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.
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...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."