Legendary Lexington bluegrass musician JD Crowe dies


Bluegrass legend JD Crowe pictured on Thursday December 6, 2012 in Nicholasville, Ky.  File photo by Mark Cornelison

Bluegrass legend JD Crowe pictured on Thursday December 6, 2012 in Nicholasville, Ky. File photo by Mark Cornelison


Lexington-born bluegrass music legend JD Crowe has passed away.

Crowe died early December 24 at the age of 84, according to Kentucky Country Music Facebook Page. His son confirmed Crowe’s death, according to the post. He was revered for his skilled banjo playing and innovation in Bluegrass music, with a career that spanned over 50 years.

According to a Bluegrass Today report, Crowe was hospitalized in November and was recovering in a rehabilitation center.

Born James Dee Crowe in 1937, he began his bluegrass career in the 1950s, playing with Jimmy Martin’s Sunny Mountain Boys. He later formed the Kentucky Mountain Boys, which became The New South in 1971.

Throughout his career he has performed with Bluegrass musicians including Jimmy Martin, Doyle Lawson and Keith Whitley. The New South included members Tony Rice and Ricky Skaggs.

Crowe won a Grammy in 1983 for his song “Fireball” in the Country Instrumental of the Year category. He also received the Bluegrass Star Award in 2011. He officially retired from touring in 2012, but continued to attend and perform at concerts and festivals, according to Herald-Leader records.

He received an honorary doctorate from the University of Kentucky in 2012 and a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Lexington Music Awards in 2016. In Kentucky, the JD Crowe Bluegrass Festival is held in Wilmore.

April 9, 2006- Bluegrass musician JD Crowe stands in a field outside Wilmore, Ky on a Sunday afternoon. Matt Barton Lexington Herald-Leader

In 2009, Crowe told the Herald-Leader that the festival was as much about celebrating Jessamine County as it was about its own music.

“It’s still what we’ve been trying to capture,” Crowe said. “A lot of festivals, as you know, are strictly music related. And it’s good. We work a lot of events like this, and people always have a good time. But this one is more community and family oriented than some of the other festivals.

Social media had a surge of love and tributes for Crowe on Friday morning.

The Blue Highway group’s Facebook page posted a tribute to Crowe, calling him “one of our heroes and our greatest influences”.

“No one has ever had the groove, touch, tone and timing of this man. Prayers for his family and for the entire Bluegrass community. This one really hurts,” the post said.

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Banjo icon JD Crowe accepted his Lifetime Achievement Award at the second Lexington Music Awards in 2016. Rich Copley

“A better banjo player will be hard to find here, but I know Heaven welcomes this good and faithful servant with open arms today,” said Bluegrass singer-songwriter. Donna Ulisse posted. “I got to know him a bit and what a great gentleman he was.”

Musician Billy Strings called Crowe “just the best bluegrass banjo player out there.”

“He was an absolute legend. He will be remembered as one of the greatest to ever play bluegrass music. He had a tone, taste and TIMING like no other,” he said. job.

Banjo legend JD Crowe at the Festival of the Bluegrass in 2013. Lexington Herald-Leader

This story was originally published 24 December 2021 11:33 a.m.

Monica Kast covers higher education for the Herald-Leader and Kentucky.com. Previously, she covered higher education in Tennessee for the Knoxville News Sentinel. She is originally from Louisville, Kentucky.
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