Byrl Stephens bought a colorful second-hand guitar and tried to learn to play it, but never took to it. He entered the Marines shortly thereafter and left the guitar behind.

It would have stayed in the back of his closet until it was sold at a garage sale except for the curiosity of his little brother.

"Norm was about 12-years-old then," Byrl Stephens said of his brother. "He taught himself how to play that guitar."

Norm Stephens died May 11 of emphysema at his home in Cottonwood, Calif.

Byrl Stephens, who has lived in Miami for the last several years, feels that although his brother never lived in Northeastern Oklahoma people here will miss him anyway.

The self-taught guitar player was a legend in country music, according to his brother.

He most recently played in Merle Haggard’s band "The Strangers."

"My brother played with Lefty Frizzell on ‘You Got the Money, I Got the Time,’" Byrl Stephens said. "He performed in the Grand Ole’ Opry."

According to Byrl Stephens, his brother loved being on stage and performing.

"He loved being in front of people," Byrl Stephens said. "He loved to sign autographs."

When he wasn’t on stage, Norm Stephens worked as a logger and eventually as an engineer.

Byrl Stephens got to see his brother a few weeks before he died.

"One thing Norm wanted me to get out," Byrl Stephens said. "He wanted me to warn people not to smoke. Smoking resulted in the emphysema that killed him."