Tony Rice, arguably the most influential guitarist and singer in bluegrass music history, died on Christmas morning. He was 69 years old and died quickly and without pain

Tony forever changed the way bluegrass guitar was played, both as a lead and backing instrument, but audiences saw references to his genius during his time with Bluegrass Alliance in the early 1970s, but it did appeared to be fully formed with JD Crowe & The New South 1975 about their classic recording for Rounder Records, known colloquially under catalog number oo44

Those of us lucky enough to be alive at this time will vividly remember the first time we heard it. By the end of the banjo intro to Old Home Place, it was clear that something new and Other Going On Rice’s guitar filled the track top-to-bottom and side-to-side with an aggressive rhythm style that matched the power of Jimmy Martin and Del McCoury with the skill and grace of Clarence White, and it drove the band on like nothing we’d heard before

And then he started singing! His deep baritone voice crackled with soul, turning this Dillards song into bluegrass majesty. During his multi-year career, Tony Rice’s voice has become a favorite in and around bluegrass, a rare treat combined with someone with such a unique instrumental ability

He showed these skills at Old Home Place too, pausing for a blistering pause towards the end of the song where flatpickers scratched their heads in amazement.There was more to the entire recording and to the many others that have gone through a career that lasted 40 years until arthritis robbed him of the ability to play well, just as a nervous system had robbed him of his voice a decade ago

While he’s not the first or only musician to play lead guitar in bluegrass, Rice’s contribution can well be compared to that of Earl Scruggs, whose banjo-picking revolutionized music when he joined Bill Monroe in 1945. Everyone’s favorite today Guitarists expected in bluegrass solos, and there is no living bluegrass guitarist who would not claim Tony as the primary influence

Shortly after attending 0044, Tony left Crowe’s band and moved to California to become part of David Grisman’s then experimental new sound, mixing gypsy jazz with elements of bluegrass, and rice was an equally important part in creating this new style like Scruggs in defining Monroes thirty years ago after leaving Grisman, Tony released a number of critically acclaimed albums with his own Tony Rice Unit that mimicked many parts of Grisman’s “Dawg music” but a different, muted one and had a jazz-oriented atmosphere

He also appeared on landmark projects like Skagg’s & Rice in 1980, still among the best-selling bluegrass records of all time, his own solo project Church Street Blues in 1983, and what many consider to be his most valued and valued final work, Manzanita , in 1979 not to mention the series of albums under the title The Bluegrass Album Band, along with other legends such as Doyle Lawson, JD. Crowe, Bobby Hicks and Todd Phillips for setting in stone what contemporary bluegrass style was all about in the 1980s

It would be difficult to overestimate the importance of Tony Rice in bluegrass and acoustic string music Suffice it to say that without his participation it would sound very different than it does today. As a monumental figure in music, we won’t be him for some time see

John was the lead author and editor of the Bluegrass blog from its inception in 2006 to its inclusion in Bluegrass Today in September 2011. He continues to serve here and leads a strong team of columnists and correspondents

Probably no other bluegrass musician has been involved in so many truly groundbreaking recordings as Tony Everyone Who Is

Hello Sonny! I saw you play a Stelling Banjo on video a few times. Was that the one Geoff lent you or was it yours I know

Tony Rice

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