Gene Still was born in Belle Glade, Florida.
At six months old, his parents moved back to their home area in Gwinnett
County. He and Emily, his wife of 57 years, have lived mostly in the
Lawrenceville, GA area. His two sons are professional musicians, one
plays drums, the other plays bass and guitar, and is part of the recording
community. His daughter loves to sing, and had an opportunity at age
14 to be on stage with Loretta Lynn.
Gene's father passed away when Gene was young, but passed on his love
of music. His Dad played harp and all of his Dad's brothers played guitar.
Gene's first guitar was a Silvertone from Sears, when he was 12 years
old. His older brother Bob played rhythm guitar, so Gene put a DeArmond
pick up on his Silvertone so he could play lead, and they could play
out together. His Mom worked at Sears, and to add to their musical experience,
she bought the boys a mandolin. Gene said he can't remember what his
actual first paying job was, but he does know that he was paid $10!
At fifteen Gene discovered the steel guitar. Since then he has had 7
or 8, his favorite one being a ZB he had for 25 years. He sold it to
a guy in Conyers who removed the C6 neck, and put a pad on it. His first
record purchase was a Jerry Byrd album, which he purchased at Rich's
department store in Atlanta. His all time favorite song to play is “I
Love You Because”, and his favorite person to listen to playing
that song was John Hughey.
Over the years Gene has played with Chuck Atha and Stan Lee, the Elmer
Snodgrass Band, and the WPLO Swinging Gentlemen Band. In 1966, he was
one of the original organizers of the Woodchucks Band, headed up by
Chuck Atha. He played for several years with them. After that he played
with a few other bands, until he decided to retire from playing “out”,
only to play 8 hours a day at home with rhythm tracks.
When asked if he would have changed anything about his musical career,
he said he wished he had learned long ago to read music. He told of
a guy coming to him and asking him to teach Dobro at his music studio.
He went to his place on Briarcliff Road in Atlanta and the man gave
him a sheet of music. He was told to go home, practice the song, and
come back in a week. Gene went back and told him he had not done very
well struggling to read the music. “I can't even tell what I'm
playing because I'm so busy trying to read the notes!” He played
the song the best he could, shaking his head in frustration. The studio
owner looked at him and said, “You're playing “Mary Had
a Little Lamb!” “Oh,” said Gene, “I can do that
without the music!” and played it right through. Well, that was
better for Gene's comfort, but he did not get the teaching job!!
Instead, he got to have years of playing with good friends and good
musicians. Just once, he hit the road for a long weekend. Gene went
on a short tour with Mel Tillis, playing Anderson C State Fair on Friday,
Johnson City, TN on Saturday, and at a tobacco Barn in Gates City, Va
Written by Jeannie Smith
The first thing that comes to mind was Gene's dedication
to his music. He loved it and still does. If there was a steel lick
on the E-9th neck Gene could play it. With Gene teaching me the harmony,
we had all our instrumentals arranged mostly in two part harmony. I
always loved country music but at the time I had played mostly "rock
and roll" for a long time. Gene had the patience to help me with
the transition to country music. I love the man, he has meant a lot