Harald " Hal" Rugg Legendary steel guitarist Harald "Hal" Rugg passed away in Tucson, AZ with loved ones at his side Tuesday morning, August 9, 2005, after an extended battle with lung cancer. He was born July 21, 1936 in New York City, New York. At an early age he moved to Tucson with his mother where he attended the Arizona Desert School. He began his music career in Tucson, AZ in the early 50's. He married his devoted wife, Vivian Deans in 1957. In 1959 he moved to Minneapolis, Minnesota and worked the Flame Club with Dave Dudley. He met Grand Ole Opry acts like Bobby Lord and Billy Grammer, who encouraged him to move to Nashville in 1961. He worked the road with many Opry acts such as Jean Shepard, Stonewall Jackson, Bill Carlisle and Leroy Van Dyke. Hal joined the George Jones Band in 1963, and did his first recording session. Soon after his first session he was too busy with recording to work the road. In 1963 he joined the staff band at the Grand Ole Opry where he performed until 1979. He also worked television with the Wilburn Brothers where he met producer Owen Bradley. As a result he recorded with the Wilburn Brothers and Loretta Lynn. A partial list of shows he played on are: Good Ole Nashville Music, Country Junction with Eddie Hill, The Jimmy Dean Show, Music Hall America and for seven years in the 1990's, The Statler Brothers Show. He was also the steel guitarist for several annual awards shows as a result of his relationship with Bill Walker who produced The Statler Brothers Show and several Capitol Records artists such as Donna Fargo and Roy Clark. Hal was inducted into The Steel Guitar Hall of Fame in 1989. Hal played on many million seller records for artists such as: Billy Walker, Jean Shepard, Ray Pillow, Nat Stuckey, Porter Wagoner, Sammi Smith, Ray Stevens, Ronnie Milsap, Ray Price, Barbara Mandrell, K.D. Lang. Eddie Rabbit, Johnny Russell, Joan Baez, Ricky Van Shelton, Sammy Kershaw and Steve Wariner. Hal's contributions to the music of these artists and his innovative playing style have firmly placed him at the top of recorded history for his instrument with only a select few. His influence is immeasurable among his playing peers. He was preceded in death by his parents and wife, Vicky. He is survived by four children, Theresa Louise Pierce, Thomas Joseph Rugg, Tammy Lee Klinefelter (husband Jack Klinefelter) and Tracy Lynn Rugg; six grandchildren and one great grandchild. Hal's later years were spent with his partner and companion Joan Van Dyke and his daughter Tammy and her family in the Catalina Foothills Mountains that he loved. Arrangements by ADAIR FUNERAL HOMES, Avalon Chapel, 8090 N. Northern Avenue.
Published by Arizona Daily Star on Aug. 14, 2005.