Lee Roy Parnell (born December 21, 1956) is an American country music and blues artist, singer, songwriter, and guitarist. Active since 1990, he has recorded eight studio albums, and has charted more than twenty singles on the Billboard Hot Country Singles & Tracks (now Hot Country Songs) charts. His highest-charting hits are "What Kind of Fool Do You Think I Am" (1992), "Tender Moment" (1993), and "A Little Bit of You" (1995), all of which peaked at No. 2. Four more of his singles have charted in the Top Ten as well. Besides his own work, Parnell has played slide guitar and National guitar on several other country recordings.
Lee Roy Parnell was born on December 21, 1956 in Abilene, Texas, but raised in Stephenville, Texas. His father had performed with Bob Wills, and Parnell gave his first performance at age six on Wills's radio show. Parnell played guitar and drums in various bands during his teenage years. By 1987, he moved to Nashville, Tennessee, where he signed with the newly formed Arista Nashville two years later.
Lee Roy Parnell
Parnell released his self-titled debut album for Arista Records in 1990. This album produced three chart singles in "Crocodile Tears", "Oughta Be a Law" and "Family Tree", none of which charted in the Top 40 on the Billboard country charts. A video for "Mexican Money" was created and released, but the song was not released to radio.
Love Without Mercy
Following this album was his breakthrough release, 1992's Love Without Mercy. Although its lead-off single "The Rock" also fell short of Top 40, its next three singles all reached Top Ten: "What Kind of Fool Do You Think I Am" at No. 2, the title track at No. 8, and finally "Tender Moment" also at No. 2. These three songs were all Top Ten hits on the RPM charts in Canada.
On the Road
1993's On the Road, his third album and final release for Arista proper also produced two top-10 hits: the title track and "I'm Holding My Own", at No. 6 and No. 3 respectively. The album also contained a No. 17-peaking rendition of the Hank Williams song "Take These Chains from My Heart", which Parnell recorded as a duet with Ronnie Dunn of Brooks & Dunn, although Dunn was not credited on the charts. The final single from On the Road, "The Power of Love", peaked at No. 51.
We All Get Lucky Sometimes
His fourth album, 1995's We All Get Lucky Sometimes, was also his first for Career Records, then a newly formed subsidiary of Arista Nashville. This album's lead-off single "A Little Bit of You" was the third single of his career to reach No. 2. Following it were the No. 12 "When a Woman Loves a Man" (featuring background vocals from Trisha Yearwood), the No. 3 "Heart's Desire" and another No. 12 in "Giving Water to a Drowning Man". The album's title track, which was its fifth single, peaked at No. 46. The album also included an instrumental "Mama Screw Your Wig On Tight" which was nominated for a Grammy Award in 1997 for Best Country Instrumental.
Every Night's a Saturday Night and Hits and Highways Ahead
Every Night's a Saturday Night was his final release for Career Records. This was his first album since his debut release that did not produce a Top Ten hit, and only three singles were released from it: "Lucky Me, Lucky You" at No. 35, "You Can't Get There From Here" at No. 39 (his final Top 40 hit), and "All That Matters Anymore" at No. 50. After Career Records was merged back into Arista Nashville, Parnell released his final album for the Arista label, 1999's Hits and Highways Ahead. This album's only single, "She Won't Be Lonely Long", peaked at No. 57, and by the year's end, he exited Arista's roster.
Tell the Truth and Back to the Well
Parnell signed to Vanguard Records in 2000, releasing the album Tell the Truth that year. This album's only single, "South by Southwest", failed to chart, and he soon left the label as well. His final album, Back to the Well, came in 2006 on Universal South Records, although it also produced only one non-charting single in "Daddies and Daughters."
Besides playing slide guitar and National guitar on his albums and co-writing several of his own songs, Parnell has co-written two Top 40 country hits for other artists: "Too Much" by Pirates of the Mississippi and "That's My Story" by Collin Raye, from 1992 and 1993 respectively. In 1994, he and Steve Wariner collaborated with Diamond Rio on a cover of Merle Haggard's "Workin' Man's Blues", credited to Jed Zeppelin and recorded for a tribute album Mama's Hungry Eyes. This rendition peaked at No. 48 on the country charts. He played slide guitar on Mary Chapin Carpenter's late-1994 Number One hit "Shut Up and Kiss Me", and appeared in the song's music video. His final chart entry was in late 2004, when he was credited for playing slide guitar on David Lee Murphy's No. 46-peaking single "Inspiration", from the album Tryin' to Get There.
Parnell has three children: Son Blake (1980) Daughter Allison (1985) & Son Jack (2011). His brother, Rob Roy Parnell, is a harmonica player.