Floyd Cramer Biography
Floyd Cramer (October 27, 1933 – December 31, 1997) was an American Hall of Fame pianist who was one of the architects of the "Nashville Sound."
Born in Shreveport, Louisiana, Cramer grew up in the small town of Huttig, Arkansas, teaching himself to play the piano. After finishing high school he returned to Shreveport where he worked as a pianist for the Louisiana Hayride radio show. In 1952, he made his way to Nashville, Tennessee at a time when the use of piano accompanists in country music was growing in popularity. Before long Cramer would become one of the busiest studio musicians in the industry, playing piano for stars such as Elvis Presley, Brenda Lee, Patsy Cline, The Browns, Jim Reeves, Roy Orbison, Don Gibson and the Everly Brothers amongst many others. It is Cramer's piano that is heard, for example, on Presley's first national hit, "Heartbreak Hotel."
However, Cramer remained a virtual unknown to anyone but music industry insiders until he recorded a 45 rpm single in 1960 called "Last Date." An instrumental, the music exhibited a relatively new concept for piano playing known as the "slip note" style. The record went to No.2 on the Billboard Hot 100 pop music chart. By the mid-1960s, Cramer had become a respected performer, making numerous albums and touring with guitar maestro Chet Atkins and saxophonist Boots Randolph.
Floyd Cramer died of lung cancer in 1997 at the age of 64 and was interred in the Spring Hill Cemetery in the Nashville suburb of Madison, Tennessee.
In 2003, he was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
East Tennessee State University in Johnson City, Tennessee, offers the "Floyd Cramer Competitive Scholarship."