by John Tarpley
Robert Randolph took up the pedal steel — the single most stubborn instrument this writer has ever tried to coax a sound out of — at an African-American Pentecostal Church in his native New Jersey. Long used in House of God services, the pedal steel (or, as it's called in the church, the "sacred steel") is used in place of a traditional church organ. After cutting his teeth with praise music, Randolph took his piece from the church to the clubs and everything since is history. And what a history it is: one that includes world tours, collaborations with the other God (Clapton), being named one of the 100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time by Rolling Stone and putting on the best concert in Harding University history.
Check it out: "Ain't Nothing Wrong With That" (live on Letterman, 2006)