ATTENTION Canadian Steelers! Send us your Biography and we’ll put it up on this site for you. Try to include some interesting highlights of your musical history; who you have played with, the equipment you use (or have used), etc. The quality of this site will depend on pedal steel guitar players remitting their Biographies to us, we are not responsible for outdated or inaccurate information.
I grew up in Lethbridge Alberta, and currently make my home in Edmonton. In the eighteen or so years in between those two towns I divided my time mostly between Toronto and Vancouver. I make a living in the labour law business, and moved back here to become Chair of Alberta’s Labour Relations Board. But music has been an abiding passion for me, and of all my achievememnts, the one I am proudest of is achieving a level of proficiency on pedal steel.
Canada’s Ambassador of the Steel Guitar
Born & raised on the family ‘APPLEDALE’ farm in the community of NORTHCOTE, near RENFREW, ONTARIO, CANADA, where early musical influences included the school & church. Five years of piano music lessons plus learning some chords on the acoustic guitar lead to playing bass at the age of 16 with country bands.
Worked with the local groups “The Melody Ramblers” for 15 years (1980-1995) at fairs, festivals, weddings and bars (one of Michelle Wright’s first bands, where I was a bass player 1979-1980) and opened up for her in 1991 at Chatham’s Jaycee Fair.
Worked with the “B.J. Preston Band” occasionally at clubs, fairs, and festivals. Had to opportunity to open up for such acts as Suzanne Gitzi – 1996, Duane Steel – 1996, Jason McCoy – 1996, Blue Rodeo – 1995.
Gene Brown started playing music professionally at the age of 14 on bass guitar.
He played nightclubs and social events for many years and eventually made music a full time career. He started playing pedal steel guitar at the age of 17 and that became his principle musical instrument. Gene did not start writing songs and singing professionally until around the age of 20 and moved on to Portland, Oregon to be closer to the music scene.
(COMMONLY KNOWN AS JC)
I began taking steel guitar lessons at age 12, at the Ontario Conservatory of Music. This is where I met Buddy Cage. Him and I were being taught by Ken Near. Buddy and I went to the same high school. We were considered freaks because when all the other kids were going to rock concerts Buddy and I were going to Ernest Tubb, Ray Price, and Faron Young concerts.
My interest in steel guitar started in my teens and my inspiration came from Buddy Emmons and Tom Brumley who played with Buck Owens at the time.
My first steel was a lap top Gibson and we built a table for it to play it sitting down. My second steel was a home made steel designed like the national with the pedals on the side, and I converted it to the pedals being on the front. The cables were made out of guitar strings. I couldn’t press too hard or I would break a string.
I’ve played steel since I was 21 (took out a loan and just bought a new MSA D10 steel and amp so I knew I’d better learn at least a few licks) Influences: Buddy Cage, Buddy Emmons, Paul Franklin, Pete Drake
I was into the country/rock stuff in the seventies (before it was cool) Played with many local bands…Moonshine Molly, Red Hot Burritos, Milo Ford & The Barnburners, and Eddie Lester & The Lonesome, Handsome Devils.
Born in ’69, Ken was the son of Oakville Piano technician, John E. Lillico- learned some cello, and classical as a boy, before being bitten by the ‘country bug’ in the early ’80’s Ken has had some degree of success in building his own guitars, “LILLICOsteel” & has assembled and busked with the following…
Andy is originally from Trenton and now resides in Kingston, Ontario.
Andy started playing Steel Guitar at the age of 15 and took lessons from local musician Phil Forsythe. In 1994 Andy was offered an audition with Universal recording artist Jason McCoy. He was then offered the privilege to be Jason’s Pedal Steel Guitar Player.
During the following seven years and many tours across Canada Andy was nominated by the Canadian Country Music Association; 5 times CCMA Pedal Steel Player of the Year and 3 times CCMA Back Up Band of the Year.
Started playing in Germany at the age of 15 in my Dad’s band, playing American & Canadian Forces Bases during the four years we were living over there.
Came back to Canada in 1963 & played locally around Ontario, then moved to Florida and did another tour of Europe with “The Calhoun Twins”. Played the Grand Ole Opry in 1967, & did recording sessions with this group in Nashville, on Pete Drake’s ‘STOP RECORDS’ label.
Started playing in 1956 as a bass player around the Eastern Townships (Frelighsburg, P.Q.) for a year until I saw a player named George Essery from Montreal who had a home made pedal steel and was playing with Tommy Hunter at the Brome Fairgrounds. I had heard a pedal steel on the “Dusty Owens” show on WWVA but had no idea how they worked. I was hooked. George made me a little “tee” with two set-screws that went down between the first two strings of a six string steel and hooked a chain around my foot. After sticking three wobbly legs in holes there was my first pedal guitar. I used this little “string stretcher” on various regulat steels for a few years until I bought a Fender “400” the later on graduated to Sho-Bud.
I was born on September 2nd, 1940 in Sydney Mines, Nova Scotia. After seeing a few western movies I became a fan of the guitar right away and dreamed of playing one before I was 10 years old.
Around 1952 my parents let me sign up for guitar lessons and I along with about 150 other kids arrived at a large hall after school one day and they started passing around Stella Guitars to everyone. However when my turn came they passed me a flat metal bar along with the guitar. That’s not what I had in mind at all. I wanted to play with the fingers like I saw in the movies. Being too shy to express my true desire I decided to go with the steel bar for a few weeks and see what happened. I still have that flat steel bar.