Lee Roy Parnell
Part of a long line of Texas roots-music eclectics, Lee Roy Parnell's music was a blend of hardcore honky tonk, barroom rock 'n' roll, blues, boogie, Western swing, blue-eyed soul, and occasional gospel. Parnell enjoyed a run of success on the country charts in the early '90s. He was born in Abilene, Texas, on Dec. 21, 1956, and grew up on his parents' ranch. His father had toured with a teen-aged Bob Wills in traveling medicine shows. Parnell's first public performance came on Bob's radio show at age six. As a teenager, he played drums in a local band and soon picked up guitar as well, eventually concentrating on slide playing. He joined Kinky Friedman's Texas Jewboys in his late teens and moved to Austin in 1974 to join the city's budding music scene.
Parnell moved to Nashville in 1987 and quickly landed a publishing contract as well as a regular spot at the famed Bluebird Café. He signed to Arista's Nashville division in 1989, and the next year released his self-titled debut album, a collection of horn-driven country-soul. In 1992, he released Love Without Mercy, which dispensed with the horns and emphasized Parnell's slide guitar. "What Kind of Fool Do You Think I Am" and "Tender Moment" both went to No. 2 on the country charts, and the title track also made the Top 10. On the Road, his 1993 release, produced two more Top 10 singles. His duet with Ronnie Dunn on Hank Williams' "Take These Chains from my Heart" cracked the Top 20. We All Get Lucky Sometimes, released in 1995,featured duets with Trisha Yearwood, Mary Chapin Carpenter and Tex-Mex accordionist Flaco Jimenez. It spawned two Top 5 hits -"A Little Bit of You" and "Heart's Desire." Parnell released two more albums on Arista, Every Night's a Saturday Night and Hits and Highways Ahead. On the rootsy Vanguard label, Parnell debuted 2001's Tell the Truth. He returned to the studio in 2006 with Back to the Well.
Hits and Highways Ahead