Death of bluegrass pioneer, 69

Death of bluegrass pioneer, 69


norman lebrecht

December 27, 2020

Tony Rice, said to be ‘the single most influential acoustic guitar player in the last 50 years’, died on Christmas Day.

Mark O’Connor writes: ‘we lost a giant of the guitar on Christmas’.



  • Amos says:

    Sorry to learn of his passing but I think most acoustic guitar aficionados would argue that if anyone was the “most influential” it would be Doc Watson and his son Merle.

    • john says:

      Doc and Merle, as lovely as their music is and was, did not play Bluegrass. I knew Doc, and even he would tell you that he didn’t play Bluegrass.
      Tony Rice took Bluegrass guitar to places that it has not been before while still keeping the core of what makes Bluegrass Bluegrass. Although he had not been able to play in public for some years due to neurological and physical maladies, his influence endures. At his best, there was no one better. On a bad day, he was still better than nearly everyone else, and what he brought was not just technique, but a vocal style and an approach to playing, both rythym and melody, that was his alone, although paying homage to the past.

    • Donald Petrarca says:

      I agree……….if Tony was still with us, I’m sure He would agree too. Doc Watson changed the way the guitar was looked at. I think it’s fair to say they’ll never be another two like Them.

    • Ted Harwood says:

      How about Clarence White?

      • Catlover says:

        FWIW: 58957 – Tony’s iconic Martin D-28 was previously owned by Clarence White. The two gentlemen are intertwined.

        One might almost say the same thing about Tony’s brother for virtuosity: How about Wyatt?

        Nonetheless, Tony was amazing, inspiring and well worthy of remembrance.

  • John says:

    from the internet:
    “Tony Rice is one of bluegrass’ most inventive flatpicking guitar players. Although he’s displayed a mastery of the genre’s traditions, Rice set the standard for more contemporary styles. A former member of the Bluegrass Alliance, the David Grisman Quintet, J.D. Crowe’s New South, and the Bluegrass Album Band, Rice has continued to reflect his eclectic approach on solo recordings, two albums with flatpicking guitar ace Norman Blake, and two albums, recorded with his brothers Larry, Ron, and Wyatt, as the Rice Brothers. In 1996, Rice joined with Chris Hillman, Herb Pedersen, and his brother Larry to record a tradition-rooted album, Out of the Woodwork.”

  • Greg Bottini says:

    Tony Rice was an amazing, totally great guitarist.
    An eon ago, I went to hear David Grisman’s group play in San Francisco (I think at one of the Fillmores) and Tony was in the group. He looked very modest and self-effacing – until he cut loose. What a powerhouse! For me, he kind of owned the evening.
    As to some the other comments on this page, IMO, comparing Tony to the great Doc Watson is like comparing oranges to zeppelins.
    I love ’em both!

  • Greg Bottini says:

    “I love ’em both!”
    Of course I’m referring to Tony and Doc, not oranges or zeppelins.
    Although I don’t have any particular problem with oranges or zeppelins.
    Just sayin’.