Chip Young, a session guitarist, producer, and engineer famous for his thumb-style playing, died December 20 in a Nashville hospital. He was 76 and had undergone triple-bypass surgery several weeks prior.
Young, whose real name was Jerry Stembridge, started playing guitar as a prodigy of Jerry Reed and Chet Atkins. He began to amass recording credits in 1956, and in ’64 moved to Nashville at the encouragement of Reed. Through the decades, he played on recordings by Elvis Presley, Willie Nelson, Waylon Jennings, Jerry Lee Lewis, Tony Joe White, Charlie Louvin, Leon Russell, Carl Perkins, Kris Kristofferson, Earl Scruggs, George Jones, Guy Clark, Ronnie Milsap, The Oak Ridge Boys, Tanya Tucker, J.J. Cale, Eddy Arnold, and others, including on Dolly Parton’s “Jolene” and Charley Pride’s “Kiss an Angel Good Morning,” Vern Gosdin’s 1983 classic “Way Down Deep,” and Presley’s “Guitar Man.”
In the mid ’70s, he opened his own studio, Young ’Un Sound, and subsequently engineered and/or produced recordings by Delbert McClinton, Billy Swan, Jimmy Buffett, Joe Ely, Tom T. Hall, Reba McEntire, the Statler Brothers, and more.
In 2000, he recorded an album titled Having Thumb Fun With My Friends, which featured friends including Reed, Atkins, Scotty Moore, and others.
He remained active into the 21st century, working with Todd Snider, Candi Staton, and My Morning Jacket.
Young is survived by his wife, Diane, a daughter, two grandchildren, one sister, two brothers, and several nieces and nephews.