Monday, May 26, 2008

Hank Ray's "B" Bender Strat


Howard Yearwood with his string bender at world famous Trouts. Theresa Spanke looks on, getting ready to sing. (Above)

HOWARD YEARWOOD B bending my Strat.From what I read there are several benders : "One is the routed B Bender like the Nashville Tele has. Its mechanism is linked to the strap button near the neck. Pull down on the neck while wearing a strap and it stretches the string. Then you can also have the hipshot that is activated by the hip pushing a lever by the tail of the guitar. It mostly is a B string thing too. The third version is the palm bender that attaches to the bridge tailpeice and you use your palm to push it down thus stretching the string."


The Parsons/White B-Bender is still the world's best B-Bender. The first B-Bender, built by Gene Parsons for Clarence White, changed the history of country rock and the Telecaster guitar. I have a Hip Shot that mounts to the tail piece of my Mexican Fender Stratocaster. Howard Yearwood mounted mine on my Strat this winter. I had not seen Howard in 25 years or so and he was playing lead guitar for Homer Joy ( Homer Joy is no relation to Homer Simpson, but did write "Streets of Bakersfield for Buck Owens).
It was at a show set up by Rockwell at the WORLD FAMOUS "BLACK BOARD STAGE" at Trouts
in Oildale, just North of the Bridge from Bakersfield, California. It was a great show
and Howard lit up the stage with his maple Tele with bending that would have made even Clarence smile (he didn't smile much). Homer sang and played rhythm (Theresa Spanke- sang back up and lead on a couple outstanding tunes) Howard did the B bendin'. After the show howard and I talked for dozens of minutes about his life and mine and the love we both had for the music of Clarence White. He invited me over to his home in the San Fernando Valley and he hooked me up with his old "Hip Shot" B bender. I have not seen one on a Strat before, but he adapted it and it works great------BOOYYYING...TWANGGGG! The first I used it was on the recording sessions at Bakersfield Sound Studio on BLT's next record. I can't wait to hear it. I will be recording a demo with it soon with the "Fried Burritos" (that do songs about the
original band).
About Howard Yearwood
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * **** Instruments played: GUITAR (acoustic, electric, high strung, Gretsch, various Telecasters w/B benders, baritone, 12 stg. acoustic and electric, Coral electric sitar)***** BASS (electric and upright)***** DOBRO***** WEISSENBORN***** LAP STEEL***** MANDOLIN***** BANJO***** UKE***** KEYS***** ********************************************************************** People with whom I've performed and recorded: DIANE MARIE AULT, JEFFREY MICHAELS, HOMER JOY, ALBERT LEE, ROBERT HEFT, JOHN FOGERTY, FREDDY FENDER JR., VINCE GILL, BYRON BERLINE, MICKEY JONES(Bob Dylan, Kenny Rogers), ROSE MADDOX,THERESA SPANKE, CHARLIE RICH, KEVIN McKENDREE, LEROY MACK, LEE SKLAAR, JAYDEE MANESS, Al PERKINS, ED PONDER, GREG LEISZ, THE GOSHORN BROS., CANDY GIRARD, FRED NEWELL, TOMMY SPURLOCK, GARY MORSE, ERIC NILSEN, DOUG ALTMAN, RYS CLARK, BUDDY & JULIE MILLER, JIM LAUDERDALE, THE LOST CANYON RANGERS, MAYF NUTTER, JAMES INTVELD, SHARON CORT, MICHAEL CHAIN, TERRY HANSON, BILLY BLOCK, RONNIE COX, EDDIE DEAN, JOHN JORGENSEN, GEORGE HIGHFILL, GARY HILL, DAVE RAVEN, JEFF CONNORS, CHRISTINE CLARK, JACK DANIELS, PAUL MARSHALL, JIM CHRISTIE, JONATHAN YUDKIN, SPADY BRANNEN, BILLY PANDA, SAMANTHA ELIN, JO ANNE KURMAN, TRACY BARNES, LANIE MITCHELL, ERIC WHITE, JOHN AND NANCY STEVENSON, DEAN DOBBINS, JAN MICHAEL VINCENT, DAVID CARRIDINE, ERIN O'BRYAN, & (oh yeah) FRANK SINATRA ...................... opened for WILLIE NELSON, RICK NELSON, MEL TILLIS, BILL MONROE, LESTER FLATT, MARTY STUART, JIM AND JESSE, RALPH STANLEY, DEL McCOURY, DOC WATSON, THE COUNTRY GENTLEMEN ........and too many So. Cal and Nashville artists to mention ****************************************************************** HOLLYWOOD STUFF ************************************************************************** FILM: "Letters from a Killer) (Patrick Swayze), Man on the Moon (Jim Carrey), The Theory of Everything (haven't been paid yet), Revamped (vampires, bikers, bar fight, I wrote the song)* TELEVISION: Beauty and the Geek (banjo @ hodown), The Home Show, Days of Our Lives, Dr. Quinn Medicine Woman (recurring role), FamilyMatters, Beverly Hillbillies video (promo for the film with Jim Varney and Jerry Scoggins)**************************************************************** COMMERCIALS: Dr. Pepper w/Charlie Rich and David Naughton, Continental Airlines, VanDeCamps ******************************************************************** VIDEO GAMES: Redneck Rampage (soundtrack)

Howard and I have been Clarence White fans since the late 1960s. We spend hours in the late 1970s talking about Clarence and his music and trading rare tapes. Howard used to teach me Clarence style bluegrass flat picking but I am fairly inept and was only able to pick up a little here and there. My brother Ted and I were giant fans of all thing Clarence and we still collect his stuff today. I used to live in Palmdale not far away from where the accident was, it still makes me sad. I did get tojam with Eric White fairly often when I lived in the Lancaster/ Palmdale area, usually at "Del Sur Gardens" and "The Buffalo Club".


"An extraordinary country flatpicker, Clarence White inspired the emerging country-rock scene in the late 1960s. Influenced by Bill Monroe and Doc Watson, White began his career playing bluegrass and country with his brother Roland in their bands the Country Boys and the Kentucky Colonels, before moving into session work in the mid ‘60s.

In 1966 he signed with Bakersfield International Records, where he and friend Gene Parsons formed Nashville West, and along the way, invented the Parsons/White String Bender, an amazing device attached to a guitar strap that allows guitarists to get a pedal-steel string bend from a Fender Telecaster.
Also influenced by British rock bands of that time, White found his talents in demand with the hitmaking folk-rock band the Byrds at the same time their personnel lineup was falling apart. He participated in the Byrds’ direction change into country music during Gram Parsons’ brief tenure with the band, and played on the groundbreaking album Sweetheart of the Rodeo in 1968 before joining the band full-time along with Gene Parsons (no relation).

White made five albums with the Byrds, all heavily country-influenced, until the band broke up in 1973. Following the breakup, he hooked up with his brother again along with other country-rock artists of the time for touring and recording. Tragically, at the very peak of the country-rock scene he had helped create, Clarence White was killed by a drunk driver while loading his car after a gig in California in July, 1973. "

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