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The Bluegrass Place

Bluegrass Banjo Players
       This page is still under construction. If you have any bluegrass anecdotes, photographs, or other items of interest you'd like to share, please email us.


Earl Scruggs: The first bluegrass banjo player; first came to prominence with Bill Monroe's Blue Grass Boys (1946 - 1949); achieved even greater fame with (partner Lester Flatt and their) Foggy Mountain Boys (1949 - 1967). Most work since mid-60s less bluegrass, more attempted-commercial; direction since early 60s dominated by Louise Scruggs. Widely mourned, Earl died in late March 2012. Good biographies of Earl at this site and this one.

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Sonny Osborne: with Blue Grass Boys as a teenager in 1952; considered by many the best at backing up vocals on banjo; has mainly worked with brother Bobby in the Osborne Brothers. Since undergoing surgery on his shoulder, Sonny seems to have stopped playing the banjo or at least stopped performing.

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Joe Stuart: played banjo (or guitar or bass) off and on with the Blue Grass Boys over two or three decades; the only person to have played every one of the five basic bluegrass instruments in the Blue Grass Boys.

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Don Stover: with Monroe's Blue Grass Boys in 1957; best known for long-time work with Lilly Brothers (sometimes with no Lilly brothers in the group) 1958 - 1970; probably the best banjo player in bluegrass through the 1960s and early 70s;


Don Reno: a highly skilled, innovative, rather experimental banjo player; with Monroe's Blue Grass Boys in 1948 but never recorded with them; best known for work with long-time partner Red Smiley; swapped banjos with Earl Scruggs in the '40s.

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J. D. Crowe: one of the best, a solid banjo player with terrific drive; came to prominence working with Jimmy Martin's Sunny Mountain Boys; some excellent work with Red Allen and later with Tony Rice and Doyle Lawson.

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Ralph Stanley: traditional style with a distinctly old-time sound; best known for work with brother Carter in the Stanley Brothers.

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Allen Shelton: a distinctive and inventive yet solidly traditional-sounding banjo player; known for his superb work over several years with Jim and Jesse.

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Bill "Brad" Keith: came to prominence as a member of Bill Monroe's Blue Grass Boys (William Bradford Keith was called "Brad" by many bluegrassers, because there was only one "Bill" in the Blue Grass Boys); known as the inventor of the "chromatic" or melodic style.

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Ben Eldridge: highly skilled and tasteful banjo player (also a good guitar player); best known for long-time work with Seldom Scene.

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Don Lineberger: with Monroe's Blue Grass Boys in 1965 but never recorded with them; notable as a rare left-handed banjo player.

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Winnie Winston: good, solid bluegrass on his ball bearing Mastertone; one of the best of the urban pickers; first known as a member of the New York City Ramblers; played banjo with the Blue Grass boys 1964; emigrated to New Zealand and lived there until his death in 2005.

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Bill Emerson: considered by many the world's smoothest banjo player; first came to prominence as a member of Jimmy Martin's Sunny Mountain Boys; also erstwhile member of the Country Gentlemen; some excellent work with Doyle Lawson; joined the US Navy and worked for a couple of decades in the Navy band Country Current.

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John Hickman: good, solid, hard-driving banjo; later joined Dan Crary and Byron Berline in a dynamite instrumentalist group.

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Alan Munde: excellent picker, proficient in both straight-ahead Scruggs- and melodic styles; heavily influenced by Texas picker Ed (not Allen) Shelton; probably best known for work with Country Gazette.

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Jack Hicks: member of Monroe's Blue Grass Boys 1972.

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Bobby Thompson: Nashville studio rhythm guitar player (player of choice for most Nashville sessions); played banjo with Jim and Jesse; later with Monroe's Blue Grass Boys 1970-72.

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Walter Hensley: said by many to be the world's fastest banjo player; good, solid bluegrass.

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Doug Dillard: very fast, clean picking; best known for work with his brother Rodney and Mitch Jayne in The Dillards.

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Danny Marcus: good, solid bluegrass; one of the best of the urban pickers; worked in the early '70s with Bob Jones in the Blue Ridge Mountain Boys, later with Boston-based Northern Lights.

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Abe Brown: a superb guitarist in the Merle Travis style, who took up bluegrass banjo later; formed Canyon Grass in the early '70s.

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Don Parmley: good, driving [no pun intended, although he did use to work as a Greyhound bus driver] bluegrass banjo; early involvement with California-based groups (e.g. Golden State Boys); formed Bluegrass Cardinals with son David and Randy

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Kenny Brown; good, solid bluegrass; one of the best of the urban pickers in the early '60s; stopped performing bluegrass and worked as roadie for Paul Butterfield blues band.

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Bob Black: capable of good, solid bluegrass, but more inclined toward melodic style; member of Bill Monroe's Blue Grass Boys in mid-70s.

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Lee Spector: innovative, experimental banjo player; as much influenced by Errol Garner as Earl Scruggs; worked in various bands with Bob Jones in the '60s; one of the few bluegrass pickers to perform regularly on a Paramount banjo.

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Geoff Stelling: good, solid bluegrass picker; formed Native Sons of the Golden West in the '70s; best known for inventing and manufacturing the superb Stelling banjos.

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Vic Jordan: good, solid bluegrass; member of Bll Monroe's Blue Grass Boys (1967-68); also worked with Jim and Jesse.

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       This page is still under construction. If you have any bluegrass anecdotes, photographs, or other items of interest you'd like to share, please email us.
             


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