Vassar Clements Dies at 77


macrumors 68040
Original poster
Apr 24, 2003
Sadly one of the great bluegrass fiddlers of all time has fiddled his last here on earth. The devil better watch out, cause this guy would straight out-fiddle him given the chance.

Acclaimed fiddle virtuoso Vassar Clements, dubbed the "Miles Davis of bluegrass," died Tuesday near Nashville following a battle with lung cancer. He was 77.

Clements performed with a variety of artists including the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, Faron Young, Dicky Betts, the Grateful Dead, the Allman Brothers, Linda Ronstadt, David Grisman and Paul McCartney.

He recorded 27 albums exploring country, swing and developing. His only bluegrass album was 1992's "Grass Routes" (Rounder Records). In addition to fiddle, he also played viola, cello, bass, mandolin, guitar and tenor banjo.

Clements began performing with Bill Monroe's Bluegrass Boys when he was 14 and became a regular member of the legendary group in 1949. In 1956, he started a four-year stint with Jim & Jesse McReynolds and later performed with Earl Scruggs.

"Vassar Clements was a special artist and notable among the early pioneers as well as his remarkable work in recent years," says Dan Hays, president of the International Bluegrass Music Association.

Clements' work on the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band's groundbreaking 1972 multi-artist album "Will the Circle Be Unbroken" was a milestone in a career that spanned more than five decades.

"He was the nicest guy. He treated everybody like you were either family or friend," the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band's John McEuen told Billboard. "He was the greatest fiddle player in the world, but you never knew it if you talked to him. He did it all and he influenced with (the "Circle") album the next 30 years of fiddle playing. Ask Mark O'Connor, Stuart Duncan, any of them."
Definitely one of those people I wish I'd gotten a chance to see live. I have several albums with Vassar on them, but sadly I never saw him perform. Buy could he make those fiddle strings burn though...


macrumors 68040
May 27, 2003
Asheville, NC
That sucks. He was an inspiration to a lot of the people I listen to today.

I'll have to throw on my copy of 'Old and In The Way' tonight.


macrumors P6
Oct 20, 2002
Since he played Blue Grass, I'm sure that Don Imus knows him. Very sorry for your loss of him also. My prayers go out to his family and friends. May he rest in peace. :(


macrumors 6502
Feb 8, 2003
Summers fade, and roses die.

Can't wait to listen to him and Jerry jamin' psychedelic country music, when go to where they are. I wonder if god trades tapes? <-- insert deity of choice here. I have several Old and in the way concerts, I would be more than happy to spin a copy for anyone who would like to honor this great musician, by listning to what he did best in life, playin' live concerts. Just shoot me a pm or email.

PS, I make this offer knowing that no one will take me up on it, you guys never do. But I offer it anyway, because to me, music is a gift from above, ment to be shaired freely. And giving music makes me happy. :)


Moderator emeritus
Oct 21, 2003
Portland, OR
Lately my interest in bluegrass has been seriously waxing and I just discovered Vassar, I'm very sorry to hear about his passing. :(
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