C.J. Lewandowski remembers Bobby Osborne in a special way

Grief and memorials are deeply personal matters, and we all express them in different ways. But the way that C.J. Lewandowski, founder, mandolinist, and vocalist with The Po’ Ramblin’ Boys, chose last month to remember his friend and musical idol, Bobby Osborne, was of a very special kind.

When we lost Bobby just over a year ago, all of bluegrass wept along with his family and friends, including Lewandowski, who as a close friend of Osborne, was by his side. The mentorship and the loving companionship he had received from Bobby during the last few years of his life had meant the world to C.J., and his passing struck him quite hard.

So as the anniversary of his death was approaching this year, the idea came to him to have Bobby’s signature tattooed onto his arm on that date. Now, C.J. is already heavily tattooed, but there was a perfect space along the back of his right forearm for a salutation and Osborne’s name from a note that he sent Lewandowski before he passed.

“He gave me the strap that’s on the Bluegrass Express album cover, and this was on a letter he included with it.”

After Bobby’s death, C.J. decided that the strap belonged in the Bluegrass Music Hall of Fame & Museum, where it is now displayed.

The Hall of Fame also figured prominently in C.J.’s tattoo idea coming to fruition. As it happened, June 27, the anniversary of Osborne’s passing, would find The Po’ Ramblin’ Boys scheduled to perform at the ROMP festival in Owensboro, KY, so it appeared that getting Bobby’s signature on his arm that day wasn’t to be this year.

But the Museum arranged for artist Mike White of Hooded Crow Tattoos in Owensboro to be on site at the festival grounds, and cleared the hurdles with the local health department for C.J. to receive the tattoo between sets at ROMP. He especially offered his appreciation to Carly Smith at the HoF, with the help of Director Chris Joslin.

Here’s how it went…

What a great idea, and an ideal memory C.J. will have close at hand, or should we say, just above his elbow!

Today is also a big day for Lewandowski’s F-5 mandolin, which he calls Zeus, that was completed and signed on this day 101 years ago, as was Bill Monroe’s.

Happy Birthday Zeus!

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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.