Gordon Huntley 1930-1985
The UK Steel Player’s Hero of the Instrument and the most famous exponent of the ZB Custom Guitar this side of the Atlantic.
As stated on the first page of this site I don’t want to make things heavy or boring for anyone paying a visit here so in profiling Gordon I would like to give you-
The Governor as he was affectionately known.
Pictures kindly supplied by his friends over the years
Quotations by fellow players
Famous Videos at Maidstone
The Governor. Whose early playing was with the Hawaiian Serenaders playing a triple neck Fender lap steel in 1959 progressed on to ‘pedal’ steel by adding a pedal to his guitar made out of a tractor accelerator pedal and bicycle brake cable. He then took over from Jeff Newman in his band made up of U.S. Servicemen when Jeff returned to the states in 1963 around this time Gordon teamed up with Nigel Dennis (a Newbury solicitor) to manufacture Denley steel guitars (DENnis-huntLEY) however they were not without problems when Gordon lent on it at a gig a leg sheared off! By 1970 Gordon was with Mathews Southern Comfort and was able to buy his first ZB Custom from our friend Eric Snowball of ‘The Steel Mill’ in Maidstone, Kent. with the royalties from the single ‘Woodstock’ (which reached N0 1 in the UK charts that year) From then his steel sound could be heard on recordings by names such as Iain Mathews, Elton John, Southern Comfort, Rod Stewart, Clodagh Rogers, Barbara Dickson, and even on the sound track of Cliff Richard’s Take Me High ….Sadly Gordon passed away in 1985 but his style and charisma live on in the hearts of a very long list here in the UK.
Gordon playing the Blue ZB at Eric's 'The Steel Mill' in the old Broadway shop 70/71
The Man wearing his well known broad smile pictured here with the 'Alabama Hayriders'
In Salubrious company!! ... Gordon, Eric Snowball, Pete Wiltshire and Tom Brumley pictured here for the country music magazine
That Denley guitar mentioned above ...In 1966 an agreement was made between Nigel Dennis and Gordon Huntley with Jim Burns of the Burns Guitar Company to market the Denley as an Ormston and 'Here We Have That Guitar!!
Those Wonderful early ZB days and the '75 Diary.. check out those names ..Frank was the provider of this particular treasured diary, mine was a purple one I recall !!
Another Promo for Eric and the ZB from the same era when the Steel Mill became E.S. Electronics
Last for now, this shot I know to be a favourite of John Davis another close friend on Gordons. John's quote, 'This is how I will remember Gordon!' ...NB: The guy in the hat is not John Davis (if anybody knows him let me know)
"I was also playing the American Bases in the '60's (with the Saddletramps and the Night Life) and remember hearing Gordon playing with the Westernaires. He was the first Pedal Steel player (other than myself) I had seen in the flesh, and I was totally blown away by his playing. For us players who came along in the '60's (me, Gerry, Pete, Paul etc) he was the father of British Pedal Steel." --B.J.Cole.
“I was with Gordon at Top of the Pops when he backed Barbara Dickson & played those harmonics, and also when he backed Ray Stevens "Misty"; I was fortunate enough to be with him on so many sessions. He once told me that what turned him on to country was listening to Hank Thompson and his band, I don’t know who played that C6th stuff with Hank way back then, but I sure do thank him! I remember Gordon was particularly proud of his European tour with Andy Williams, I think it was one of the last big events in his life. I could go on for hours about Gordon, you couldn’t tell him a joke- he had already heard it!! If I got him to play my steel for just 5 minutes, when I got back on it, it was so in tune, it would damn near play itself! Perfect pitch, and those hands, only another steel player could understand what we have lost”. - John Davis.
“One day in around 1980, I learned more from Gordon down on a farmhouse where he was living, than I would have done with a barrow load of tutor books!!!! Of course I got my first steels from Eric Snowball; even before Gordon worked there.....In the good ole days when Eileen helped Eric run the shop.”- Mickey Byrne.
I would like to acknowledge Matt Dawson from which some this brief background overview was complied. Thank you for your efforts on behalf of Gordon, Matt.
Famous Video Footage
On stage with Fairport at Maidstone! 'pics here from albums of the time'
Gordon's Hall of Fame Certificate
The Steel Guitar Community and Gordon's family were thrilled recently to see him inducted into the European Steel Guitar Hall of Fame ...