A Tribute To Clay Savage
by Bob Maickel
I am writing this tribute to Clay Savage, a very dear
friend and fellow PSGA officer, with great sorrow. Clay
served the Pedal Steel Guitar Association, as Treasurer, for
23 years. He volunteered to take on the responsibility when
the position opened unexpectedly. He did such a good job as
Treasurer, he was re-elected term after term. The fact that
he was a retired bank officer was a definite plus.
Clay was an accomplished photographer who loved the steel
guitar. His wonderful photos of steel guitar players taken
at our steel events, as well as steel guitar conventions
here and abroad, were admired by all who saw them. While
Clay was the official photographer for this newsletter, his
photos have also appeared in many other publications.
There are very few steel-playing photographers with
Clay's talent. He was a very capable steel guitarist but
refused to perform on steel in public. At a young age Clay
experienced permanent damage to his left hand from injuries
received in an auto accident. This condition made it
difficult for him to maintain control of the bar as he
played steel. I can verify that Clay was an excellent
player. I am honored that he felt comfortable enough to play
steel for me. He had a wonderful vibrato and was at home on
both lap and pedal steel. He loved Hawaiian music, but was
quite adept playing pedal steel no matter what music was
Clay was fortunate enough to have taken lessons from
Eddie Alkire. He felt comfortable playing the Alkire 10
string tuning and was an accomplished E-Harp player. He had
no reservations about playing a 10 string E9th pedal set up.
He enjoyed playing his MSA pedal steel, 6 string
Rickenbacker bakelite, Jerry Byrd Excel fry pan and Excel
double 8. Each of his instruments had a different tuning.
Clay had them tuned to everything from E9th to B11th. He had
specific song arrangements worked out for each tuning.
Clay and Lois Savage were our good will ambassadors at
steel events. They were a magnificent team. They set up and
manned our PSGA booth, greeting PSGA members, signing up new
members, and making a lot of new friends who later became
members. After Lois passed on, Clay continued to represent
the PSGA at the various shows. He loved attending every show
possible, with camera in hand, and had a special place in
his heart for the Dallas show. The March 1997 Dallas
convention was the last show that he was able to attend.
His plans to attend the Knoxville show had to be canceled
due to increasing health problems and subsequent
hospitalization. Clay had airline tickets in hand to fly to
the HSGA convention in Hawaii, in May, but he was again
admitted to the hospital having suffered a stroke. He passed
away on May 15th 1997.
There are no words to describe what a pleasure it was to
have known Clay. He was a unique individual with a warm
personality. Everyone liked him. He did his part in
promoting the steel guitar and all who play the instrument.
He donated most of his free time to the PSGA. He traveled to
all the steel shows at his own expense (as the rest of our
officers have always done). He donated, without charge, all
the wonderful photographs that we've printed in this
newsletter. He kept meticulous track of the PSGA finances
through thick and thin. He was always available to help
solve a problem or give his valuable objective advice. We
will miss Clay and will continue to carry on in his absence
to the best of our abilities, as he would have expected us
I know that Clay and Lois must be organizing a new steel
guitar show, with Lois manning the booth and Clay running
around taking "heavenly" photos of a band of angels.