If you follow national music news, you don’t need me to tell you that world-renowned bluegrass banjo artist Earl Scruggs passed away on Wednesday at the age of 88. If you’re a bluegrass or country music fan, you don’t need me to describe for you his style of banjo picking and the resulting sound. But I thought I would pull together some of the articles I read while looking for more about the life of this performer I used to watch occasionally on my parents’ country music television picks.
So here they are: The Tennessean, with its story (my personal favorite) of the man who brought people of all music styles together by simply playing music right along with them; The New York Times; the Los Angeles Times; celebrity tributes on CBS; and NPR’s The Record, including the accompanying radio clip.
Rest in peace, Earl. Rest in peace.
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In recent days we have seen the loss of several folk music personages, each known for a different type of role. Bess Lomax Hawes, folklorist and musician, passed away on November 27th. Following in the footsteps of her father John Lomax and making giant footsteps of her own, she spent her life working to preserve folk music in different forms. Jack Cooke, of the Clinch Mountain Boys, died December 1st. In Ireland, the last of the Clancy Brothers, Liam Clancy, died December 4th.Read More Add a Comment
We wrote last week that Argentine folk singer Mercedes Sosa had been taken into intensive care. She passed away today, leaving a legacy of Latin American music including more than 70 albums and of a life devoted to using her music to bring attention to everyday social issues. She had been nominated for multiple Latin Grammy awards (ceremony to take place next month). Vicente Panetta of the Associated Press has her story in USA Today.Read More Add a Comment
Mary Travers, of Peter, Paul and Mary, died today in hospital after battling cancer for several years. Read the full AP story at any of these sites: MSNBC, Yahoo or The New York Times. As someone who sang “Blowin’ in the Wind” along with my friend’s record as a pre-teen, walked out on a high school talent pageant runway to the music of “Leaving on a Jet Plane” and cried to the sound of “Day is Done” just a few years ago when a member of my family was overseas in a militarized zone, I feel that a piece of my life is gone. And yet all those wonderful songs will be with us for a long time. Mary will be remembered as part of the music that shaped many of our lives.Read More Add a Comment
Larry Knechtel, whose keyboard arrangement of “Bridge Over Troubled Water” for Simon and Garfunkel won him a Grammy award, passed away last Thursday. I confess a special attachment to that particular piece of music, and I suspect I am not the only one who feels that way. As described in the AP story from KOMO News, Larry was an accomplished musician who provided guitar and keyboard accompaniment for many well-known performers.Read More Add a Comment
Folk musician Mike Seeger, a founding member of the New Lost City Ramblers, passed away on Friday, August 7 at the age of 75. Mike was half-brother to Pete Seeger and brother to Peggy Seeger. He was an essential part of the folk music movement of the mid-twentieth century and spent a good part of his life collecting folk music and making it known to a wider audience. He will be greatly missed.Read More Add a Comment
The man whose dogged persistence led to the formation of the Library of Congress American Folklife Center passed away on Sunday, March 22 at the age of 91. With a heritage of socialist activism and an education in political science, he began as a union activist (in addition to being a shipwright and carpenter) but returned to school later in life to study folklore and eventually to teach at the university level. He began his writings in this area with a 1965 article on hillbilly music, and one of his last projects was the co-editing of the historical union song collection The Big Red Songbook, completed in 2007. Green was awarded the Living Legend medal by the Library of Congress in 2007. In addition to the obituaries referenced above, The Daily Yonder has a personal article that helps to round out the picture of Archie Green’s legacy.Read More Add a Comment