Tony Rice was one of the leading lights of bluegrass music. He died suddenly on Christmas Day at the age of 69.
The 2013 inductee into the International Bluegrass Music Association Hall of Fame has been making beautiful music since the 1970s. We already miss his skill and we will miss his influence for years to come.
Tweeted country artist Charlie Worsham: “Tony Rice could make a Martin flattop guitar sing with more raw power than a than a Les Paul plugged into a Marshall stack. his signature style is embedded deep in the blueprint of my playing and certainly anyone who plays bluegrass guitar today. Yet even if Tony Rice had never played a lick, his voice alone was a singular force, & the songs he sang upped the game for songwriting in bluegrass & beyond. If you aren’t familiar with Tony Rice, please listen to his music. This wouldn’t be a bad place to start,” Worsham continued, posting a Spotify link to the 1979 Tony Rice Unit album “Manzanita.”
Tributes from his bluegrass contemporaries and those influenced by him poured in Saturday as the news got out.
Ricky Skaggs, who played alongside Rice in the group the New South in the 1970s and later joined him for a classic duets album, “Skaggs/Rice,” posted that Rice was “the single most influential acoustic guitar player in the last 50 years.” “Not only was Tony a brilliant guitar player,” Skaggs added, but he was also one of the most stylistic lead vocalists in bluegrass music history.” For the full quote, please visit Mr. Skaggs’s Facebook page.
Chris Thile wrote, “I’m beyond heartbroken to hear about the passing of Tony Rice. No one has had a more profound impact on my musical world. His playing, singing, writing and arranging broke the bluegrass mold and will eternally attest to the fact that music can take you anywhere, from anywhere.”