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Born in Shreveport, Louisiana, Cramer grew up in the small town of Huttig, Arkansas, teaching himself to play the piano. After finishing high school, he returned to Shreveport, where he worked as a pianist for the Louisiana Hayride radio show.
In 1952, he made his way to Nashville at a time when the use of piano accompanists in country music was growing in popularity. Before long, Cramer would become one of the busiest studio musicians in the industry, playing piano for stars such as Elvis Presley, Brenda Lee, Patsy Cline, The Browns, Jim Reeves, Roy Orbison, Don Gibson and the Everly Brothers, and many others. It is Cramer’s piano that is heard, for example, on Presley’s first national hit, “Heartbreak Hotel.”
However, Cramer remained a virtual unknown to anyone but music industry insiders until he recorded a 45 rpm single in 1960 called “Last Date.” An instrumental, the music exhibited a relatively new concept for piano playing known as the “slip note” style. The record went to #2 on the Billboard Hot 100 pop music chart.
By the mid-1960s, Cramer had become a respected performer, making numerous record albums and touring with guitar maestro Chet Atkins and saxophonist Boots Randolph.
Floyd Cramer died of lung cancer in 1997 at the age of 64 and was interred in the Spring Hill Cemetery in the Nashville suburb of Madison, Tennessee.
In 2003, he was inducted into both the Country Music Hall of Fame and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
East Tennessee State University in Johnson City, Tennessee offers the “Floyd Cramer Competitive Scholarship.”