Alex DePue, the fiddling sensation of The DePue Brothers, died this past Thursday, January 27, as a result of a car accident while he was in Mexico. He was 49 years of age.
Alex, and his brothers, performed an interesting mix of classical, bluegrass, and rock, which they dubbed “grassical music.” Raised in Ohio, where their father was a music professor at Bowling Green State University, the boys all studied classical music in their youth, and have found careers in the business as violinists. But when they get together as The DePue Brothers (Wallace, Jason, Alex, and Zach), they put on a raucous, rollicking show full of high energy music, with much of that dynamism coming from Alex.
As a child, he was quickly recognized as a prodigy, winning competitions starting at age 10. Four years later he was recognized in a national contest that found him serving as concertmaster under conductor Joseph Silverstein at Carnegie Hall. But at the same time, Alex was pursuing a private study of fiddle music, which led to him being crowned Michigan State Fiddling Champion four years running in the 1990s, as well as at other fiddle conventions and contests around the country.
His natural showmanship and knack for performing also attracted the attention of rock guitar hero Steve Vai, who hired Alex into his band based on a video DePue had posted of himself playing an extended version of Owner of a Lonely Heart, a hit for British prog-rockers Yes in 1983. Alex toured with Vai for three years (2007-2010) all over the world, and was featured in the 2009 concert DVD, Steve Vai: Where the Wild Things Are.
As a solo artist, Alex recorded many times with popular bluegrass artists, and The DePue Brothers regularly hired a banjo player for their annual Christmas tours, and for other concerts as well. Here is their arrangement of Orange Blossom Special with Mike Munford on banjo.
Here is a version of Merle Haggard’s Working Man Blues, featuring Rhonda Vincent.
While his solo act was largely geared towards rock-oriented music, Alex never forget his love for traditional fiddle music. Here he is performing Durangs Hornpipe and Beaumont Rag.
In addition to his three brothers and extended family, Alex leaves a legion of devoted friends and fans from all across the musical spectrum who enjoyed his highly technical and virtuosic playing. He had been married just last year. One can only imagine what he might have accomplished over a normal life span.
R.I.P., Alex DePue.