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Floyd Cramer
Cramer in 1965
Cramer in 1965
Background information
Birth nameFloyd Cramer
BornOctober 27, 1933
Shreveport, Louisiana, U.S.
Origin Huttig, Arkansas, U.S.
DiedDecember 31, 1997(1997-12-31) (aged 64)
Nashville, Tennessee
Occupation(s) Pianist
Years active1953−1980

Floyd Cramer (October 27, 1933 – December 31, 1997) was an American pianist who became famous for his use of melodic "whole-step" attacks. He was inducted into both the Country Music Hall of Fame [1] and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. His signature playing style was a cornerstone of the pop-oriented "Nashville sound" of the 1950s and 1960s. [2] Cramer's "slip-note" or "bent-note" style, in which a passing note slides almost instantly into or away from a chordal note, influenced a generation of pianists. [3] His sound became popular to the degree that he stepped out of his role as a sideman and began touring as a solo act. [4] In 1960, his piano instrumental solo, " Last Date" went to number two on the Billboard Hot 100 pop music chart and sold over one million copies. Its follow-up, " On the Rebound", topped the UK Singles Chart in 1961. As a studio musician, he became one of a cadre of elite players dubbed the Nashville A-Team and he performed on scores of hit records.

A pianist demonstrating Floyd Cramer's "bent-note" piano style


Cramer was born in Shreveport, Louisiana, and grew up in the small town of Huttig, Arkansas. He taught himself to play the piano. After finishing high school, he returned to Shreveport, where he worked as a pianist for the radio show Louisiana Hayride.

After Elvis Presley performed on Louisiana Hayride in 1955, he hired his own band which included Cramer, Jimmy Day, Scotty Moore, Bill Black, and D.J. Fontana. This group remained his supporting band for much of that year; however, when Presley asked them to relocate to Hollywood, Cramer and Day declined to follow him there, preferring to remain in Nashville to pursue independent careers as studio musicians. [5] In Nashville, Cramer found that piano accompaniment in country music was growing in popularity. By the next year he was, in his words, "in day and night doing session". [6] Before long, he was one of the busiest studio musicians in the industry, playing piano for stars such as Elvis Presley, Brenda Lee, Patsy Cline, the Browns, Jim Reeves, Eddy Arnold, Roy Orbison, Don Gibson, and the Everly Brothers, among others. [7] It was Cramer's piano playing, for instance, on Presley's first RCA Victor single, " Heartbreak Hotel". While Cramer was well-established as a session player, he had a long career as a solo performer with dozens of his own albums and singles, including some Top 40 instrumental hits.

Cramer had released records under his own name since the early 1950s and became well known following the release of " Last Date", a 45-rpm single, released by RCA Victor in 1960. [8] The instrumental piece exhibited a relatively new concept in piano playing known as the "slip note" style. The record went to number two on the Billboard Hot 100 pop music chart, sold over one million copies, and was awarded a gold disc. The song was kept out of the number 1 position by Elvis Presley's " Are You Lonesome Tonight?" [9] The session pianist for Elvis's recording of that #1 song, in a very early morning session (about 4:00 AM) at RCA Studio B in Nashville, was none other than Floyd Cramer himself.

Trying to launch myself on a solo career, after being Elvis Presley's pianist for so long, placed me in an unenviable position. Some people thought I was trying to cash in. If I had wanted to cash in on my association with Elvis, I would have done it five years ago.

—  NME - November 1961 [10]

In 1961, Cramer had a hit with " On the Rebound", which went to number 4, and number 1 on the UK Singles Chart. [11] ("On the Rebound" was featured during the opening credits of the 2009 Oscar-nominated film An Education, which was set in England in 1961.) Also in 1961, Cramer had a hit with " San Antonio Rose" (number 8).

By the mid-1960s, Cramer had become a respected performer, making numerous albums and touring with guitar maestro Chet Atkins and saxophonist Boots Randolph, sometimes headlining and sometimes as the opening act for Eddy Arnold. Cramer also performed with them as a member of the Million Dollar Band.

Cramer died of lung cancer on New Year's Eve, 1997, at the age of 64. He was interred in the Spring Hill Cemetery in the Nashville suburb of Madison, Tennessee.


Cramer’s grandson, Jason Coleman, followed in his footsteps taking up the piano, performing with him on television and in concert at a young age. At age 17, he played " Please Help Me, I'm Falling", the first song to feature Cramer's signature slip notes, with Hank Locklin at the Grand Ole Opry, and two years later played piano for the Medallion Ceremony at Cramer's induction into the Country Music Hall of Fame. He carries on his grandfather's legacy with recordings and a touring tribute concert, The Piano Magic of Floyd Cramer, sharing the piano arrangements and story of Cramer's contributions to American music.


In 2003, Cramer was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. In 2004, his recording of "Last Date" was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame, established to honor recordings of lasting qualitative or historical significance. In 2008, Cramer was inducted into the Louisiana Music Hall of Fame.

East Tennessee State University, in Johnson City, Tennessee, offers the Floyd Cramer Competitive Scholarship.



