Paul Franklin, one of the most-recorded pedal steel guitarists in country music history, talks with musician Bill Lloyd about his journey from teen prodigy to a career in Nashville that has included significant work with Country Music Hall of Fame members including Vince Gill, Alan Jackson, Barbara Mandrell, Jerry Reed, George Strait, Mel Tillis, Dottie West, and Hank Williams Jr.
Raised in Detroit, Franklin began playing music in bars at age ten. His father, Paul Franklin Sr., was enamored of the pedal steel playing of Bud Isaacs on Webb Pierce’s hit “Slowly” and soon bought his son a steel guitar. When Bill Anderson’s steel player, Sonny Garrish, heard the young Franklin playing, he tipped Anderson to the boy’s talents and Anderson invited Franklin to appear on his syndicated television show in 1967.
During the conversation with Lloyd (a guitarist, songwriter, and member of 1980s hit-making duo Foster & Lloyd), Paul Franklin shares numerous photos from his childhood and his career, and Lloyd punctuates the talk with audio clips from Franklin’s best-known recorded performances (Strait’s “Something Special to Me,” Jackson’s “Here in the Real World”) and least-known works (even playing the adventurous “Laser Dance,” from his 1978 solo album).
Franklin also speaks about arriving in Nashville as a young man, working the road with Mandrell, Reed, and others, and eventually finding his way into studio work with country legends (and stage work in Mark Knopfler’s band and the Grammy-winning Time Jumpers).
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