John Hughey Bio

I was born: John Robert Hughey
December 27, 1933 - November 18, 2007
Elaine, Arkansas
Check this picture from 1954 out!!

When I was 9 years old, my family moved to Horn Lake, Mississippi. Our first year there I got my first guitar for Christmas. It was a Gene Autry flat-top from Sears. A friend of ours that lived down the road from us played a little rhythm. He showed me a few chords.
To make a long story kinda short,we moved back to Helena, Arkansas when I was 12 years old. I had passed to the 7th grade in school. When school started back, there was a boy in my class named Harold Jenkins. We became real close friends but not close enough to know that he sang and played a little guitar.
There was a band that played on KFFA, a local radio station. They were called "The Arkansas Cotton Choppers," and they played every Thursday night. One night we were listening to them, and I heard them announce Harold Jenkins' name, and he sang a song. I jumped up and hollered to my parents, "I know that guy; he's in my room at school!!!"

John in 1961 at the Little Black Book in Memphis.

So the next day at school, I told him that I didn't know that he sang and played and that I had heard him on the radio. So our friendship got tighter. We started getting together at each other's house and pickin' and singin'. I made a rack from a coat hanger to put around my neck to hold a harmonica, and I started doin' some intros and turnarounds to some of the songs we were doin'.

In the meantime, there was a syndicated radio show on our local station every afternoon about 4 o'clock. I used to hear it everyday when I got home from school. It was the Eddy Arnold "Purina Chow Show." "Little" Roy Wiggins was playing steel. I didn't know that it was a steel; I just knew that I liked the sound of whatever it was I was hearing. Time rocked on, and one thursday night my Daddy took me to the radio station to watch the Arkansas Cotton Choppers play and sing. To my amazement, there was a little guy sittin' over in the corner with this thing layin' on his lap.

Scene from Route 66 in 1962.

When they started to play, I knew instantly that it was the same thing that I was hearing on the Eddy Arnold show. When we left the station, I told my Dad that was what I wanted. He said,"No, Son; you don't want one of those things." I kept telling him that I wanted a guitar like the one that guy at the station was playing.

During this time I put a pencil under the strings up by the nut on my old Gene Autry guitar and used a glass doorknob for a bar. I tuned it up to "E", and here I went, trying to play like "Little" Roy. After about a year of begging, my Dad finally went to Montgomery Ward and ordered me a little "Sherwood Deluxe" lap steel and amp. $85.00 for both of them.

There are a lot of details and things that went on during this time period, but it would take forever to write about them, so I'm going to save them for my book.

Harold Jenkins and I got our own little radio show on KFFA and called ourselves the "Phillips County Ramblers." We had a couple of our friends playing with us, Wesley Pickett and James Henry. We continued to play at school and church until we graduated from high school.

There was a band in Memphis, Tennessee called "Slim Rhodes And The Mother's Best Mountaineers." Their steel player "Rocky Caple" had gotten called into the Army in 1953. Harold and I always watched their TV show every week. After "Rocky" left for the Army, "Slim" started advertising on TV for a steel player. Harold started in on me trying to get me to go and audition for the job, and I kept saying, "I'm not good enough to play with those guys." After about 2 months he talked me into it. Harold called Slim and made an appointment to go up and do an audition. Harold carried me to Memphis, and I played a few instrumentals and Harold sang a couple of songs.

Slim Rhodes Show...1963

That was on a Monday night, and the following Thusday they called and told me to pack my suitcase and guitar and meet them at some little town in Mississippi. I forgot the name of the town. That was March the 12th in 1953.
I travelled all over the mid-south and played every schoolhouse and grocery store opening in the area. After a while I left Slim and started playing nightclubs. I got tired of that and called Slim and asked for my job back. He said O.K. so I went back to work for him. I would get tired of that and quit again. I went back and forth between the two for a long time.

John with Conway Twitty. Early 70's.

During this time, Harold had gone into the Army. While he was in the Army, Elvis made a big "Splash" and got real hot on the "rock & roll" scene. When Harold got out of the Army, he decided that he could sing "rock and roll", so that's what he did. While he was singing rock, he acquired the name "Conway Twitty."

In 1964 Conway decided that he wanted to go back to singing country, which he did, but he also wanted to keep the name "Conway Twitty."

After about 4 years he and his band were playing at his club at Moon Lake, Mississippi. He called me and asked if I would like to come down and sit in with them. Well, I did, and the following Thursday he called and asked if I would go out with them that weekend. Well, I did, and it lasted 20 years and 3 &1/2 months.

Vince shares his 3rd instrumentalist award with John on June 3rd, 1993 at the 27th TNN Music City News Awards at the Opry House.

I left Conway in 1988 and stayed off the road for about 1 year, and then I went to work for Loretta Lynn. While I was with Loretta, Vince Gill's song "When I Call Your Name" started getting hot. Vince decided to put a band together and offered me a job. I took it, and the rest is history as far as my career is concerned.

The 12 years with Vince were the "GREATEST."

Home | Ordering Info | Recordings | Merchandise | Links | Bio | Resume | Family | Setup