Year Album Chart Positions Label
US Country US
1957 That Honky Tonk Piano MGM Records
1960 Hello Blues RCA Victor
1961 Last Date
On the Rebound 70
1962 America's Biggest Selling Pianist
Floyd Cramer Gets Organ-ized 113
I Remember Hank Williams 130
1963 Swing Along with Floyd Cramer
Comin' On
Three Great Pianos (with Peter Nero and Frankie Carle)
1964 Country Piano-City Strings
Cramer at the Console
The Best of Floyd Cramer
1965 Hits from the Country Hall of Fame 10
Class of '65 107
The Magic Touch of Floyd Cramer
1966 The Distinctive Piano Style of Floyd Cramer
Only the Big Ones
Class of '66 123
1967 Night Train
Here's What's Happening! 20 166
Floyd Cramer Plays the Monkees
Class of '67 21
We Wish You a Merry Christmas 26
1968 Floyd Cramer Plays Country Classics 16
Class of '68
Floyd Cramer Plays MacArthur Park 36
The Best of Floyd Cramer Volume 2
1969 Class of '69 31
Floyd Cramer Plays More Country Classics 17
1970 The Big Ones, Vol. 2 183
With the Music City Pops
This Is Floyd Cramer 39
Class of '70 43
1971 Almost Persuaded
Chet, Floyd & Boots (with Chet Atkins and Boots Randolph)
Sounds of Sunday 44
Class of '71 34
1972 Detours
Class of '72
Best of the Class of Floyd Cramer
Date with Floyd Cramer
1973 Floyd Cramer Plays the Big Hits
Super Country Hits
Class of '73 34
1974 Young and Restless
Spotlight On
Floyd Cramer in Concert 25
1975 Piano Masterpieces 1900–1975
Class of '74 and '75
1976 Floyd Cramer Country 46
1977 Floyd Cramer & the Keyboard Kick Band 50
Chet, Floyd & Danny (with Chet Atkins and Danny Davis) 46
1978 Looking for Mr. Goodbar
1979 Super Hits
1980 Dallas 29 170
1981 Great Country Hits
The Best of the West
1982 20 of the Best
1985 Collector's Date
Country Classics Pair Records
1988 Special Songs of Love Step One Records
Country Gold
Just Me and My Piano
1989 Forever Floyd Cramer
We Wish You a Merry Christmas
1991 Gospel Classics
1994 The Piano Magic of Floyd Cramer Ranwood
1995 Favorite Country Hits 1
1996 The Piano Magic of Floyd Cramer 2
1997 Blue Skies
Favorite Country Hits 2


Year Single Chart Positions Album
US Country US R&B US AC UK
1958 "Flip Flop and Bop" 87 Last Date
1960 " Last Date" 2 11 3
1961 " On the Rebound" 4 16 1 On the Rebound
" San Antonio Rose" 8 8 3 36
"Your Last Goodbye" 63 America's Biggest Selling Pianist
"Hang On" 95
1962 " Chattanooga Choo Choo" 36 9 (single only)
"Let's Go" 90 Floyd Cramer Gets Organ-ized
" Lovesick Blues" 87 20 I Remember Hank Williams
"Hot Pepper" 63 46 (singles only)
" Swing Low" 110
"Losers Weepers" 127
1963 " Java" 49 12 Swing Along with Floyd Cramer
"(These Are) The Young Years" 129 Comin' On
"How High the Moon" 121 (single only)
"Heartless Heart" 124 Country Piano-City Strings
1967 "Stood Up" 53 24 (single only)
1968 " By the Time I Get to Phoenix" 32
1970 "Theme from 222" 39
1977 " Rhythm of the Rain" 67 Floyd Cramer & the Keyboard Kick Band
1980 "Dallas"A 104 32 34 Dallas
  • A"Dallas", a cover version of the theme to the popular TV series, peaked at No. 8 on the RPM Country Tracks chart in Canada.

See also


  1. ^ "Country Music Hall of Fame To Welcome Floyd Cramer and Carl Smith". Broadcast Music. August 13, 2003. Retrieved March 3, 2021.
  2. ^ Ankeny, Jason. "Floyd Cramer". AllMusic/Netaktion. Retrieved March 3, 2021.
  3. ^ "Floyd Cramer, 64, Pianist With a Nashville Sound". The New York Times. January 2, 1998. p. D–7. Retrieved March 2, 2021.
  4. ^ Fulks, Sonny. "Remembering Floyd Cramer . . . and one last date!". PressPros Magazine. Retrieved March 13, 2021.
  5. ^ Ankeny, Jason. "Jimmy Day". AllMusic, Netaktion. Retrieved February 28, 2021.
  6. ^ "Floyd Cramer" Archived 2015-04-13 at the Wayback Machine, Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum. Retrieved September 17, 2014.
  7. ^ Chet Atkins interviewed on the Pop Chronicles (1969)
  8. ^ "Last Date" is the closing theme of Ray Hadley's radio show on Sydney's radio station 2GB.
  9. ^ Murrells, Joseph (1978). The Book of Golden Discs (2nd ed.). London: Barrie and Jenkins. p.  123. ISBN  0-214-20512-6.
  10. ^ Tobler, John (1992). NME Rock 'N' Roll Years (1st ed.). London: Reed International Books Ltd. p. 100. CN 5585.
  11. ^ Rice, Jo (1982). The Guinness Book of 500 Number One Hits. Enfield, Middlesex: Guinness Superlatives. p. 57. ISBN  0-85112-250-7.
  12. ^ Whitburn, Joel (2011). Top Pop Singles 1955–2010. Record Research, Inc. p. 207. ISBN  978-0-89820-188-8.

Other sources

  • Escott, Colin (1998), "Floyd Cramer". In Paul Kingsbury (ed.), The Encyclopedia of Country Music, New York: Oxford University Press., pp. 117–18.

External links