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Tony Rice, famed bluegrass musician and innovative guitarist, dies at 69


Tony Rice, famed bluegrass musician and innovative guitarist, dies at 69

  • Rice passed away at his home in North Carolina on Christmas Day
  •  His death was announced by International Bluegrass Music Association spokesperson Casey Campbell
  • Fellow musician Ricky Skaggs described Rice as ‘the single most influential acoustic guitar player in the last 50 years’
  • He had not performed in pubic since 2013 due to health problems 

Legendary bluegrass musician Tony Rice has died.

The master guitarist renowned for his innovative style passed away at his home in Reidsville, North Carolina, on Christmas Day.

He was 69.

Legendary bluegrass musician Tony Rice has died. The master guitarist passed away at his home in Reidsville, North Carolina, on Christmas Day at the age of 69

Legendary bluegrass musician Tony Rice has died. The master guitarist passed away at his home in Reidsville, North Carolina, on Christmas Day at the age of 69

Rice lived in Reidsville with his wife, Pamela Hodges Rice, and his death was announced by International Bluegrass Music Association spokesperson Casey Campbell.

The bluegrass picker drew fans worldwide with his ability to conjure quick, fluid sounds from his Martin D-28 guitar.  

Fellow musician Ricky Scaggs posted a tribute on Facebook, writing: ‘Sometime during Christmas morning while making his coffee, our dear friend and guitar hero Tony Rice passed from this life and made his swift journey to his heavenly home.’

Skaggs described Rice as‘the single most influential acoustic guitar player in the last 50 years.’

He shared: ‘Many if not all of the Bluegrass guitar players of today would say that they cut their teeth on Tony Rice´s music. He loved hearing the next generation players play his licks. I think that´s where he got most of his joy as a player.’

The bluegrass picker drew fans worldwide with his ability to conjure quick, fluid sounds from his Martin D-28 guitar and fellow musician Ricky Skaggs described Rice as 'the single most influential acoustic guitar player in the last 50 years'

The bluegrass picker drew fans worldwide with his ability to conjure quick, fluid sounds from his Martin D-28 guitar and fellow musician Ricky Skaggs described Rice as ‘the single most influential acoustic guitar player in the last 50 years’

Actor and comedian Steve Martin, a longtime banjo player, retweeted the news as posted on Twitter by banjoist Béla Fleck and added: 'Aw, Tony Rice. A name I've known my whole life. A great musician'

Actor and comedian Steve Martin, a longtime banjo player, retweeted the news as posted on Twitter by banjoist Béla Fleck and added: ‘Aw, Tony Rice. A name I’ve known my whole life. A great musician’

Actor and comedian Steve Martin, a longtime banjo player, retweeted the news as posted on Twitter by banjoist Béla Fleck and added: ‘Aw, Tony Rice. A name I’ve known my whole life. A great musician.’

Rice last performed in public in 2013 when he was inducted into the International Bluegrass Music Hall of Fame.

Health problems had curtailed his ability to sing and play during the past 25 years.

In 2015, he told the Greensboro News & Record: ‘I am not going to go back out into the public eye until I can be the musician that I was, where I left off or better.’

He went on: ‘I have been blessed with a very devout audience all these years, and I am certainly not going to let anybody down.’

Health problems had curtailed his ability to sing and play during the past 25 years. In 2015, he told the Greensboro News & Record: 'I am not going to go back out into the public eye until I can be the musician that I was, where I left off or better' (pictured 1994 with David Grisman)

Health problems had curtailed his ability to sing and play during the past 25 years. In 2015, he told the Greensboro News & Record: ‘I am not going to go back out into the public eye until I can be the musician that I was, where I left off or better’ (pictured 1994 with David Grisman)

Rice was born in Virginia and raised in Los Angeles with a father who passed his passion for bluegrass onto him and his three brothers. 

He embarked on a musical career in his late teens and by 20, he was a member of banjo star J.D. Crowe’s band New South.

Rice released dozens of albums, including several as a member of the David Grisman Quintet.

His releases also included Skaggs & Rice with Ricky Skaggs; Manzanita as leader of The Tony Rice Unit; and such solo efforts as Tony Rice and Me & My Guitar.

He played with everyone from Jerry Garcia to Dolly Parton and received honors including a Grammy in 1993 for best country instrumental performance and citations from the International Bluegrass Music Association as guitarist of the year.

Rice released dozens of albums, played with everyone from Jerry Garcia to Dolly Parton and received honors including a Grammy in 1993 for best country instrumental performance and citations from the International Bluegrass Music Association as guitarist of the year

Rice released dozens of albums, played with everyone from Jerry Garcia to Dolly Parton and received honors including a Grammy in 1993 for best country instrumental performance and citations from the International Bluegrass Music Association as guitarist of the year





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