Audie Blaylock passes

Audie Blaylock, life long bluegrass singer and bandleader, passed away unexpectedly earlier this week at his home in Auburn, IN. He was 61 years of age.

His family reports that he was experiencing some health problems of late, and died from complications of these existing issues. An intensely private person for someone with a public personna, no further details were offered.

Known in recent years as lead singer and guitarist with his own band, Redline, Blaylock dedicated most of his adult life to bluegrass. Born in El Paso, TX, Audie grew up in Lansing, MI, where he was playing guitar and mandolin in regional bands while still in school.

His big break came in 1982 when he was offered the mandolin gig with Jimmy Martin, and he spent the next nine years as a Sunny Mountain Boy. From there he played some with Red Allen, and a good bit with Harley Allen, based in Nashville. When Red died in 1993 he took a job with The Lynn Morris Band. For a brief while he played with Chris Jones & The Night Drivers.

Then from 1999 until 2003 he played guitar and sang with Rhonda Vincent & The Rage. After that stint, Audie launched his solo career, sidetracked briefly in 2006-07 when he joined up with Michael Cleveland and Flamekeeper featuring Audie Blaylock.

Following his time with Michael, Blaylock reactivated Redline, which has continued to this point with a number of popular recordings by the band.

One of his crowning achievements was as coordinator of the album, A Tribute to Jimmy Martin: The King of Bluegrass, on which Audie covered a collection of Martin classics with some of the top musicians of the day in 2004. It was truly an all-star effort, with Sonny Osborne voicing an introductory tribute to The King, J.D. Crowe and Kenny Ingram playing banjo, Ben Isaacs and Jason Moore on bass, Michael Cleveland on fiddle, and Jesse Brock on mandolin. Harmony vocals were provided by Paul Williams, Sonya Isaacs, and Ben Isaacs. Blaylock played guitar.

The album was nominated for Grammy award, and Audie was justly proud of having been able to re-present the music of his hero and mentor for a modern audience.

Playing the Opry with Rhonda Vincent and sharing the stage with Andy Griffith was another career highlight, as Griffith was another hero to Audie.

Reed Jones, bassist with Redline, the band’s primary songwriter, and a dear friend of Audie’s, shared that…

“Audie was a very passionate person, and once you were his friend, you were in for good. Extremely loyal. Over the course of the past 13 years, Audie became like a brother to me. Traveling together, you form a very special bond. Most bands tend to have a revolving door with personnel, but Redline has had a core that stayed. Audie called it a brotherhood.”

In addition to his love for bluegrass music, which he always demanded be played with passion and precision, Blaylock also had a deep fondness and appreciation for vintage American automobiles.

Reed again…

“His fiery intensity will be missed in the bluegrass community.”

His family are putting together plans for funeral services now, and should announce those details soon.

R.I.P., Audie Blaylock.

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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.