Lee Lewis, and Charlie Rich. During the program, Robbins remembers playing in the studio with Rich, saying, “He’s a great piano player. With him standing five feet behind me, there’s a real pucker factor, I’ll tell you.”
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