Bob French, former banjo player with Joe Val and The New England Bluegrass Boys and partner with his wife as Bob & Grace French and The Rainbow Valley Folks, has passed away. He was 86 years of age.
Bob and Grace started their life in music playing country, until Bob discovered the artistry of Earl Scruggs which changed him from a guitar to a banjo player. As a bluegrass duo, the Frenchs were staples in the Boston bluegrass scene in the 1960s.
They became acquainted with many of the top touring acts in our business starting in the ’50s by offering them a place to stay when touring in the northeast.
All his life Bob was known as a serious devotee of traditional bluegrass, a solid Scruggs-style banjoist, and talented high tenor vocalist. He appears on two albums with Joe Val in the early 1970s, One Morning In May and Joe Val and The New England Bluegrass Boys.
Born Robert G. French, Bob will be remembered fondly by his large family and many friends, and the host of artists new to bluegrass Bob mentored and assisted over his life, not to mention the thousands of fans who enjoyed their music at festivals across the northeastern US.
Here’s a video of Bob & Grace from 1987.
R.I.P., Bob French.