UCA Memorial Fund



Teddy Riedel's unique style of piano playing has been a fixture of American music for half a century. Born Teddy DeLano Riedel in 1937, Teddy's early years were spent on the family farm near Quitman, Arkansas. Teddy learned to play piano from his grade school teacher Annie Witt, who focused his lessons around boogie woogie and ragtime popular during the 1920s and 30s. By his teens, Teddy had developed his own style and was writing his own songs.

Teddy's break came at the age of 15 when he was asked to perform on KWCB radio in Searcy, Arkansas, on a program profiling young musicians from area schools. The station was soon flooded with requests for replays of his performance, Steel Guitar Rag. Lloyd Sutherland asked Teddy to join his band for their weekly radio program on KWCB, and Teddy began playing live shows with Sutherland and his band around central Arkansas.

In the winter of 1955, popular recording star Wayne Raney brought Teddy to Missouri to appear on his television program on KRCG in Jefferson City. In May 1955, Teddy followed Wayne to Wheeling, West Virginia, where he appeared Saturday nights on "The World's Original Jamboree" on WWVA radio. During the week, Teddy toured with Wayne and his band in Pennsylvania and upstate New York. In the fall of 1955, Teddy followed Wayne to WSLB in Baltimore, Maryland, and then briefly to XERF in Del Rio, Texas.

Teddy returned to Arkansas and began touring with Tommy Trent in 1956. Arlen Vaden asked Teddy to play backup for a recording session in 1959. When the lead singer came down with laryngitis, Teddy was given the studio time. Knocking on the Backside and its flipside, Before It Began, was released on Vaden Records under the stage name "Teddy Redell." It quickly became a popular selection in the juke boxes of eastern Arkansas.

Teddy's second release, Corrina Corrina / Gold Dust, was recorded at King Studios in Cincinnati, and released on the Vaden label in 1960. His third release, I Want to Hold You / Pipeliner soon followed, but it was his fourth release that would become his most famous. Judy was recorded in 1960 and released as the B side of Can't You See on the Vaden and Atco labels. The following year, Judy was released by Elvis Presley and stayed for several weeks on Billboard's Hot 100.

Teddy was drafted into the U.S. armed services in 1960. He completed basic training at Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri, and served the remainder of his two years at Fort Bliss, Texas. During his army years, Teddy continued to play local bars around El Paso.

Teddy returned to Arkansas in 1962 and began touring under his own name. In October 1962, Teddy joined with the Pacers to record his fifth release, Poor Ole Me / Between Midnite and Dawn, on Razorback Records.

In 1963, Teddy grew tired of the road and settled in Benton, Arkansas, to learn piano tuning from a professional piano technician. During the 1960s, he continued his songwriting career with an exclusive agreement for Sonny James. In 1964, Teddy married his wife Rose, and they eventually settled in Rose Bud, Arkansas, where he established his own piano service business.

Teddy returned to the music scene in the 1970s, performing regularly at local private clubs around Searcy. In 1979, Teddy was approached by record producer Cees Klop of the Netherlands. The first compilation of Teddy's Vaden recordings appeared on LP on White Label, along with a new LP of Teddy's popular club standards from the 1970s, such as Roll In My Sweet Baby's Arms.

Teddy's first European tour in 1988 took him to show dates in the Netherlands and Sweden, followed by a live album release on Collector Records. His second tour in 1991 took him again to the Netherlands and new venues in Germany. A CD compilation of this greatest works appeared that same year. Teddy toured the Netherlands and Sweden again in 1997. His fourth and most recent European tour was to the famous Hemsby Music Festival in England in 2002. A new CD of recordings spanning the 50 years of Teddy's musical career was released for the tour. In 2005, Teddy appearanced at Rockin' 50's Fest II in Green Bay, Wisconsin.

Teddy retired from piano tuning in 2011 but continued to perform for special events around Arkansas. He passed away on September 3, 2014, at the age of 77.