Friday, February 8, 2008

Willie Ackerman

William Paul Ackerman, or "Willie" as his friends know him, was born in Nashville, Tennessee on May 1, 1939 and became one of Nashville's A-Team Drummers during the '60s, '70s and '80s. He played on thousands of recordings as well as live performances, television shows, commercial jingles and radio broadcasts. He was also the staff drummer for the Grand Ole Opry, the hit television show Hee Haw, and Music Row's world famous RCA Studios.

This blog was created by his son, Trey Ackerman, in an effort to document his work and bear personal witness to life on Nashville's famed Music Row during what was arguably Country Music's golden era.

There are a lot of pictures to show and stories to tell, problem being, where to start... I guess I'll tell you what I witnessed growing up around the stages and studios of Nashville; then add comments, stories and pictures from some of Dad's friends, family and fellow musicians. If you're a country music fan, you're in for a treat!!! :)

- Trey

PS: Here's a young, nice looking Willie Ackerman playing drums behind Patsy Cline (performing "Crazy".)

Video Clips

Here are some video clips I've found online that show Willie playing drums (links should open in a new window.)

Patsy Cline -
Roy Clark -
Ray Charles -
Jim Reeves -
Skeeter Davis -
Skeeter Davis -

Some pics on other websites:
Hee Haw with Stringbean at
Jim Reeves session at THE legendary A-Team bass player Bob Moore's website

If you know of other clips or pics, please post the link(s) in a comment and I'll add them.

Enjoy! :)

Recording Credits

Here is a short list of recordings Willie Ackerman has played drums on. Links are provided where applicable and will open a new window. This list will grow as I do more research. So, check back often! :)
- Trey

Louis Armstrong
Jerry Reed
Tom T Hall
Flatt & Scruggs
Willie Nelson
Waylon Jennings
The Monkees
Anita Carter
Charley Pride
Ernest Tubb
Jimmy Martin
Earl Scruggs
Red Sovine
Jim Reeves
Darrell Mccall
Don Gibson
Hank Snow
Hal Willis
Freddie Hart
Slim Whitman
Joe Maphis
J.D. Crowe
Charlie Walker
Steve Young

Bobby Bare
Marty Robbins
Stonewall Jackson
George Morgan
Porter Wagoner
Patsy Cline
Loretta Lynn
Ray Price
Leroy Van Dyke
The Osborne Brothers
Buffy Sainte-Marie
Ben Colder
Wanda Jackson
Bobby Bridger
George Hamilton V
Roger Miller
Johnny Paycheck
Misc Christmas albums and singles
Little Jimmy Dickens
Billy Crash Craddock
Ray Price
And many, many more...

Everyone has a Faron Young story!

There is a saying in Nashville, "Everyone has a Faron Young story!" Well here's mine.

Let me start by saying dad (Willie) and Faron Young were good friends. Dad played drums on some of Faron's hits (still need to research which ones though). The first time I met Faron was when I was 13 or 14 years old. Dad and I were walking downtown one afternoon when all of a sudden he yelled out, "HEY, FARON!!" When Faron saw us he came running across 5 lanes of lower Broadway in a misty rain. I mean this guy was a BIG star and it was like he and dad were old high school buddies or something. Dad introduced me and Faron tussled my hair (I could tell he'd had a couple). Then they started talking about getting together later, which meant dad would be taking me home soon. Good! I was 14-ish. My idea of a good time was throwing firecrackers at those little green army men under the giant mimosa tree in the back yard. Not walking down lower Broadway meeting people. Famous, or not!

So... Fast-forward to my 18th birthday party and the Faron Young story.

Dad was living at the 2131 Apartments with his second wife (first initial "B"), who was 25 at the time. They decided to have my birthday get-together at the main clubhouse, and dad invited some of his and B's friends. One of the guests was the Chief of Police from Berry Hill (a small community inside Nashville). The Police Chief also brought his parents to introduce them to dad (the famous Hee Haw drummer, Grand Ole Opry staff drummer, played with everybody, etc, etc).

Before the party started, dad and I walked back to the apartment to get something and, as we were walking back to the clubhouse, dad yelled out (you guessed it), "HEY, FARON!!" who just happened to be visiting a "friend" in a nearby apartment. Faron came running across 5 parking spaces toward us. Dad introduced me and Faron tussled my hair (again). Then dad said, "Hey, it's my son's 18th birthday today and we're having a get-together in the clubhouse here. Why don't you come over?" Well, about 30 minutes later Faron came over with his "friend". Dad and stepmother B. said, "The bar is over there," and Faron hit the scotch! HARD!!!

I should also tell you that my stepmother B. has already had a few drinks by this time, and is sitting on the floor next to the fireplace telling me how nice I am and how my sisters don't like her, but that I am soooo nice, and she doesn't know why my sisters don't like her, and so on, and so on, ad nauseam.

Thirty minutes into the party I've been shooting pool by myself, listening to my stepmother repeat herself about how nice I am, when the Berry Hill Police Chief and his parents show up from a church meeting. I, just having lost to myself at pool by scratching on the eight-ball, am watching the following scene unfold from about 10 feet away.

Dad greets the Police Chief, meets his parents then says, "Hey, I want to introduce you to a friend of mine. Faron, come here and meet these folks." Now, by this time Faron has downed almost 1/2 of the bottle of scotch, his "friend" has left the party and he's slurring his words.

Folks, picture this scene if you can. My dad, Faron, the Police Chief and the Chief's mother and father are standing in a circle, and Faron never looks up. He is just staring at the mom's chest the whole time. My dad says, "Everybody. I want to introduce you to a good friend of mine, Faron Young (they're all very impressed - at first). Faron, this is (so-and-so) the Chief of Police and his father (so-and-so) and his mother (so-and-so)." Then Faron, never looking up from the mom's chest, says with a slur, (...wait for it, wait for it...)
"My God, you got some big titties!"

There is a moment of stunned silence from the circle. Then the Police Chief's parents let out a collective gasp, the Police Chief looks at my dad, and dad grabs Faron by the arm and says, "Let's sing Happy Birthday to Trey!"

Now, all eyes turn to me as...

...Faron stumbles over and grabs me around the neck with his right arm, slurs out the Happy Birthday song in my left ear, gives me a SLOPPY WET KISS on the cheek, leans over by the fireplace and throws up on my stepmother! (I didn't even have to make my wish :)

And that, folks, is my Faron Young story!