Jesse James Cuno
was born in St. Louis, Missouri and raised in southern
Illinois. He started playing guitar at the age of 11 years
old. He learned on an electric guitar with no amplifier!
Jesse shared his guitar with his brother Fred. They were
taught their first chords by their father Charles, and
continued to learn songs from listening to the radio and
playing by ear! Jesse states that his earliest influences
were Chet Atkins, Carl Perkins and Scotty Moore, who was
Elvis Presley's guitar player. He began playing guitar
professionally at age 15 and remembers getting paid $7.50 a
night on his first gigs. He was so shy, that he stood with
his back to the audience. Jesse played locally at fairs and
other events until age 17.
It was at this time
that he had the opportunity to work with Jimmy Dupree from
Alabama. They did a Grande Ole Opry show in Flora, Illinois
with Lonzo and Oscar, Kitty Wells and Johnny and Jack. He
met Judy Lynn at this time and later joined her showband.
They toured with Opry stars throughout Iowa, Kansas, and
Arizona. Her show was well received in the Nevada circuit.
Jesse was featured playing lead guitar instrumentals such
as: "Apache", "Wheels", "Calcutta", and "The Bells of St.
Mary's". He also excelled in back-up vocals. They toured all
of the US except Hawaii. In 1964, they went to Sweden for an
extensive tour. He was with her show for 7 years.
Lynn, Jesse James Cuno.
Rogers, Judy Lynn, Jesse James Cuno.
In 1967, Jesse moved to Texas near the Dallas-Ft. Worth
area. After a short time, he was rated one of the best lead
guitar players in the region. It was at this time that Jesse
crossed paths with Mike Chapel. Mike was the drummer for the
Don and Donna Chapel Show, and also Donna's brother. He
heard Jesse play the guitar and told his dad, Don Chapel,
that he should hire him. This was when Jesse and Donna first
met. Jesse joined their show and played lead and steel
guitar for them.
Chapel, Donna Chapel, Mike Chapel, Ron Hogan, Jesse Cuno,
Bobby Penn, Ron Hogan, Jesse Cuno, Mike Chapel.
It was at this time
that Jesse and Donna fell in love. It was not to last, as
Donna left the road and settled in Iowa. Jesse remained with
Don Chapel for another year and then he also settled in the
midwest. He played with the Mike Chapel Show for 2 years
also. During these years Jesse and Donna would occasionally
see each other and always knew they still had strong
feelings for each other. Donna wrote a song on her new CD
called "My Love Is With You" especially for Jesse over 22
years ago. Their dream of being together was not realized
until 1999. They were married August 14 in Nashville with
close friends and family present. Jesse is now with the
Donna Chapel show and is a featured singer, lead guitar and
steel guitar player. He will be featured on an album in the
near future highlighting his musical talents. Donna is proud
to share the stage with her husband and best friend and both
are happy to be performing together the country music they