Donald's Encyclopedia of Popular Music
(b Ralph Eugene Mooney, 16 September 1928, Duncan OK; d 20 March 2011, Kennedale TX) Steel guitarist, whose style and high G-sharp tuning could be heard clearly in honky-tonk and outlaw country music, as it adopted the louder beat and the solid-body electric guitar of rock music.
On staff at Capitol in Hollywood beginning the 1950s, Mooney played on hit singles by Wanda Jackson and Wynn Stewart. He contributed to several of Buck Owens’s early hits, including 'Above and Beyond and 'Under Your Spell Again', helping to invent the Bakersfield sound in country music from California in the late 1950s, influencing not only country singers like Dwight Yoakam and Jim Lauderdale but rock bands of the late 1960s and '70s. His sound on Stewart’s 1962 single 'Another Day, Another Dollar' (1962) was heard in a Volkswagen TV commercial in 2011. He didn’t many songs, but co-wrote 'Crazy Arms' with Chuck Seals which became a country standard when Ray Price’s classic recording dominated the country chart in 1956.
Mooney joined Waylon Jennings’s band in 1970 and stayed for two decades. His crisp counterpoint was integral, for example, on the outlaw country anthem 'Mammas Don't Let Your Babies Grow Up To Be Cowboys', a duet with Willie Nelson that was no. 1 on the country chart for four weeks in 1978. He was also heard on 'I’m Not Lisa', by Jennings's wife, Jesse Colter, which crossed over to the pop Top 10 in 1975. He made several albums of his own, including Corn Pickin’ and Slick Slidin’, a set of instrumental duets with the guitarist James Burton, in 1968.