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Update: 2015. Some of Dell's family members wrote us and corrected his date of passing, which
was 1989, not 1984. Some additional comments were made about Dell's sister, his father, and etc,
but that is too personal to post. Thanks to the family members.
In 1989, South Florida Lost a guitar virtuoso. Below is Dell Staton's "Bio."
At age 8, Dell won his first guitar in a marble game in Gauley Bridge, West Virginia about 15 miles from his birth place in Oak Hill. Dell was self taught and left handed, but just played his guitar right handed without changing the strings.
Dell was an only child and his parents died early. Subsequently, Dell became a problem child running away from home and didn't like school. Dell was encouraged to enroll in military school at Greenbrier Military Academy where he attended for three years. However, he ran from this school also in his first year and tried to hitch-hike out of town. In one escape a motorist who stopped to give him a ride turned out to be a school head, but after three years he turned out to be one of the best students.
At Greenbrier Military Dell became aware of jazz music and started studying music. That led to his enrollment at the Cincinnati Conservatory of Music, but no guitar program existed as the guitar was considered an unorthdox instrument. No teacher would teach that instrument.
So Dell studied bass and practiced guitar at night. Dell attended the Conservatory for three (3) years then orgqanized his first group. Later he joind the Chico Marx band as the rhythem guitarist for a year then formed his second group.
World War II, interrupted his plans, but gave him a chance to work with larger bands. Shipped overseas Dell was assigned to Gen. Patton's Third Army. When Patton entered Czechoslovakia Dell met one of Europe's premier classical guitarists: Anton Mettal. Dell studied under Mettal for some time. Mettal being impressed with Dell's musicianship he constructed a classical guitar for Dell. It is one of Dell's prized possessions.
After the WW II, Dell returned to Cincinnati and was approached by the Conservatory to teach classical guitar. Dell taught at the Conservatory for two years and formed another group performing at a local radio station and other locales.
At one performance a local a fan from Minneapolis arranged to have the Dell Staton group appear on the Arthur Godfrey Talent Show. Here the trio won the show and and appeared three more times on the show.
CBS recieved calls about the group and Godfrey invited Dell to stay on the program. After three weeks of radio and TV exposure the trio started traveling. Appearances at the Hippodrome in Baltimore, the Shore Club in Hollywood, FL, the Embers in Miami, the Vagabond Club, and the Hotel New Yorker in NYC is only a few of the locales the trio performed at. Dell's trio made several return visits to Godfrey's Show and appeard on Ed Sullivan's Network Show.
Eventually Dell settled in West Hollywood FL with his wife "Terry" and his large family: Dell Jr., Jimmy, Donna, Laura, Linda, and Jill. Here, Dell continued to perform locally, taking private students, and taught at BJC (now called Broward Community College).
Dell continued to represent Gibson Guitars as he peformed with a Gibson Super 400. Being a solo performer Dell removed a set of bass pedals from an organ, encased them, and played bass by tapping them with his foot while performing to add the bass lines to the chord changes. A rhythm box and echo-plex made up additional sounds and effects that created quite a full sound rich in harmony and accompaniment.
As the Gibson representative for the area Dell was the person to see for technician repairs, restorations, and refinishing. Knowledge that he acquired over the years when studying with Anton Mettal in Europe and being associated with the Gibson factory in Kalamazoo, Mi.
Dell's technician work is a subject in itself and too long to go into here. Suffice to say that a large following of students and guitar repairs came to Dell Staton hearing about his technician skills and guitar playing skills.
Losing Dell at the young age of 69, was a loss to musicianship, a loss of formidable harmony knowledge, and a loss of a kind and gentle person. There will never be another musician's muscian like Dell Staton.