John Hughey, 73; member of Steel Guitar Hall of Fame toured with Conway Twitty

From Times Staff and Wire Reports

John Hughey, 73, a steel guitar player who toured for years with country legend Conway Twitty and recorded with Elvis Presley and many other stars, died Sunday at a hospital in Hendersonville, Tenn., his publicist said.

The Tennessean newspaper in Nashville reported that he died of heart problems.

Hughey was credited with developing a unique style of playing that focused on the instrument’s high tones, resulting in a distinctive “crying sound.”

Born in 1935 in Elaine, Ark., he started playing professionally in the early 1950s with a Memphis-based band, Slim Rhodes and Mother’s Best Mountaineers.


From 1968 to ’88, he played with Twitty, who was a schoolmate of Hughey’s, as a member of his backing band, first called the Lonely Blue Boys and then the Twitty Birds.

Hughey also recorded songs with Presley, Loretta Lynn, Marty Stuart, Willie Nelson, Dickey Betts of the Allman Brothers and others. He recorded and toured with Vince Gill for about 12 years.

A member of the Steel Guitar Hall of Fame, Hughey still played live regularly with the Time Jumpers, a western swing band composed of top Nashville session players.