His self-taught, one-of-a-kind style made him the most sought after session pianist in Nashville.
Floyd Cramer originated the “slip note” style, his signature slurred sound that lent the lonesome sound to Elvis Presley’s “Heartbreak Hotel.”
Paul Shaffer Inducts Floyd CramerPaul Shaffer Inducts Floyd Cramer at the 2003 Rock & Roll Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony
Paul Shaffer Inducts Floyd Cramer00:01:52
Floyd Cramer's Wife's Acceptance Speech00:01:04
Hall of Fame Essay
When Floyd Cramer picked up his phone in Nashville in the spring of 1984, there was an unmistakable voice on the other end of the line. It was Michael Jackson, inviting the famed pianist to perform at an event honoring matriarch Katherine Jackson. “I’ve been listening to ‘Last Date’ all my life,” said Michael, referring to Cramer’s 1960 signature instrumental. The keyboardist was Katherine’s favorite recording artist, and that’s how he wound up tickling the ivories behind Michael on “For the Good Times,” backing Jermaine on “Moon River” and entertaining the entire Jackson clan in Hollywood that spring.
“I was just overwhelmed, and very surprised,” Cramer commented. He shouldn’t have been. As a key member of Nashville’s “A Team” of studio musicians, Floyd Cramer was one of the most influential piano players in history, regardless of genre.
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