Wayma "Pee Wee" Whitewing

Biography by

Best known for his tenure with Hank Thompson's Brazos Valley Boys, steel guitar virtuoso Wayma "Pee Wee" Whitewing was born February 11, 1934, in Concer, OK. The product of a farming family,…
Read Full Biography

Artist Biography by

Best known for his tenure with Hank Thompson's Brazos Valley Boys, steel guitar virtuoso Wayma "Pee Wee" Whitewing was born February 11, 1934, in Concer, OK. The product of a farming family, as a child he was an avid fan of Bob Wills & His Texas Playboys' daily radio broadcast on Tulsa station KVOO. The Whitewings relocated to Santa Clara, CA, in 1941, and there Pee-Wee received his first lap steel, a chrome Rickenbacker he played in his Pentecostal church choir. In 1946, he made his professional debut with Tex Randall & the Texans, appearing daily on their KEEN radio broadcast. While sitting in with honky tonk legend Lefty Frizzell, Whitewing befriended Cajun fiddler Abe Manuel, who helped him land a gig with Blackie Crawford & the Western Cherokees in mid-1951. With Crawford, Whitewing backed Frizzell, Ray Price, Tex Ritter, and other country favorites, and the exposure brought him to the attention of Thompson's manager, Billy Gray, who was seeking a steel guitarist to replace the Brazos Valley Boys' military-bound Curly Chalker.

Whitewing made his recorded debut on the 1952 Thompson session that yielded songs including "Rub-a-Dub-Dub" and "I'll Sign Your Heart Away." He nevertheless left the Brazos Valley Boys for six months in 1953 before returning to the fold when Thompson announced plans to pursue a more big band-influenced approach. Whitewing spent another two years with the Brazos Valley Boys, appearing on Thompson efforts including "We've Gone Too Far to Turn Back Now," "New Green Light," and "I'd Have Never Found Somebody New" before the group dissolved and the guitarist returned to the San Jose area to raise a family. There he joined with childhood friends Bobby and Larry Black to form the Western swing combo the West Coast All Stars, earning an impressive local following before relocating to his wife Doye's native Lafayette, LA, in 1964. There Whitewing emerged as a sought-after studio musician, appearing on countless sessions produced by the legendary J.D. Miller at his Crowley-area recording facility. He retired from music in 1971 to join his sons Andrus and Andre in the oil business, barely touching his steel guitar over the next two decades. However, throughout the 1990s Whitewing and fellow steel legend Bobby White regularly appeared at steel guitar conventions across the U.S.