Bea Lilly, 1921-2005

We are sorry to report that Bea Lilly, member of The Lily Brothers & Don Stover and a true pioneer in bluegrass music, passed away September 18, 2005 at the Duxbury House Alzheimer Care Center near Plymouth, MA.

Mitchell Burt Lilly, who came to be known as Bea, was born in Clear Creek, WV, as was his brother Everett, his partner in The Lilly Brothers. Bea played guitar and Everett mandolin, and the popularity of the style that came to be known as “brother duets” helped propel them to some early success through their regular broadcasts on the powerful WWVA radio station in Wheeling during the ’40s.

In the 1950s, the Lillys joined forces with fiddler Tex Logan and banjo picker Don Stover to form The Lilly Brothers & Don Stover, who were inducted into the IBMA Hall Of Honor in 2002. Logan and Stover both hailed from northeastern US, and the band eventually settled there in 1952. They are credited by many New England bluegrass pickers as having made a major contribution to the establishment and growth of bluegrass in that part of the US. Their performances at The Hillbilly Ranch in Boston are fondly recalled by a great many Boston bluegrassers, and brought the music to the attention of large numbers of people who might not have discovered it otherwise.

Everett returned to WV in 1970 after the tragic death of his son, Jiles, in an auto accident. Bea moved to WV as well for a short time, only to return to Boston where he remained. The band would reassemble sporadically for shows until Don Stover’s death in 1996.

Bea’s funeral will be held on Thursday, September 22, and his passing will be mourned by bluegrass fans and musicians in the northeast, and everywhere that the pioneers of our music are fondly remembered.

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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.