published Thursday, November 8th, 2012

City Beat: 'Pig' Robbins honored with CMA induction

Hargus "Pig" Robbins was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame on Oct. 21, along with Connie Smith and Garth Brooks. According to a release from the Country Music Association, it was an evening of high praise, laughter and music.

Robbins' name may not be as immediately recognizable to country music fans as is Brooks or Smith, but it is to the musicians. As a session keyboard and piano player, the Spring City, Tenn., native has played on more hits than we could list here.

His first hit came in 1957, when he played on George Jones' "White Lightning." Over his career, he did session work for Jones, Bob Dylan, Ronnie Milsap, Ween, Alan Jackson, Merle Haggard, Loretta Lynn and Conway Twitty.

During the CMA ceremonies, a host of artists paid tribute to Robbins by performing songs, such as "Behind Closed Doors" "White Lightning" and "Don't It Make My Brown Eyes Blue," that he played on originally.

Gene Watson performed "Fourteen Carat Mind" and then told the audience that Robbins played on every Top 3 single he'd ever released.

Charlie McCoy perhaps best summed up Robbins' work and value to the industry by saying, "There are many, many songwriters in this town who made a whole lot more royalties because Pig played on their songs," he said.

"There are hundreds of artists who had better careers because Pig played on their records. There are millions of fans who had their hearts touched and their ears blessed because Pig played on their records."

Robbins, who was blinded as a child by an accident involving a knife, said during his acceptance speech, "It's really an honor to come into the Hall of Fame in the Musician category with Charlie, Harold (Bradley) and Floyd (Cramer). Of course, I stole enough off of Floyd that I ought to be ashamed of myself -- but I'm not."

Robbins learned to play the piano at the Tennessee School for the Blind in Nashville. It was there he got his nickname.

"I had a supervisor who called me that because I used to sneak in through a fire escape and play when I wasn't supposed to, and I'd get dirty as a pig," Robbins said in an earlier interview.

Contact Barry Courter at bcourter@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6354.

about Barry Courter...

Barry Courter is staff reporter and columnist for the Times Free Press. He started his journalism career at the Chattanooga News-Free Press in 1987. He covers primarily entertainment and events for ChattanoogaNow, as well as feature stories for the Life section. Born in Lafayette, Ind., Barry has lived in Chattanooga since 1968. He graduated from Notre Dame High School and the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga with a degree in broadcast journalism. He previously was ...

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