Famous Pickers Launch Musicians Hall of Fame and Museum

Newest Nashville Tourist Attraction Will Open in June

Some of the most-listened-to pickers on the planet turned out in Nashville Tuesday (April 11) to support the establishment of the Musicians Hall of Fame and Museum. The celebration was held in the building at 301 Sixth Ave. South that will house the new tourist attraction and music school.

On hand to applaud the new hall — which is due to open the second week of June — were Rock and Roll Hall of Famer Duane Eddy, Grand Ole Opry star and ace guitarist Steve Wariner, Elvis Presley’s guitarists Scotty Moore and James Burton, former Chicago drummer Danny Seraphine, former Toto bassist David Hungate, pop and country guitarist Reggie Young, Motown Records session bassist Bob Babbitt, original Nashville A-Team bassist Bob Moore and pianist Hargus “Pig” Robbins and Bobby Wood, the pianist on all Garth Brooks’ hit records.

Housed in what was once a warehouse in downtown Nashville, the 30,000-square feet facility is within a few blocks of the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum, the Gaylord Entertainment Center and Ryman Auditorium. It is the brainchild of Joe Chambers, a songwriter who owns a small chain of guitar stores in the Nashville area.

Tuesday’s event was part open house, part press conference. The ceremonies opened with the playing of a promotional DVD in which such figures as Neil Young, Brooks and Wariner endorsed the idea of having such a museum. Young drew the most applause from the crowd when he said, “You can look at the hood ornament on the car if you go to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. But if you want to see the engine, go to the Musicians Hall of Fame.” Brooks called the new museum “as great if not greater than the Country Music Hall of Fame.”

In his brief remarks, Eddy said he began the practice of listing the names of all his sidemen with his first album. “A lot of people know these [musicians],” he noted. “They’re just not high profile.”

Asked what it cost him to open the museum, Chambers at first declined to answer but then joked, “More than I thought I could borrow.” He noted the museum will have a working recording studio where visitors can see actual recording sessions in progress. He said the music school division will be nonprofit and encouraged corporations to contribute to its operation so that economically challenged students can attend.

Chambers said only musicians — and not music industry executives — will vote on those inducted into the hall of fame, adding that so many musicians deserve the honor, many will be added at the outset. “It’s not going to be three or four a year,” he promised. “There’ll be a bunch of them.” He pointed out time and again that the museum will honor musicians from all styles of music.

Moreover, Chambers stressed, musicians in the hall will be accorded proper respect for their contributions. “We’re not going to nail a shoe on the wall and put somebody’s name beside it,” he vowed. “We’re going to tell their stories.”

Artifacts already acquired for display include the late Pete Drake’s steel guitar he played on Bob Dylan’s “Lay Lady Lay” and George Harrison’s All Things Must Pass album and the upright bass Floyd “Lightnin'” Chance played on Hank Williams’ “Your Cheatin’ Heart” and Conway Twitty’s “It’s Only Make Believe.” The collection also includes the piano that songwriter-producer Billy Sherrill used to write or co-write such hits as “Almost Persuaded,” “The Most Beautiful Girl” and “Stand by Your Man.”

Edward Morris is a veteran of country music journalism. He lives in Nashville, Tennessee, and is a frequent contributor to CMT.com.