Last Date – Floyd Cramer

THIS DAY IN MUSIC……………………………………..on July 14th of 1960 pianist Floyd Cramer records his biggest hit, “Last Date”, which will reach #2 in the US by next November, selling over a million copies. An instrumental written and performed by Floyd Cramer. It exemplifies the “slip note” style of piano playing that Cramer made popular. It peaked at #11 on the country chart. Cramer’s recording inspired a number of successful cover versions, including a vocal adaptation by Conway Twitty. Cramer was born in Shreveport, Louisiana, and grew up in the small town of Huttig, Arkansas. He taught himself to play the piano. After finishing high school, he returned to Shreveport, where he worked as a pianist for the radio show Louisiana Hayride. In 1955 Cramer moved to Nashville, where piano accompaniment in country music was growing in popularity. By the next year he was, in his words, “in day and night doing session”. Before long, he was 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, Eddy Arnold, Roy Orbison, Don Gibson, and the Everly Brothers, among others. It was Cramer’s piano playing, for instance, on Presley’s first RCA Victor single, “Heartbreak Hotel”. However, Cramer remained strictly a session player, a virtual unknown to anyone outside the music industry. “Last Date” as mentioned went to #2 on the Billboard Hot 100 pop music chart, sold over one million copies, and was awarded a gold disc. The song was kept out of the #1 position by Elvis Presley’s “Are You Lonesome Tonight”. Interestingly and perhaps ironically, the session pianist for Elvis’s recording of that #1 song, in a very early morning session (about 4:00 AM) at RCA Studio B in Nashville, was none other than Floyd Cramer himself.