Greg Reding is not your typical guitar playing, singer/songwriter. Like many musicians of his generation, he was inspired by the Beatles performance on the Ed Sullivan show to start a band. That lit a fire in him that has never burned out.
Greg talked his parents into buying him a guitar and he has never looked back. I had a chance to interview him, he told me about his days as part of the Village Sound, working with another Memphis music icon Pat Taylor. As a member of that group Greg was playing keyboards, a Hammond B3 organ to be more specific, rather than the bass which he had played up until then. They were good enough to open for the Rascals at the Mid-South Coliseum.
Greg’s mother also thought they good. So good, in fact, that she walked into Stax Records one day, found owner Jim Stewart and convinced him to sign the Village Sound on the Hip Records label, the “white” subsidiary of Stax. The result was several single releases including one co-written by WMC FM100 DJ, Jon Scott called “Hey Jack, Don’t Hijack My Plane.”
It wasn’t long and Greg had the chance to work with Ardent Studio’s engineer and producing wizard, Terry Manning and a man would become one of Memphis’ best session guitarist, Jack Holder with the Hot Dogs. Greg had me in tears when he was telling me about the Hot Dogs playing at the Whiskey A-Go-Go. The Hot Dogs were Greg Reding, Jack Holder, Bill Rennie and Fred Prouty. As the emcee announced them, he said “Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to the Whiskey A-Go-Go. It is our great pleasure to introduce to you a band that we are sure that you will relish, a band that is destined to cut the mustard, please get off your buns and welcome the Hot Dogs.” Greg said he felt like the Saturday morning program The Banana Splits. Just throw some costumes on us and call us the Hot Dogs.
Southern rock was Greg’s next stop playing guitar for Black Oak Arkansas with his buddy from the Hot Dogs, Jack Holder and Memphis veteran drummer, Joel Williams. Greg had some great stories to tell about his time with Black Oak on the road. He also had some problems with the band’s management which is why he and many of the other members left.
He also worked with blues legend Albert King. Although at the time he didn’t realize exactly how revered King was among Greg’s own guitar heroes.
These examples are just some of the groups Greg has worked with, The Village Sound, The Hot Dogs, Black Oak Arkansas and Albert King. You expect a musician to talk about his triumphs in an interview, but Greg also talked about some of his missteps and his most embarrassing moments of his career. Greg Reding is nothing if not honest. He believes “it is what it is” more than anyone I’ve ever talked to. He told me about the opportunity of a lifetime for him, playing with one of his idols, Stephen Stills. The outcome was less than stellar.
Greg is still in a group he formed in 1983 called the Memphis All-Stars that we will talk about in a future article along with his new “real” job as a music teacher at Memphis’ School of Rock.