Oral History Spotlight: Eddie Bayers

Elizabeth Dale

NAMM Oral History alumni and session drummer, Eddie Bayers, is now part of the Country Music Hall of Fame. In an announcement last month, the prolific musician joined the roster of notable names in the “Recording and/or Touring Musician” category.

Bayers originally hails from Maryland, but as the son of a Navy fighter pilot, he moved around frequently, spending time in Nashville, North Africa, Oakland, and Philadelphia. Music became a mainstay for the young Bayers, who trained early on in his life as a classical pianist. It wasn’t until his time in a California college that his interests changed, and Bayers drifted from classical piano and began exploring a more creative side to his playing.

During this time, the Oakland music scene was home to many rising stars, including Jerry Garcia and John and Tom Fogerty (Creedence Clearwater Revival), all of which Beyers jammed alongside. It was through his connection with Tom Fogerty that Bayers became introduced to studio work. According to Bayers, “Capabilities for being a session player were diminishing on the west coast because of the self-contained bands, the overdubs – things like that. You could still do well in the movie soundtrack end, but for the commercial side of music, it looked like Nashville was the place where it was going to happen.”

With the promise of more professional opportunities, Bayers moved to Nashville in 1973 and became the house keyboardist for the Carousel Club. It was at the club where Bayers met session drummer Larrie Londin. Londin, dubbed “the greatest drummer in the world” by legend Chet Atkins, served as the inspiration for Bayers to make the switch from piano to drums. Bayers became the staff drummer at Audio Media Studios and has since worked with big acts like Garth Brooks, Kenny Chesney, Peter Frampton, Vince Gill, Alan Jackson, Bob Seger, George Strait, and Trisha Yearwood.

Eddie Bayers

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Throughout his career, the industry has recognized Bayers' talent and contributions. He was inducted into the Musicians Hall of Fame in 2019, earned the Academy of Country Music “Drummer of the Year” award 14 times, won the Nashville Music Awards’ “Drummer of the Year” three times, and was named one of the ten greatest session drummers of all time by Drum! magazine. Other honorable mentions include ten nominations for CMA’s “Musician of the Year” award and the latest accolade, the 2021 induction into the Country Music Hall of Fame.

Outside of his performance work, Bayers has furthered elevated the musical community by serving on the Board of Governors for the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences (NARAS) from 1992 to 1994 and from 1997-2001. He has also been a part of the NARAS Educational Committee, the board for MusiCares, is a graduate of Leadership Music, and is a part-owner of the Money Pit recording studio.

To learn more about Bayers induction into the Country Music Hall of Fame, please visit https://countrymusichalloffame.org/hall-of-fame/hall-of-fame-rotunda/induction-ceremony-medallion/.