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J.D. Crowe, Master Of The Bluegrass Banjo, Dies At 84



Influential Bluegrass musician J.D. Crowe died early Friday morning, his family announced on social media.


According to the Bluegrass Music Hall of Fame and Museum, his path was set in 1949 when, at the age of 12, he heard Lester Flatt, Earl Scruggs and the Foggy Mountain Boys play at a barn dance in Lexington.


Crowe was born in Lexington, Kentucky. His first job playing music was given to him by Raymond "Curly" Parker when he was only a teenager.


He began playing the banjo early on and was offered a job with Jimmy Martin's Sunny Mountain Boys in 1954. He recorded with Jimmy Martin between 1956 and 1960. In 1961, Crowe formed the Kentucky Mountain Boys, principally performing in the Lexington region.


In 1971, Crowe changed the band's name to The New South and included material from rock and country music sources. Crowe's New South band is widely considered one of the most influential bluegrass groups since the 1970s.


Kentucky Educational Television in 2008 aired a biography of James Dee Crowe, A Kentucky Treasure: The James Dee Crowe Story, produced by H. Russell Farmer.


Crowe received the Bluegrass Star Award, presented by the Bluegrass Heritage Foundation of Dallas, Texas, on October 15, 2011. The award is bestowed upon bluegrass artists who do an exemplary job of advancing traditional bluegrass music and bringing it to new audiences while preserving its character and heritage.


He died on December 24, 2021, at the age of 84