Neal Pappy McCormick

Born: Oct. 3, 1909, Wing, AL

A native of Wing, Al., Neal McCormick was an early pioneer of country music, innovator in the development of the steel guitar, and leader of the band which was to be the training ground for a young singer known as Hank Williams. The first musician to play an electrified instrument on WSM radio, McCormick blew the station off the air with the volume he was able to generate with his amplified instrument. The innovative McCormick developed a revolving steel guitar which featured four necks which would be tuned to different keys. This enable him to handle the demands of network radio programs. A Creek Indian, McCormick early band was called the Hawaiian Troubadours, not only because of his steel guitar stylings, but also because some Southern states had laws preventing Indians from working. It was while performing in Penasacola, Fl., that Hank Williams ask to join the band. He worked with McCormick for a few years, but remained friends for the rest of his life, turning to "Pappy" numerous times with his troubles. McCormick later moved to Nashville where he own several recording studios and played recording session with many of the early greats of country music.

Source: Alabama Music Hall of Fame

The man behind the scenes: Neal (Pappy) McCorm[i]ck & Hank Williams

About the author

Juanealya McCormick Sutton is the only daughter and the eldest child of Neal McCormick. She and her husband, Parmer Lee Sutton, live in DeFuniak Springs, Florida. She has responded to the great public demand for the true story of her father's work and the memories they could recall together of the famous people that were part of their lives.

She has written this book with a deep love and respect for all the people involved. She dedicates this book to her father, Neal McCormick, because throughout her lifetime she watched him actually being "The Man Behind The Scenes".

She thanks her family of three children and six grandchildren for their patience and support while she wrote this book. Most of all, she thanks her husband who has watched her laugh and cry as she remembered the times recorded here. Without his patience, support and love, this undertaking would not have been possible.

Juanealya sincerely hopes the reader will enjoy her book.


Book: The man behind the scenes: Neal (Pappy) McCorm[i]ck & Hank Williams: Juanealya McCormick Sutton: Books


Creek musician "Pappy" Neal McCormick named his first band the "Hawaiian Troubadours" to evade segregation in the 1930s South. McCormick was a pioneering county musician who collaborated with and influenced such artists as Elvis Presley, Gene Autrey, and Hank Williams Sr., and was an early innovator of the electric guitar.

This video was produced by the University of Alabama Center for Public Television.

Video: "Pappy" Neal McCormick

Video: YouTube - Leader Of The Band - A Tribute To Neal McCormick

More info: The Walton Sun

The Steel Guitar Forum :: View topic - Who is " "PAPPY" NEAL McCORMICK"


In another room in the museum is a three-sided steel guitar. It belonged to Pappy Neal McCormick, who was a full blooded Indian chief, who lived in Defuniak Springs, Florida. He was very talented and had a radio program that broadcast from the Carlos Hotel in Pensacola. Hank met Pappy while he was living where the museum is now. Hank would go down and make music with Pappy Neal (there is a CD that contains Hank plugging Pappy Neal for Sheriff). The three-sided steel guitar was set up to play Texas swing, Hawaiian and country music. He played a lot of Hawaiian music because in the early days if you were an Indian you did not have the freedom to go from state to state. So Pappy Neal passed himself off as a Hawaiian.

Mary Wallace Hank Williams Historian ...The Tour Continues  by Jerry W. Henry

Source: Planet Weekly - Mary Wallace Hank Williams Historian ...The Tour Continues


Obituary: Miami Herald, The (FL) - March 3, 1998


''Pappy'' Neal McCormick, who played steel guitar for some of the top names in country music and helped give Hank Williams Sr. his start in the business, has died of complications from the flu. He was 88.

McCormick died Friday at Sacred Heart Hospital in Pensacola. Funeral services were Monday in DeFuniak Springs where he lived.

A 1994 Florida Folk Heritage Award winner, McCormick was one of the first musicians to use a steel guitar and he invented a four-neck version he called the ''Contraption.''

The original is in the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum in Nashville, but he built another that he continued to play late in life.

Before collapsing from the flu, he continued to play with his brother, Earl ''Pop'' McCormick, 91, and the Barn Dance Troubadours at a community center in Mossy Head, a hamlet near here in the Florida Panhandle.

''Daddy loved to perform for the public,'' daughter Juanealya Sutton said. ''He loved country music. He thought country music today was getting out of the old way and he resented that a bit.''

The Wing, Ala., native played steel guitar for Ray Price, Tex Ritter, Gene Autry, Kitty Wells, Ernest Tubb and Johnny Cash.

But one performer who stood out among the rest was the late Hank Williams Sr., who was 16 when he went to Pensacola looking for a job with McCormick, who had a radio show there.

''His rhythm weren't no good,'' McCormick said in a 1990 interview. But he hired the youngster because, he said, ''I thought he was a good singer.''

Though Williams is credited with popularizing what is known as the Nashville sound, McCormick said he and French Harvey, a musician from Panama City, came up with the format in DeFuniak Springs.

''He jumped on my 'Nashville sound' as he called it,'' McCormick said. ''Then the rest of 'em got to using it and called it Nashville sound, but it's not. It's the 'DeFuniak sound.' ''

When Williams struck out on his own, McCormick continued to serve as a father figure for the troubled star. Williams' mother sometimes called McCormick and asked for his help. He said he would take Williams for a ride and drive him to a dry county where he couldn't get a drink.

McCormick was a heritage chief with Muscogee Creek Indian Tribe East of the Mississippi, but he hid his heritage early in his career, calling his band the Hawaiian Troubadours because of discrimination against Indians.

In addition to his daughter and brother, survivors include his wife, Sissy, and three sons, Nealie M. McCormick Jr. of Pelham. Ga.; Tommy A. McCormick of Panama City; and John David McCormick of Brandon.

Source: Re: Neal 'Papa' McCormick (Miami Herald) - Holmes - Family History & Genealogy Message Board -


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