Glenn Snoddy, the Man Behind ‘The Nashville Sound,’ Dies at Age 96
Glenn Snoddy, the man credited with inventing the distorted, fuzzy electric guitar effect that became known as "the Nashville sound," died on Monday (May 21) at his home in Murfreesboro. He was 96 years old.
Snoddy's claim to country music fame traces back to 1960, when he was working as an engineer on a Marty Robbins song, "Don't Worry," and noticed a fluke in the sound quality of a guitar riff in the song. Snoddy was at work at the Quonset Hut Studios, owned by legendary record producers Harold and Owen Bradley (the latter of whom is pictured above on the right), when session guitarist Grady Martin's guitar produced an unexpectedly fuzzy sound.
"We thought there was something wrong, and something was wrong," Snoddy told the Daily News Journal in 2016. "The transformer in the amplifier blew up."
However, what started as an accident quickly became an all-out craze: Musicians and fans alike loved the effect, and artists began asking Snoddy to recreate it for their own recordings. "I had to get busy and figure out how to do this if we wanted to keep this sound. So I took apart [the console] and figured out how to make [that distorted sound]," Snoddy explained. The result was the famed "Nashville sound" (not to be confused with The Nashville Sound, the 2017 studio album from Jason Isbell.)
Fortunately, Snoddy had knowledge of where to start. During his time in the Army, he worked as a radio repairman, and had done some additional tinkering with transistors in the past. He built the first ever distortion pedal, which featured a button musicians could push to create the effect. This creation led to the development of the Maestro Fuzz-Tone, which Gibson soon bought the rights to manufacture. The first widely available Fuzz-Town appeared in 1962.
The sound quickly garnered popularity among country and rock 'n' roll musicians alike, and gained a special level of notoriety when Rolling Stones guitarist Keith Richards used a Fuzz-Tone to record the hit "(I Can't Get No) Satisfaction."
Snoddy continued to be a legend in the Nashville music industry for the rest of his career. He went on to open Woodland Studios in 1966, and recorded legendary country tracks such as Johnny Cash's "Ring of Fire" and all four of the tracks cut by Hank Williams during his last studio session: "Your Cheatin' Heart," "Kaw-Liga," "Take These Chains From My Heart" and "I Could Never Be Ashamed of Loving You."
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