SAN ANTONIO, Tx. – It’s been 85 years since Gid Tanner and his 17 year old son Gordon Tanner, along with the rest of the newly reassembled Skillet Lickers, made the roughly 1,000-mile drive from Atlanta, Georgia to the Gunter Hotel in downtown San Antonio, Texas. The group, which had disbanded in 1931, but reformed three years later for one final session with RCA, recorded what was undoubtedly their most successful album of all. The session, which featured the ‘Down Yonder’ and ‘Back Up and Push’ album sold millions in the middle of the Great Depression and set a new standard for American Country music.
A new chapter in the story was written on Wednesday afternoon as Russ Tanner, fiddle and bow in hand, walked into the historic Gunter Hotel (now operated by Sheraton) on E. Houston Street.
Russ became the first Skillet Licker to perform in the historic building since Gid and Gordon nearly a century ago.
Skillet Licker fandom spreads far and wide. Even 94 years after his first recordings with Riley Puckett in 1924, Gid Tanner’s legacy continues to live on and thrive around the globe, even in the unlikeliest of places — like a Swedish tattoo parlor.
Olle Strandberg is a 75-year-old old-time fiddler from Stockholm, Sweden. As years passed and as he continued to master the art of fiddling, his fascination into American folk and old-time music continued to grow. He became very familiar with Skillet Licker classics of the 1920’s and ’30s and learned these early favorites on his fiddle. As he learned more and more of the Skillet Licker tunes, his love for the old-time band and its historic legacy grew. In fact, it grew so much that he felt inclined to get a tattoo of the late Gid Tanner — patriarch of the original Skillet Licker group on his upper right bicep with the inscription “Gid is my co-pilot” underneath an image of the iconic fiddler.
The picture and wording was taken from a popular Skillet Licker t-shirt. It’s probably safe to say it was the first and only Gid Tanner tattoo drawn by the tattoo artist in Stockholm.
Strandberg, a retired photographer and father of two, stopped by the ‘Chicken House’ in Dacula to check out the many different Skillet Licker artifacts and jam with Phil Tanner, Russ Tanner, and Larry Nash of the current day Skillet Lickers for the better part of Sunday evening. Strandberg also visited the grave of Gid Tanner, located at Hebron Church in Dacula.
Strandberg says he visits the United States on occasion and visits old-time music festivals along the way. “Everywhere I go … every time I go ply somewhere … I have to go around showing off this tattoo like this,” Strandberg remarked while laughing as he exposed his tattoo while reaching out his arm. “Everyone just loves it.”