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Although known primarily as guitarist for the Sons of the Pioneers from 1961 through 1986, Roy Lanham also led the Whippoorwills for many years and performed as a solo artist, recording albums of country-jazz guitar instrumentals under his own name in the late '50s and early '60s. Despite his relative obscurity, Lanham is often esteemed on the level of such well-known guitar greats as Chet Atkins and Merle Travis. Lanham was born in Corbin, KY, on January 16, 1923, and picked up the guitar at an early age. Beginning as a teenager he found radio work as a rhythm guitarist in a number of instrumental combos, one of which was eventually hired by pop vocalist Gene Austin and renamed the Whippoorwills. In this group Lanham functioned as lead guitarist, performing in a jazzy style influenced by Charlie Christian and Django Reinhardt but distinguished by his development of a four-part harmony chord technique he would alternate with single-string figures. In 1943 Lanham joined Cincinnati's WLW, a 50,000-watt station that allowed him the opportunity to work with King Records, for which he soon performed regularly as a session guitarist, appearing on recordings by Hank Penny and the Delmore Brothers, among others. After participating in one Chet Atkins session in 1946 for the Bullet label, Lanham moved to Dayton and re-formed the Whippoorwills. For the next few years the combo toured, recorded transcriptions for Smiley Burnette's radio show in Hollywood and collaborated with Merle Travis on six sides for Capitol in the early '50s. It was during his tenure with Smiley Burnette's show that Lanham first met the Sons of the Pioneers, who invited the Whippoorwills to fill in for them on their radio show while the Sons were on tour. Lanham found additional session work recording separately with Johnny and Dorsey Burnette as well as Johnny Horton, Jim Reeves, Bonnie Guitar, the Browns, and the Fleetwoods, in addition to recording singles under his own name and with the Whippoorwills. The success of the Fleetwoods singles on which he appeared led to his recording of a solo LP in 1959 and the sole Whippoorwills album, Sizzling Strings, later that year. ~ Greg Adams, Rovi