Our sincere condolences go out to the family of Fred Carter, Jr., legendary Nashville guitarist, who passed away on July 17 from stroke-related causes at Vanderbilt University Medical Center. Carter was the third of seven children born to Fred and Hattie “Tillie” Carter of Winnsboro, Louisiana. A loving husband and father, Carter is survived by his wife of 49 years, Anna; his sons, Ronnie and Jeff; his daughter, recording artist Deana Carter (singer of ”Strawberry Wine”); and his five grandchildren. Funeral services will be held on Tuesday, July 20 at Woodlawn Roesch-Patton Funeral Home in Nashville.
Born in the Louisiana delta, Fred Carter, Jr. cut his teeth on country, blues, gospel, and jazz, combining them all into the art form that would later become Rock and Roll. Carter began his career as staff guitarist on the legendary Louisiana Hayride, working alongside Horace Logan and a revolving cast of country hitmakers. After leaving the Hayride, Carter played a significant role in the development of Rockabilly and Rock and Roll through his guitar work with Conway Twitty, Roy Orbison, Dale Hawkins, and Ronnie Hawkins & the Hawks.
Settling in Nashville in the late 1950s, Carter quickly moved into the “A-Team,” first-call session work that defines the Nashville recording industry. There, Carter worked with a steady stream of legendary recording artists, including country greats such as Willie Nelson, Dolly Parton, Waylon Jennings, and Kris Kristofferson, as well as contributions to the classics of Simon & Garfunkel, Bob Dylan, and Muddy Waters. Throughout his career, Carter maintained a lifelong association with Levon Helm, including Helm’s RCO All-Stars, which included Steve Cropper, Donald “Duck” Dunn, Booker T. and the MG’s, Dr. John, Paul Butterfield, and the Saturday Night Live Horns.
Carter was also a prolific songwriter, writing alongside the likes of Harlan Howard, Willie Nelson, and Hank Cochran. Carter’s songs have been recorded by artists as diverse as Dean Martin, Chet Atkins, and Burl Ives.