"Neal was very instrumental in creating the 'Nashville sound' in
that he developed the numbering system for chords," said Gordon Stoker, who had been
a member of The Jordanaires for four years when Neal joined the group in 1953. "It
was a shorthand version for the chords," Gordon added. "You assign a chord a
number, and if you change the key, it doesn't matter. "We were using it a few years
before everybody else found out about it and started using it. Years later, we were in
Germany, and they were using it over there, too."
For 50 years, The Jordanaires
have been known worldwide as one of the most versatile vocal quartets in music. Their
background harmony style became an integral part of hit recordings by Elvis Presley, Patsy
Cline, Ricky Nelson and countless other great stars. Most recently, the quartet had been
performing in Las Vegas.
Neal joined the quartet as second tenor after serving in the U.S. Army from 1951-53. He
served some of that time in Korea and was awarded a Bronze Star.
Neal was a native of Nashville and a son of Evelyn Walker Matthews of Nashville, and
the late Neal Matthews Sr. He was a graduate of Hume-Fogg High School and then attended
Belmont College until The Jordanaires began traveling with Elvis Presley in 1956. In
February 1957, Neal married the former Charlsie Stewart of Nashville.
"He was truly one of the most kind and compassionate men I have ever known,"
said Neal's daughter, Lisa Matthews Doster. "He was a wonderful father and husband.
"He treated Mom with the utmost respect and love."
Donna Hilley, president and CEO, Sony/ATV Tree Music Publishing, said Neal's creation
system made it possible for people who were session players to learn a song more
"Neal always had a kind word for everybody and was never too busy to talk to
someone who was interested in getting into the music industry,"