Walter Louis Garland was born on November 11, 1930 in Cowpens, South Carolina. He began playing the guitar at the age of 6. He appeared on local radio shows at the age of 12 and was discovered at 14 at a South Carolina recording store. He moved to Nashville when he was 16, staying in Ma Upchurch's boarding house, where he was roommates with upright bassist Bob Moore and fiddler Dale Potter.
He is well known for his work on Elvis Presley's recordings from 1957 to 1961 which produced rock hits like "Little Sister", "I Need Your Love Tonight" and "A Big Hunk O' Love". However, Walter Garland also worked with many country music as well as rock 'n roll stars of the late 1950s and early 1960s suck as Patsy Cline, Brenda Lee, Mel Tillis, Marty Robbins, the Everly Brothers, Boots Randolph, Roy
Orbison and Conway Twitty.
He also played with jazz artists including George Shearing and Charlie Parker in New York and went on to record Jazz Winds From a New Direction, showcasing his evolving talent.
In September 1961, he was playing for the soundtrack of Presley's movie, Follow That Dream when a car accident put Walter Garland in a coma that lasted for a week. With the help of his wife, he re-learned how to walk, talk, and play the guitar though he never recovered sufficiently to return to recording.
Many believed electroconvulsive therapy, prescribed by his doctors, may have caused more damage to his brain, but little evidence exists to support the theory.
Why is Hank Garland famous?
Hank Garland was a Nashville studio musician who performed with Elvis Presley, Patsy Cline, Roy Orbison and various others.
Why do we like Hank Garland?
At the request of Gibson Guitar company president, Ted McCarty, Walter Garland and fellow guitarist Billy Byrd strongly influenced the design of the Byrdland guitar (seen in the photograph).
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