Aubrey Holt passes

Aubrey Holt, founding member and primary vocalist with The Boys From Indiana, passed away on October 5. He was 79 years of age and had been ill for some time.

A beloved entertainer at bluegrass events, Holt also wrote a number of songs that have become staples in the bluegrass catalog, none more so than his Civil War ballad, Atlanta Is Burning.

Joe Mullins shared this remembrance from his perspective as a close witness to the Boys, and a friend to Aubrey until his passing.

“One of the great singers, songwriters and showman has left us. But he has left us hundreds of songs and thousands of wonderful memories.

My memories of Aubrey Holt go back to the early ’70s when he, his brother Jerry and their uncle Harley Gabbard first started doing shows with my my dad, Paul Mullins. As a popular radio personality and fiddler, dad always had a connection to other regional performers he could assemble when work came his way for a radio promotion, county fair, or local event. Dad had such a love for the Holt and Gabbard families. Their friendship was in place before their professional relationship. They always enjoyed hunting and fishing together as well as making music. On the air, if dad was in charge of promoting bluegrass entertainment at any function, by 1973-74, he would announce that wild bunch of ‘Boys from Indiana’ will be on hand to pick and sing. Along with Dad on fiddle and Noah Crase on banjo, they became an in demand act everywhere within a year or two.

Besides all of this crew being great showmen, the Boys had a phenomenal trio and a songwriter who churned out great original tunes by the dozen – Aubrey Holt. His songs propelled the band and created a connection with legions of fans everywhere.

The first album was titled We Missed You in Church Last Sunday. The second was Atlanta is Burning. These two songs alone are stills favorites at bluegrass gatherings everywhere. Add in dozens of others that are still heard today by our favorite artists and we must be thankful for Aubrey’s great gifts.

The Grascals, Alison Krauss, Blue Highway, Flatt Lonesome, The Radio Ramblers, Feller and Hill and many other bluegrass artists have covered songs written by Aubrey and first recorded by the Boys from Indiana.

In addition to the songwriting, Aubrey was a fine lead and tenor singer. He sang both parts on dozens of BFI recordings and hundreds of shows from the early ’70s until they stopped touring in the mid ’90s. Aubrey’s songwriting and great tenor singing was still featured along side his son Tony Holt with the Wildwood Valley Boys until just a couple of years ago.

Off stage, he was a ton of fun and always quick with a smile or a good story. As a kid hanging around years ago, he always made time for me. He also let me on stage as a kid with the Boys as a guest along with dad, even after dad had left the group in the late ’70s. I also have fantastic memories of filling in on banjo with the Boys several times in the 1990s. Traveling with those guys was unforgettable! So many good laughs and they were all good cooks and big eaters. And I know hundreds remember the BFI hospitality suite at the first several IBMA gatherings.

In later years, Aubrey was still so creative. Besides songs, I have emails saved from the past 15 years or so from Aubrey – his wit and personality came through in every word.

He’s been in our prayers the past few years and now he’s resting in peace. Gone on before and never forgotten by the bluegrass community he loved and who will always love him, his songs and the cherished memories.”

The family will accept visitors tomorrow, October 10, at Hope Baptist Church in Dillsboro, IN from 3:00-7:00 p.m. Funeral services will be held there on the 11th at 10:00 a.m. Burial with military rites will occur afterwards at New Craven Cemetery at Milan, IN.

The family requests that memorials be made in his name to the Aubrey Holt Music Scholarship.

R.I.P., Aubrey Holt.

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About the Author

John Lawless

John had served as primary author and editor for The Bluegrass Blog from its launch in 2006 until being folded into Bluegrass Today in September of 2011. He continues in that capacity here, managing a strong team of columnists and correspondents.