Ralph Mooney, Famed Steel Guitarist, Dies

Ralph Mooney, a pioneering steel guitarist who played on numerous country classics in the 1960s and 1970s, died Sunday (March 20) at his home in Arlington, Texas, of complications from cancer. He was 82. Mooney performed extensively with Waylon Jennings in the 1970s and 1980s, both on tour and in the studio, and his playing can be heard prominently in “Mammas Don’t Let Your Babies Grow Up to Be Cowboys,” Jennings’ iconic 1978 duet with Willie Nelson. In addition, Mooney’s music can be heard on many hits by Merle Haggard (“The Bottle Let Me Down,” “Swinging Doors”) and Buck Owens (“Under Your Spell Again,” “Foolin’ Around.”) His songwriting credits include Ray Price’s “Crazy Arms,” a 1956 single he wrote with Chuck Seals that spent 20 weeks at No. 1. Mooney had not performed often in recent years, but he was persuaded to record “Crazy Arms” on Marty Stuart’s latest album, Ghost Train: The Studio B Sessions, a project that won a Grammy earlier this year. Mooney will be buried Wednesday (March 23) in Arlington.