Sonny Curtis spent his formative years hating the instrument that he'd make a career of playing. The longtime pedal steel guitar player for George Jones, Tammy Wynette and more died this month after a battle with Alzheimer's.

The Tennessean shared the news of Curtis' death at the age of 83, noting that he can be heard on many of Jones' 1960s albums. He'd remain with Wynette's band after the pair divorced in 1975. In the 1980s and beyond, Curtis played with Conway Twitty, Charley Pride, Minnie Pearl and more.

The biography at the Sonny Curtis website quotes him as saying he hated the sound of the steel guitar until just before he graduated from high school. An encounter with steel guitar player Bobby Irwin changed his mind, and after much practice on his own (with the strings on backwards because no one told him to do it correctly), he flourished.

Jones heard of him in 1969, thus beginning a long and successful career as a recording and touring musician. Curtis released one album of his own music, a 2002 collection called Reflections. He leaves behind his wife of 19 years, Barbara.

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