Steel guitarist Jerry Brightman was one of Buck Owens' Buckaroos during the first half of the '70s, and with them, he performed on TV's wacky variety show, Hee Haw before moving into the business side of music, and helping start the annual country festival, Jamboree in the Hills, in his homestate of Ohio. Born in Akron, Brightman picked up the steel guitar at a young age and was performing publicly by the time he was a teenager. At the summer concerts at Salem, OH's Ponderosa Park, he got to hear -- and be heard by -- steel guitarists touring with nationally renowned artists including Conway Twitty's steel player John Hughey and Don Helms, who was on the road with Hank Williams Jr. at the time.
Word got out about the talented young player, and in October 1969, he was offered a high-exposure position with the house band of the Jamboree U.S.A. radio show, at the Wheeling Jamboree in West Virginia. The high visibility paid off and led to an invitation to record with country star Buck Owens; Brightman, just 18, was soon a full-time member of Owens' backing band. As a Buckaroo, Brightman toured extensively, performing in Japan, Australia, not to mention the Grand Ole Opry, NY's Madison Square Garden, and the Grand Opening of Disney World! He also got to perform on the CBS down home variety show Hee-Haw, which was co-hosted by Buck Owens. Unfortunately, when Don Rich, guitarist and main man of the Buckaroos, died in a motorcycle accident in July 1974, the group was irrevocably changed and, within a year, Jerry Brightman left the band.
In 1977, Brightman put his steel guitar in semi-retirement (he continued to perform occasionally at conventions) and entered the business arena of the music industry. In addition to working for Columbia, Brightman was involved in organizing the initial Jamboree in the Hills, a multi-day outdoor country music festival which became an annual event that has been called the "The Superbowl of Country Music," with crowds numbering in the several tens of thousands. Jerry Brightman went on to serve as executive producer and director of Jamboree U.S.A.'s broadcast (where he had worked in his teens), was recognized with awards for his contributions to Columbia Pictures, and continues to enjoy family life with his wife Kathie and their two daughters.