Hargus Robbins, Pianist on Place Audio Hits, Dies at 84

Ora Sawyers

NASHVILLE — Hargus “Pig” Robbins, a single of nation music’s most prolific session piano players and a vital contributor to Bob Dylan’s landmark 1966 album, “Blonde on Blonde,” died on Sunday in Franklin, Tenn. He was 84.

His dying, at the Williamson Health-related Heart, just outside the house Nashville, was verified by his son, David. The cause has not been recognized, he mentioned.

A longtime member of Nashville’s so-named A-Group of first-get in touch with studio musicians, Mr. Robbins appeared on countless numbers of preferred recordings manufactured here among the late 1950s and the mid-2010s.

Quite a few grew to become No. 1 nation singles, such as Hank Snow’s “I’ve Been Everywhere” (1962), Loretta Lynn’s “Don’t Appear Residence a-Drinkin’ (With Lovin’ on Your Mind)” (1966) and Dolly Parton’s “I Will Generally Adore You” (1974). Numerous crossed above to develop into big pop hits, between them Patsy Cline’s “I Drop to Pieces” (1961) and Kenny Rogers’s “The Gambler” (1978).

An instinctive melodicist who valued understatement about flash, Mr. Robbins aided set up the piano as an integral portion of the smooth, uncluttered Nashville Audio of the 1960s. He was a big explanation that people and rock acts like Joan Baez and Mr. Dylan commenced traveling to Nashville to undertake the impromptu solution to recording popularized here.

The former Kingston Trio member John Stewart referred to Mr. Robbins as “first-get Hargus Robbins” in listing the Nashville classes who appeared on the closing monitor of Mr. Stewart’s acclaimed 1969 album, “California Bloodlines.” Mr. Stewart was acknowledging Mr. Robbins’s knack for playing musical passages flawlessly the initial time by means of.

Mr. Robbins’s affect was potentially most pronounced as the Nashville Audio progressed into the more soul-steeped “countrypolitan” design and style read on records like George Jones’s 1980 blockbuster one, “He Stopped Loving Her Today.”

Mr. Robbins’s rippling, jazz-inflected intros to Charlie Rich’s “Behind Closed Doors” (1973) and Crystal Gayle’s “Don’t It Make My Brown Eyes Blue” (1977) grew to become enduring expressions of the Southern musical vernacular of their period. Equally documents had been No. 1 country and crossover pop singles.

“Of all the musicians on my periods, he stood the tallest,” the producer and A-Group guitarist Jerry Kennedy claimed of Mr. Robbins in an exhibit at the Place Audio Corridor of Fame, in which Mr. Robbins is enshrined.

“He has been a spine for Nashville,” included Mr. Kennedy, who worked with Mr. Robbins on hits by Roger Miller and Jerry Lee Lewis as effectively as on “Blonde on Blonde.”

Mr. Robbins obtained his nickname, Pig, while attending the Tennessee University for the Blind in Nashville as a boy.

“I had a supervisor who termed me that mainly because I made use of to sneak in by means of a fireplace escape and engage in when I wasn’t meant to and I’d get filthy as a pig,” Mr. Robbins reported in an interview cited in the Encyclopedia of State Music.

He missing vision in 1 eye when he was 3, immediately after unintentionally poking himself with a knife. The hurt eye was finally taken off, and Mr. Robbins eventually missing sight in his other eye as perfectly.

He researched classical new music at the Faculty for the Blind, but he would also perform jazz, honky-tonk and barrelhouse blues.

His extensive-ranging preferences served him effectively, equipping him for function on soul recordings like Clyde McPhatter’s 1962 pop strike, “Lover Please” (the place he was inscrutably credited as Mel “Pigue” Robbins), and Arthur Alexander’s “Anna (Go to Him),” a Major 10 R&B one from 1962 included by the Beatles.

Afforded the probability to stretch out stylistically on “Blonde on Blonde,” Mr. Robbins played with raucous abandon on “Rainy Day Females #12 & 35,” the woozy, carnivalesque No. 2 pop strike hooked by the tagline “Everybody must get stoned.” He utilized a tender lyricism, by contrast, on elegiac ballads like “Just Like a Woman” and “Sad Eyed Woman of the Lowlands.”

Hargus Melvin Robbins was born on Jan. 18, 1938, in Spring Metropolis, Tenn., to Raymond and Olis (Boles) Robbins.

His first significant split came in 1959 when the tunes publisher Buddy Killen secured him an invitation to enjoy on Mr. Jones’s “White Lightning.” Spurred by Mr. Robbins’s rollicking boogie-woogie piano, the report turned a No. 1 state one.

Another prospect came two many years later on, when the producer Owen Bradley, needing another person to fill in for the A-Crew pianist Floyd Cramer, hired Mr. Robbins to perform on the session for Ms. Cline’s “I Fall to Items.” Mr. Cramer before long embarked on a solo vocation, generating an opening for Mr. Robbins on the A-Group.

Mr. Robbins flirted with a solo job in the 1950s, recording rockabilly originals under the name Mel Robbins. “Save It,” an obscure single from 1959, was covered by the garage-punks the Cramps on their 1983 album, “Off the Bone.”

1 of his instrumental albums, “Country Instrumentalist of the 12 months,” received a Grammy Award for ideal state instrumental effectiveness in 1978.

Functioning as a session musician was yet his inventory in trade, as a scene from Robert Altman’s 1975 motion picture “Nashville” memorably attests. Upbraiding his recording engineer when a hippie piano player nicknamed Frog displays up to get the job done on their session in its place of Mr. Robbins, the narcissistic country singer played by Henry Gibson shouts, “When I check with for Pig, I want Pig!”

Mr. Robbins was named nation instrumentalist of the 12 months by the State Music Affiliation in 1976 and 2000. Even immediately after he was inducted into the Place New music Corridor of Fame in 2012, he continued — then in his 70s — to do studio do the job with latter-day hitmakers like Miranda Lambert and Sturgill Simpson.

Besides his son, he is survived by a few brothers, Billy, Forrest and Boyd. His wife, Vicki West Robbins, whom he married in 1967, died in August 2019.

Shedding his vision might or might not have served Mr. Robbins cultivate a keener musical sensibility. His participating in, in any situation, uncovered a determination to listening and creativeness that experienced him responding to his collaborators with a singular depth of feeling.

“Pig Robbins is the very best session man I’ve at any time known,” stated Charlie McCoy, a fellow A-Teamer, at a reception held in Mr. Robbins’s honor at the Country Audio Corridor of Fame. “Anytime Pig’s on a session, absolutely everyone else performs greater.”

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