Alvin Wayne Casey (October 26, 1936 – September 17, 2006) was an American guitarist. He was mainly noted for his work as a session musician, but also released his own records and scored three Billboard Hot 100 hits in the United States. His contribution to the rockabilly genre has been recognized by the Rockabilly Hall of Fame.
Al Casey was born in Long Beach, California, but he was raised in Phoenix, Arizona, where his family moved in 1938. He grew up with Sanford Clark and together they developed an interest in popular music. Clark sang in school productions, while Casey took guitar and piano lessons. By the time he reached seventeen, he was already a veteran of the Phoenix music scene.. As a member of the Sunset Riders, he was featured on radio (The Arizona Hayride) and television as well as playing on the first Viv sessions for Lee Hazlewood, then a disc jockey at KCKY in Coolidge, Arizona.
Hazlewood was looking for someone to record his composition "The Fool". It was Casey who introduced Lee to Sanford Clark, Al's lifelong friend. Backing Clark on the session were Al (who came up with a guitar riff based on Hubert Sumlin's lick on "Smokestack Lightning" by Howlin' Wolf) and his guitarist wife Corky. The rhythm section consisted of bassist Jimmy Wilcox and drummer Connie Conway, who jointly owned the tiny MCI label. So great was Casey's contribution that he received label credit ("Al Casey, guitar"), a rare feat for a sideman, then and now. The original MCI single of Sanford Clark's "The Fool" attracted little attention, but after it was reissued on Dot in July 1956, it soon reached the Billboard Top 10, peaking at # 7.
Casey played most stringed instruments, including the piano. He played on countless Phoenix sessions in 1956 and 1957. Casey cut several instrumental singles, then paired with another local, Jody Reynolds, and cut "Endless Sleep," which also landed on national charts. He was also part of the backup for Duane Eddy's recordings, playing bass, piano, and rhythm guitar. Casey wrote (and performed) one of Eddy's earliest hits, "Ramrod" (1958), as well as co-writing another Eddy hit, "Forty Miles of Bad Road" (1959). (Press photo of Johnny Reminger, Duane Eddy & Al Casey)
Casey began working with his own ensemble, The Al Casey Combo, in the early 1960s. With this group he scored three instrumental hits: "Cookin" (U.S. #92, 1962), "Jivin' Around" (U.S. #71, 1962), and "Surfin' Hootenanny" (U.S. #48, 1963), recorded with Hazlewood.
While still in Phoenix, Casey continued to record occasional instrumentals under his own name, as well as with his wife, singer Corky Casey, but none of them hit with listeners. Instead, Casey went on the road with Corky as part of a folk-music act, the Raintree County Singers. The group recorded one album on Bob Shad's Time Records. Casey's solo career petered out when the small independent label he recorded for, Stacy Records, folded in 1964. Later he was a featured guitarist on the "Exotic Guitars" series of albums on the Ranwood Records label.
As a member of The Wrecking Crew, he worked as a session musician for artists such as The Beach Boys, Phil Spector, Elvis Presley, Glen Campbell, The Association, The Monkees, Johnny Cash, Eddy Arnold, Simon & Garfunkel, The 5th Dimension, Harry Nilsson, The Partridge Family, Frank Sinatra, and Nancy Sinatra on "These Boots Are Made for Walkin'". He also played as a member of the band on The Dean Martin Show. Although Casey also opened a guitar shop in Hollywood from 1966 – 1970, he eventually decided to return to Phoenix in the early 1980s where he raised the quality of any gig he played and began a long running teaching career at Ziggie's Music.
He continued recording into the 1990s, including an LP release, Sidewinder, for Bear Family Records, in that decade . In 2001, he played guitar, dobro, mandolin, and banjo on Al Beasley's A Rainbow in the Clouds album, recorded live at the Kerr Cultural Center in Scottsdale, Arizona. Casey spent his later years teaching and playing locally, often with Jody Reynolds. In 2001 he came to the UK with Sanford Clark and they appeared with great success at the Hemsby Rock'n'Roll Weekend in Norfolk. Casey, along with many of his fellow studio musicians, is featured in the documentary film The Wrecking Crew.
Casey died on September 17, 2006 in Phoenix, Arizona.
(Info edited from various sources including Wikipedia)