Music

Glenn Snoddy, Nashville Recording Pioneer and Inventor of the Fuzz Pedal, Dies at 96

Elmer Williams/Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum

At the age of 96, Glenn Snoddy passed away in his home in Murfreesboro, Tenn. Snoddy had a profound impact on Nashville music and country and rock in general due to his invention of the Maestro Fuzz-Tone.

In 1960, Snoddy was working at Owen Bradley's Quonset Hut Studios as a sound engineer when studio guitarist Grady Martin's instrument produced a fuzzy sound while recording the Marty Robbins track "Don't Worry." The musicians in the studio were excited by the unique sound even though it was a technical error, and they sent the recording on the music executives. Since they too loved the distortion, they wanted to know how to recreate it. (Hear the sound around 1:25 in the video below.)

Since Snoddy worked as a radio repairman in the South Pacific during WWII, he acquired the experience to build electronics, and he was able to make the Fuzz-Tone pedal for Gibson that produced the blurry sound on cue. While the use of the pedal didn't immediately catch on when it was released in 1962, three years later, The Rolling Stones' Keith Richards used one to record the iconic "(I Can't Get No) Satisfaction" and a major ripple was set off in rock n roll forever.

During his time at Quonset Hut Studios Snoddy hired a then-unknown aspiring songwriter named Kris Kristofferson to be the studio's janitor.

In addition to creating the first distortion pedal, Snoddy also ran sound for WSM and the Grand Ole Opry and was part of many historical recordings. He was a part of Johnny Cash's recording of "Ring of Fire" and Hank Williams' last ever recording session. Moreover, Snoddy opened up Woodland Sound Studios in East Nashville in 1966 where The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band famously recorded Will the Circle Be Unbroken.

Snoddy only received royalties on the Fuzz-Tone for seven years, but his invention and his personal impact on music is immeasurable. He will be laid to rest in Evergreen Cemetery with military honors.

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Glenn Snoddy, Nashville Recording Pioneer and Inventor of the Fuzz Pedal, Dies at 96