Red Steely 1982

red_steeley

Albert Lee Steeley, better-known as “RED” Steeley, was born September 10, 1893 at Scottsboro, Alabama. His grandmother was a Taylor; a family which consisted of many fiddlers. Bob and “Alf” Taylor, brothers of Red’s grandmother, were fiddlers. Both ran for Governor of Tennessee, and one was elected and fulfilled that office.

Red came to Texas when he was 8 or 10 years old. He was 5 years old when he first played the fiddle–one which his brother, 7 years of age, had made. The family first came to East Texas, then moved to Central Texas, and finally settled in North Texas. Red was married when he was eighteen to Mary Elizabeth Bodine. They celebrated their 54th wedding anniversary before she passed away. Three years later on the same date, December 16, 1969, Mr. Steeley also passed away at the age of 75 years.
Albert Lee “Red” Steeley
Inducted in 1982
Listen to Red playing The Fatal Wedding

Red Steeley had very little education, but he was a very gifted person. Most of his life was spent in farming south of Arlington, Texas. During the Depression he worked as a fiddle-maker and repairman for Joe Stamp in north Ft. Worth. In1929, he almost turned into a professional fiddler. He made 10 double-faced records of fiddle music for Brunswick. He knew at least four hundred fiddle tunes. He especially enjoyed playing hornpipes, schottisches, waltzes and reels. His favorite breakdown was “Billy in the Low Ground”. His daughter, Mildred, played with him as accompanist on the guitar.

Mr. Steeley won Top Place in the Fiddling Contest at the Centennial Fair in Dallas. He was a good friend of Irvin, Vernon and Norman Solomon, Benny Thomasson and the Franklins-and they enjoyed playing many hours of fiddle tunes together. However, Mr. Steeley enjoyed making fiddles rather than playing them; and perhaps it is in this regard that the many fiddlers in this part of Texas best knew and remember him. Mr. and Mrs. Steeley had two children, Mildred (Mrs. Garth Watkins) of Carthage, Texas and Rev. Jim Steeley of Irving, Texas. Jim has two children and four grandchildren. Mildred has five children and 12 grandchildren. Of the seven grandchildren of Red and Mary Elizabeth Steeley, five have degrees from major universities.