Arnold Terry passes 

Arnold Terry, and with The Flint Hill Playboys on guitar (circa 1953)

Arnold Terry, who played with Jim Eanes over the years and with Bill Monroe in the mid-1950s, passed away at his home in Collinsville, Virginia, on Sunday, July 17, 2022. He was 89 years old.

Esmond Arnold Terry was born in Meadows of Dan, in Patrick County, Virginia, on June 22, 1933. Described by Pee Wee Davis as “a fine singer and guitar player,” he sang all four parts and played and bass also. 

In the early 1950s Terry joined Pee Wee Davis, his brother Hubert; Bill Bedsoe; and Benny Jarrell in a band that they called The Flint Hill Playboys. They played regularly on Radio WBBB, based in Burlington, North Carolina, got many show dates in schools and theaters around there, and worked a lot in Mt Airy and up in Martinsville, Virginia. 

They were heard on Radio WBTM, Danville, Virginia, also. 

Perhaps it was here that Bobby Hicks heard Terry, prompting a recommendation to Bill Monroe when he found himself without a guitarist. Accordingly, in December 1955 he joined Hicks as a colleague in the Blue Grass Boys. 

After a satisfying audition on the Grand Ole Opry, Terry had a very hectic time that winter as Monroe worked dates on the West Coast, performing in Phoenix AR, Salinas, Modesto, and Oakland CA, Medford OO, Washington state, Amarillo, TX, Arizona, and New Mexico, then back to Texas for three more performances. Sandwiched in there were two appearances on the show Town Hall Party (on Los Angeles TV station KTTV) and the tour ended with an appearance on the Big D Jamboree radio show in Dallas.  

He stayed with the Blue Grass Boys for just three months but never did any recordings with Monroe.  

Subsequently, Terry became a member of Jim Eanes’ Shenandoah Valley Boys and took part in several sessions for Starday Records during the next six or seven years. 

Some of those sessions with Eanes featured banjo ace Allen Shelton, fiddler Roy Russell and singer Lonnie Irving. Terry ban be heard on many singles released by these artists, including, Pinball Machine, Irving’s only recognizable hit. 

(Lonnie Irving 45-827)

Eanes and his band could be heard over the airwaves from radio stations WPTF in Raleigh, North Carolina, WHEE in Martinsville, Virginia, and WHYE in Roanoke, Virginia, during this time. 

Terry sings lead on Long Journey Home (Blue Ridge 510), recorded at the Rodel Studio in Washington, DC during the Summer of 1958. 

Arnold Terry – Mark Of Cain 

He served in the United States Army during the Korean War. 

After quitting the music business, he became a preacher, ministering the Gospel in the Collinsville community for over 56 years. 

R.I.P., Arnold Terry.

Visitation will be held from 6:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. on Wednesday, July 20, 2022, at Norris Funeral Services in Martinsville, VA.

The funeral service will be held at 11:00 a.m. on Thursday, July 21, 2022, at First Baptist Church of Collinsville with Pastors Eugene Chitwood, Peyton Gilbert and Larry Cheek officiating. Burial will follow the service at Henry Memorial Park.

A Discography 

Arnold Terry

  • Mark Of Cain / Who Am I (Liberty Tone Records – 45-109)
  • If I Could Put My Thoughts On Paper / I’ll Always Come Back To You (Mart 45 111) Release dates unknown.

Jim Eanes

  • The Original Shenandoah Valley Quartet (Outlet CS-400, released 1977)
  • Jim Eanes And The Shennandoah Valley Boys: Early Days Of Bluegrass, Vol.4. (Rounder 1016, 1978)

Allen Shelton

  • Mr. Original Banjo Man (Outlet STLP 401, 1977) [These are WHEE transcriptions recorded in 1959]

Roy Russell 

  • Roy Russell Fiddlin’ Time (Outlet STLP-402 released 1978.  

We are grateful to Gary B Reid for providing some information used in this obituary. 

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About the Author

Richard Thompson

Richard F. Thompson is a long-standing free-lance writer specialising in bluegrass music topics. A two-time Editor of British Bluegrass News, he has been seriously interested in bluegrass music since about 1970. As well as contributing to that magazine, he has, in the past 30 plus years, had articles published by Country Music World, International Country Music News, Country Music People, Bluegrass Unlimited, MoonShiner (the Japanese bluegrass music journal) and Bluegrass Europe. He wrote the annotated series I'm On My Way Back To Old Kentucky, a daily memorial to Bill Monroe that culminated with an acknowledgement of what would have been his 100th birthday, on September 13, 2011.