Norman Hamlet


Oral History Information

Norman Hamlet was just a kid when he heard this strange but wonderful sound during a Grand Ole Opry radio program. He was told the sound came from a Hawaiian Guitar, which was a term used before the more popular name of Steel Guitar was adopted. His father purchased one for him at a music store in Visalia, California. Norman soon found some school friends to play with and they formed a band. A few years later Norman formed a band in Grand Junction, which played seven nights a week and he had a television program five days a week during the day. When he returned to California he had his friend Paul Bigsby make him a pedal steel guitar, which is the instrument he was playing when he met Merle Haggard. The two hit it off right away and Norman worked for Merle for 49 years until Merle’s passing in 2016. Among Norman’s favorite musical experiences was teaching a nine-year-old how to play the steel guitar, her name was Barbara Mandrell!