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Posts Tagged ‘Earl Scruggs’

Died On This Date (May 29, 2012) Doc Watson / Folk Music Icon

Posted by themusicsover on May 29, 2012

Arthel “Doc” Watson
March 2, 1923 – May 29, 2012

Doc Watson was an influential American singer, guitarist, and songwriter whose vast catalog of songs influenced several generations of folk, country, and bluegrass musicians.  Born in Deep Gap, North Carolina, Watson lost his eyesight before his first birthday due to an infection.  But that by no means stopped him from picking up whatever instrument was handed to him.  First it was the harmonica around age five, then the banjo at age 11, and ultimately, the guitar on which he mastered a style of flat-picking that the world had yet to hear and would seldom be matched since.  Although Watson was a popular draw wherever he played throughout the ’40s and ’50s, it wasn’t until the storied folk revival of the ’60s – when college kids took to the music like never before or since, that his popularity reached new heights.  Throughout his career, Watson received countless awards which included seven Grammys, a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award, and a National Medal Of Arts from President Bill Clinton.  In 1988, he launched Merlefest to honor his son and music partner, Merle Watson, who was killed in a tractor accident in 1985.  The Wilkesboro, North Carolina festival has grown to be one of the premier music gatherings in the United States with Watson playing host and sharing the stage with the likes of Alison Krauss, Ricky Skaggs, Earl Scruggs, Del McCoury, and Willie Nelson to name just a few.  The annual event draws an estimated 80,000 each year.  On May 29, 2012, Doc Watson passed away shortly following colon surgery.  He was 89.

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Died On This Date (May 8, 2012) Everett Lilly / Bluegrass’ The Lilly Brothers

Posted by themusicsover on May 8, 2012

Everett Lilly
July 1, 1924 – May 8, 2012

Photo by Michael Keller

Everett Lilly was a respected mandolin picker who, along with his brother, Bea Lilly, were known to the bluegrass world as the Lilly Brothers.  The Lilly Brothers got started singing on their local Appalachia radio stations during the 1940s, and folks took to their sound which has been likened to that of the Blue Sky Boys and the Monroe Brothers.  In 1952, they moved to Boston and are largely credited to bringing bluegrass to New England.   They quickly became a popular draw at area folk clubs, coffee houses, and festivals.  The Lilly Brothers went on to record several albums for such labels as Folkways and Prestige.  Prior to going off with his brother, Lilly played and sang for Lester Flatt and Earl Scruggs, and performed on the Grand Ole Opry as part of their Foggy Mountain Boys.  He also played on several of their early records.   In recent years, Lilly performed alongside his sons in the Lilly Mountaineers.  Everett Lilly was 87 when he passed away on May 8, 2012.

Thanks to Amy Cool Dorsey for the assist.


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Died On This Date (December 24, 2011) Jody Rainwater / Bluegrass Pioneer

Posted by themusicsover on December 24, 2011

Jody Rainwater (Born Charles Johnson)
1920 – December 24, 2011

Jody Rainwater was a bluegrass pioneer who found his calling as a teenager, at first playing the mandolin.  Before long, he and is brother were performing as Chuck and Slim, the Johnson Brothers.  The boys built a local following thanks in part to their comical on stage banter.  In 1937, they were hired by High Point, North Carolina radio station, WMFR to perform live every Thursday evening.  By 1945, the duo were no longer together, so Rainwater enlisted in the Marines and served during WWII.  Upon his discharge, he formed the Blue Ridge Mountain Boys with Woody Hauser and developed an onstage persona known as Little Jody.  By the late ’40s, they disbanded, and Rainwater was soon playing bass alongside Lester Flatt and Earl Scruggs in the Foggy Mountain Boys.   The band had a hit with the Rainwater composition, “I’m Waiting To Hear You Call Me Darling.”  Upon doctor’s orders, Rainwater retired from the group in 1952 and went to work hosting a morning radio show on WSVS.  His program quickly became the biggest money-maker at the station and would continue to be until his retirement in 1984.   He also performed local gigs with his own group from time to time during this period.  Jody Rainwater was 92 when he passed away on December 24, 2011.

Thanks to Paul Bearer for the assist.

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Died On This Date (August 16, 2005) Vassar Clements / Bluegrass Great

Posted by themusicsover on August 16, 2010

Vassar Clements
April 5, 1928 – August 16, 2005

Vassar Clements was an influential fiddler who, although mostly associated with bluegrass, also performed swing and jazz.  Self taught at the age of seven, it was only a matter of time before Clements successfully auditioned for Bill Monroe’s Blue Grass Boys.   He played and recorded with Monroe for the better part of seven years, after which he went off to become one of Nashville’s most in demand session fiddlers.  The list of artists he recorded with is staggering.  It includes Faron Young, John Hartford, Earl Scruggs, Jim & Jesse, the Grateful Dead, Paul McCartney, the Monkees, Dickey Betts, Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, Linda Ronstadt, and Jimmy Buffett.   Clements played on over 200 albums including nearly two dozen of his own.  In 2005, he won a Grammy for Best Instrumental Performance.  Vassar Clements died of cancer on August 16, 2005.  He was 77.

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Died On This Date (May 11, 1979) Lester Flatt / Flatt & Scruggs

Posted by themusicsover on May 11, 2010

Lester Flatt
June 19, 1914 – May 11, 1979

Lester Flatt was a singer and guitarist whose remarkable talents added to the success of Bill Monroe’s Blue Grass Boys through most of the ’40s.  In 1948, Flatt teamed up with banjo great Earl Scruggs to form Flatt & Scruggs and the Foggy Mountain Boys. Together they became one of the most popular bluegrass bands of their time and one of the most influential of all time. His smooth picking and rich voice can be heard on literally hundreds of songs that make up one of acoustic music’s most important catalogs. But perhaps Flatt’s biggest contribution to pop culture came by way of The Beverly Hillbillies for which they wrote and recorded its theme song, “The Ballad Of Jed Clampett,” backing singer Jerry Scoggins. They even appeared on the show as themselves a few times.  Lester Flatt died of heart disease on May 11, 1979.

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