Hargus “Pig” Robbins “A-Team” Pianist Passed Away At 84
via JamesTJordan1 / Youtube
Hargus “Pig” Robbins, the acclaimed pianist known as a member of Nashville’s piano player for the city’s original “A Team” of session musicians, has died at the age of 84.
No cause of death was immediately given, but Robbins’ child shared the news on Facebook over the weekend, writing that the musician had experienced numerous health troubles in recent months.
Born in Spring City, Tennessee in 1938, Robbins was 3 years old when he lost his sight due to a knife accident. He attended the Tennessee School for the Blind, and at about age 7, he began taking piano lessons. Despite his classical studies, Robbins found himself drawn to jazz and pop artists while bumping into Nashville’s booming country music industry.
Robbins got his nickname “Pig” from constantly playing around the fire escapes at the school.
“When I’d come out and be real dirty from all that soot, the supervisor would know exactly where I’d been, and she said ‘You’re as dirty as a little pig.’”
He worked the club circuit in Nashville as a skilled young performer, attracting attention to his distinct, lively style. The first hit to feature Robbins’ playing was the 1959 tune “White Lightning,” released by country music artist George Jones.
Throughout his life, Robbins appeared on thousands of recordings working with such acclaimed artists such as Patsy Cline, Loretta Lynn, Conway Twitty, Kenny Rogers, Tammy Wynette, Dolly Parton, Charley Pride, Willie Nelson, Joan Baez, J.J. Cale, and Gordon Lightfoot.
Arguably the most famous recording to feature Robbins’ work was Bob Dylan’s famed 1966 album Blonde on Blonde. His distinctive style was noticeable on many of the tracks, including saloon-style sway of “Rainy Day Women #12 & 35.”
Robbins spent the rest of his life as a session player in high demand, performing on albums by Alan Jackson, Randy Travis, Miranda Lambert, and Sturgill Simpson. His impressive resume featured work alongside many other famed acts, including Neil Young, Shania Twain, John Anderson, Merle Haggard, Waylon Jennings and Ween.
In addition to his many collaborative projects, Robbins also released solo material, including nine albums in the 1960s and 1970s. He won a Grammy for Best Country Instrumental Performance in 1978 and was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame in 2012.