I was really saddened to find out that George 'Speedy' Krise died on June 9, 2011. He had a really moving memorial service today at a Baptist church in Chesapeake, and will be buried in Hinton, West Virginia, where he was born.

Speedy was 89 years old and his passing marks the end of an era in country music. I've known Speedy for about 6 years and have been visiting him in a nursing home since he had a stroke about a year ago. He was an incredibly nice guy and I am very sad that I can't spend more time with him.

Speedy was one of the true pioneers of the dobro in early country. He was one of those crucial sidemen in the classic bands who really invented the music and the playing styles. Speedy is credited with being the first the dobro player to record bluegrass during his stint playing in Carl Butler's band in 1950-51.

The music of Speedy's that most changed my own life was his groundbreaking playing on Molly O'Day's classic sessions for Columbia Records. That was an incredible band, with Skeets Williamson on fiddle, Speedy on dobro, Lynn Davis, on guitar, and Mac Wiseman on bass. All backing Molly's incredible voice.

I listened to "Lonely Mound of Clay" on the way to Speedy's memorial service and every part of that song is heartbreaking and perfect, from Speedy's intro and playing throughout to Molly's voice.

Speedy also performed for many years on radio stations like WJLS in Beckley, West Virginia and at the legendary WNOX in Knoxville throughout the 1940s and 1950s.

Speedy was a songwriter of note with songs recorded by Roy Acuff, Carl Butler, Mac Wiseman, and Jim & Jesse among others. It was from singing on a demo of Speedy's songs that Carl Smith first came to the attention of Peer-Southern Music and Columbia, launching his career. Speedy continued to play and record music after moving to Akron, Ohio, notably with his good friend Glenn Lehman.

Speedy had a lot of stories about his long career. He remembers eating fried chicken with Little Jimmie Dickens when the news came on the radio about the bombing of Pearl Harbor. He loved to play, sing, and talk about music until the very end, and after he couldn't play anymore he still sange. He even sang several songs at his 89th birthday party last month.

One of Speedy's lines that I remember most was "I always thought it wasn't country music if you don't play 'Maple on the Hill.'"

We'll miss you Speedy!


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