Reggie Young - Never Too Late - Forever Young Album Promo

April 17, 2020

Author's note: I visited with Reggie and Jenny Young in their home in Leiper's Fork for this interview/promo for his Forever Young album. This is the unedited interview. The edited version appeared in the August 2017 issue of Vintage Guitar Magazine.

Reggie Young - Never Too Late

At 80, Legendary Session Guitarist releases first solo album.

After 6-decades as a session musician, the legendary hit-making guitarist finally releases his first ever solo album, Forever Young. The album is not a barn burner, but instead a showcase of the beautiful and soulful Memphis-style guitar playing that Reggie Young helped write the book on years ago. From its opening track, we hear the chord melody, sliding sixths, sweet bends, and amazing guitar tone that have made him one of the most revered and imitated guitarists in Memphis, Nashville, and Muscle Shoals. And though he began working on the album while in his mid-70s, Forever Young is a showcase of his untarnished playing, tone and taste that serves to further cement him as one of the most important guitarists of all time.

VG: What took this so long?

RY: People have been asking me for years to make an album, but I was too busy. I would be in the studio, and I started making up pieces of songs to warm up with. Other players would ask me, ”What is that?” and I would respond that it was something I was messing around with. That really was where this all started. Then, I finally got all of the ideas together, and decided to put them down on tape.

VG: Having spent the last 4 decades recording in Nashville, why record in Muscle Shoals?

RY: I recorded down there quite a bit in the ‘60s at FAME, and other projects through the years. I also like a studio down there (LaLaLand) because they have a Neve recording console. I also like the laid back feel down there. Nobody is busy looking at their phone, wondering where they have to be next.

VG: Tell us about the players?

RY: Chad Cromwell (drums), David Hood (bass), and Clayton Ivey (keyboards)are all players that I have played with for years, and we know each other real well. When we recorded it, I was so busy producing the session, that I was not happy with my guitar parts, so I ended up replacing them here at my home with a recording engineer, and my Deluxe Reverb in the next room. Then I sent the tracks off to Jim Horn to add saxophone and flute.

VG: “Memphis Grease” features your bluesy playing in the A-section, and the Memphis-style double stops and sliding sixths that you helped popularize in the B-section. Did you intentionally quote part of your intro to “Son of a Preacher Man” at the end of the B-section?

RY: It wasn’t intentional, I guess that is just part of my playing

VG: Speaking of those flowery R&B double stops, where did that style originate?

RY: I am not sure. Not many people do that anymore. Even Steve Cropper doesn’t really do it anymore, and that’s why I wanted to do it. Years ago, I felt like I was copying Bobby Womack, but Don Was said I was doing that style before Womack was. Bobby was certainly a big influence on me though.

VG: Tell us a bit about the gear you used on the album?

RY: I have a 1969 bound Tele, and a 1957 Strat that are my main guitars. The Tele has benders that Joe Glaser installed that I don’t use, a Bill Lawrence Strat pickup in the neck, Duncan Stack in the middle, and a Ron Ellis Tele in the rear. The Strat has Bill Lawrence noiseless pickups. My amp was a 1965 Deluxe Reverb (with a Celestion V30) or a Little Walter amp with an Ernie Ball volume pedal, GE-7 eq to smooth things and add a bit of bass, and a Boss DD-6 for delay. I also used a TC Chorus and a Voodoo

Lab tremolo and Sparkle Drive.

VG: “Jennifer” features your influential volume pedal work. When did you start using a volume pedal?

RY: I used to play instrumentals with steel guitarist John Hughey in the 1960’s in Memphis, and I liked the way he could drag the notes out. None of the guitarist that I knew of in Memphis or Nashville were using one at that time, so I decided to. “Jennifer” is dedicated to my wife Jenny, who also played cello on the album.

VG: Favorite tracks you have played on?

RY: Little Milton “Whenever You Come Around” The Highwaymen “The Highwaymen” Dobie Gray “Drift Away” Haggard’s “That’s the Way Love Goes” & “Think I’ll Just Stay Here and Drink” and I especially liked my solo on “It Always Will Be” from Merle’s album, Chicago Wind.  It was overdubbed, with Merle, Lee Sklar, Mike Post, and Jimmy Bowen watching me. I told them, “I don’t have a clue what I am going to play,” and then I played the solo you hear on the album.