Birth name: Gerald Lester Byrd
Born: March 9, 1920
Lima, Ohio, United States
Died: April 11, 2005 (aged 85)
Honolulu, Hawaii, United States
Genres: Country, honky tonk, Hawaiian music
Instruments: Lap steel guitar
Years active: 1935–2005
Gerald Lester "Jerry" Byrd (March 9, 1920 – April 11, 2005), was an American musician who played the lap steel guitar in country and Hawaiian music, as well as a singer-songwriter and the head of a music publishing firm, he appeared on numerous radio programs.
Byrd was born in Lima, Ohio, one of five siblings, his interest in the instrument began after a "tent show" when he was 12 and by 15 he was playing in bars. Although his initial interest was Hawaiian music much of his work was country. In 1944/1945 he joined the Grand Ole Opry. He was important to the early career of Dolly Parton being one of the first to sign her. He also was an educator of the steel guitar giving lessons to Jimmie Vaughan and Jerry Garcia among others. The list of artists that Byrd played or recorded with included Hank Williams, Ernest Tubb, Patsy Cline and Red Foley and countless others. With Hank Williams he played songs like I'm So Lonesome I Could Cry, Lovesick Blues and Mansion on the Hill. In the early 1970s he moved to Hawaii and worked on reviving Hawaiian steel guitar music, taking a great delight in giving lap steel lessons to the young musicians who showed interest in ensuring that the lap steel remained an important instrument in Hawaiian music. While living in Hawaii, Byrd had a regular weekly gig with his trio at the Royal Hawiian Hotel that lasted until his death. Though Byrd often joked about pedal steel guitar players, he had nothing but the highest of praise for Buddy Emmons, saying he had taken the steel guitar to new places with his playing.