Billy Sanford

Oral History Information

Interview Date
Job Title
Studio Musician

Billy Sanford purchased his first guitar, a Stella, at a pawn shop in his hometown of Shreveport, Louisiana, when he was 13 years old. Still a teenager, Billy became a member of the staff band for the popular radio program The Louisiana Hayride from 1958 to 1959. A few years later he moved to Nashville and began his long career as a studio guitarist. Billy also toured with Roy Orbison and recorded on several of his biggest hits including “(Oh) Pretty Women” and “It’s Over.” Billy played on dozens of other hit songs including the Oak Ridge Boys’ “Elvira,” Charlie Rich’s “Behind Closed Doors,” Kenny Rogers’ “The Gambler,” Keith Whitley’s “I’m No Stranger to the Rain,” George Jone’s “He Stopped Loving Her Today” and his wah-wah pedal can be heard on Johnny Paycheck’s “Someone to Give My Love to.” In addition, Billy recorded with Vern Gosdin, Willie Nelson, Elvis Presley, Tammy Wynette, Trisha Yearwood and can even be heard playing on Marcus King’s version of the NASCAR theme song.