Legendary Steel Guitarist Kayton Roberts Dead at 83
Kayton Roberts died in Nashville, at the age of 83, on Thursday (July 13). The longtime steel guitarist for Hank Snow's Rainbow Ranch Boys, Roberts also played with some of country's biggest stars -- including Ricky Skaggs, Marty Stuart, Randy Travis, Alison Krauss and more -- over the years.
According to CMT, Roberts was born in Ona, Fla., in November of 1933. He got his first guitar in elementary school and began playing music with his father's band. After performing with various groups on radio and TV stations throughout the 1950s, Roberts got his big break when steel guitarist Jerry Byrd recorded his song "Chime In" on an album in 1964.
Snow's fiddle player, Chubby Wise, also a native Floridian, introduced Roberts to Show, who hired him immediately. Roberts played rhythm guitar in Snow's band for a year before switching to steel, the instrument on which he remained for more than 30 years.
Roberts was inducted into the Steel Guitar Hall of Fame in 2012, following many world tours and performances on the Grand Ole Opry stage. His own discography includes the albums Steelin’, Kayton and Iva Lee Roberts, Twin Steel Guitars of Kayton Roberts & Little Roy Wiggins, The Bells of St. Mary’s and Valley of the Roses.
Roberts, per his obituary, was preceded in death by his wife, Iva Lee; he is survived by his children -- Louie Roberts (and spouse Fran), Jan Roberts-Williams (and spouse Les) and Martin Roberts (and spouse Tiffanie) -- and five grandchildren. A celebration of life service is scheduled for Sunday (July 23) at the Church at Grace Park in White House, Tenn.; visitation will take place 4PM-5PM, and the service will follow.
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