Buddy Spicher To Be Saluted

Buddy SpicherThe Country Music Hall of Fame¬Æ and Museum’s successful quarterly program series ‘Nashville Cats: A Celebration of Music City Session Players’ returns on Saturday, August 23, with a salute to legendary fiddler Buddy Spicher.

The interactive program, hosted by Stringed Instrument Curator Bill Lloyd, will be held in the Museum’s Ford Theater, starting at 1:30pm. The attendance cost is included with the Museum admission fee and it is free to Museum members.

The program will include a brief performance and an in-depth, one-on-one interview highlighted by vintage recordings, photos and film clips from the Museum’s Frist Library and Archive. Immediately following the program, Spicher will sign autographs in the Museum Store.

Norman Keith Spicher was born on a farm outside of Dubois, Pennsylvania, on July 28, 1938. he began playing fiddle at 13 years of age. Soon Spicher was playing in bands and, by the early 1950s he had earned a spot on the WWVA Jamboree in Wheeling, West Virginia.

He moved to Nashville in 1957 after Hank Williams’ widow, Audrey Williams, heard him on WWVA.

As well as working with a host of country music legends such as Patsy Cline, Ray Price, Hank Snow, Kitty Wells, Faron Young and childhood hero Hank Snow, Spicher spent much of the early part of the 1960s working with Bill Monroe.

While with Monroe and as the premier Nashville studio fiddler, he recorded more than 30 sessions, featuring on Decca/MCA recordings such as Little Maggie, I’m Going Back To Old Kentucky, Toy Heart, Journey’s End, Louisville Breakdown, Just Over In Gloryland, The Long Black Veil, Log Cabin In The Lane, Jenny Lynn, Milenburg Joy, Christmas Time’s A-Coming, She’s Young (And I’m Growing Old) and That’s Christmas Time To Me.

Spicher is the second fiddler on the session for a long-unreleased collection of recordings at Cathedral Caverns, near Huntsville, Alabama. [July 4, 1982. See Bear Family box set BCD 16637.]

His last recordings for Monroe are found on the Bill Monroe And Friends LP (recorded at various sessions during the latter part of 1982 and the early months of the following year).

Other bluegrass records on which Spicher can be found include Tom T Hall’s The Magnificent Music Machine (Mercury SRM-1-111; re-issued on a Copper Creek CD, CCRS-7007) and the James Monroe 1999 release for Raintree Records, Bluegrass Special Memories (RR599D), recorded in March 1978.

Harmony fiddle is Spicher’s speciality (often alongside Chubby Wise or Johnny Gimble), as is his “double stop” fiddle style, which, by double noting, often sounded like two harmonizing fiddles. Very good examples of more of his harmony work can be found on Runaway Fiddle (OMS 25170), on which Spicher is paired with another great fiddler of the past 50 years, the late Vassar Clements. [NB The performances on this CD are all in the western swing style.]

Spicher has also issued highly regarded recordings of his own, including Front Porch Fiddle; a set of 14 old time fiddle favorites.

Buddy Spicher currently owns and operates a recording studio, the Fiddle House, in East Nashville and appears live with the Nashville Swing Band. Spicher has worked on numerous projects throughout the years as both a producer and a recording artist. His newest album, Air Mail Special, is a collaboration with renowned Canadian fiddler Calvin Vollrath and other super pickers.

Spicher also teaches at several annual fiddle camps including the Mark O’Connor Fiddle Camp and the Montana Fiddle Camp.

Here’s Buddy from a television appearance in the late 1960s.


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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.