Felton Pruett dies; played steel guitar with Hank Williams

SHREVEPORT, La. — A musician who played steel guitar with country legend Hank Williams on the Louisiana Hayride radio show, and broke his nose wrestling with Williams, has died. Felton Pruett was 89 years old.

He died Wednesday. He had played steel guitar for more than 70 years.

His funeral was scheduled Saturday morning in Shreveport, with a graveside service and burial at Bayou Scie Cemetery about 70 miles away in Zwolle, according to the Rose-Neath Funeral Home .

When Williams moved to Nashville, he asked Pruett to move there, too — but Pruett was settled in Shreveport with a family, and didn't want to move so far, his wife, Rita Pruett, told The Times of Shreveport.

"We stayed here, and he worked and picked, and he told me later, 'I'm glad we didn't go to Nashville,'" she recalled. "He said, 'I can still pick any time I want and work at the railroad.' He was happy like that."

Pruett worked 40 years for the Union Pacific Railroad. He also played for KWKH-AM's Louisiana Hayride throughout its entire run, from 1948 to 1960, Rita Pruett said.

"Felton played the first Hayride and the last one," she said.

He backed up musicians including Buck Owens, Slim Whitman, Faron Young, Merle Kilgore and Minnie Pearl, the newspaper reported.

Felton, originally of Many, and Rita, of Pleasant Hill, were married in 1949.

"We got married in Pleasant Hill, and he had a show to play at Many Auditorium that night with Hank Williams," Rita Pruett said.

Williams left another sort of mark on Pruett — he told the newspaper in 1991 that he had a bump on his nose because Williams accidentally broke it while they were wrestling around in a car.

Williams died in 1953, and Pruett broke a lifelong distrust of airplanes to attend his funeral.

"He hated to fly, and the only time in his life he ever flew was for Hank Williams' funeral," said daughter-in-law Jessica Pruett. Her husband, Reagan Pruett, is the youngest of Pruett's four sons and the only one still alive.

Pruett is also survived by another daughter-in-law, three grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.

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