“When my dad passed, I didn’t know what happened to his ’55 Tele. I got a call: ‘I need you to check something out.’ When I walked in, there’s a guitar case on the floor…” Nashville session master Rob McNelley on Lady A, Buddy Guy and an emotional reunion

Rob McNelley
(Image credit: Craig Young)

As if playing alongside seminal country artists like Luke Bryan, Kenny Chesney, Miranda Lambert, Lee Ann Womack and Wynonna Judd wasn’t enough, Nashville-based Tele-toter Rob McNelley is a three-time winner of the Academy of Country Music’s Guitar Player of the Year.

It’s well-earned – with his twangy yet bluesy and soulful sound filling the airwaves, McNelley is proud when he reflects on the sessions that mean the most. “There’s a lot of them,” he says. “But when I recorded Need You Now with Lady Antebellum [now known as Lady A – Ed], that was such a big song that it put me out there. When everybody seemed to find out about me, it was because of that song.”

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Andrew Daly

Andrew Daly is an iced-coffee-addicted, oddball Telecaster-playing, alfredo pasta-loving journalist from Long Island, NY, who, in addition to being a contributing writer for Guitar World, scribes for Rock Candy, Bass Player, Total Guitar, and Classic Rock History. Andrew has interviewed favorites like Ace Frehley, Johnny Marr, Vito Bratta, Bruce Kulick, Joe Perry, Brad Whitford, Rich Robinson, and Paul Stanley, while his all-time favorite (rhythm player), Keith Richards, continues to elude him.