Charlie Derrington, long time employee of the Gibson company and a noted luthier, was killed last night while riding his motorcycle in west Nashville. He was struck by a suspected drunk driver who was traveling against traffic on Briley Parkway, driving in the wrong direction. The suspect fled the scene, but was apprehended shortly thereafter and is in police custody.
Charlie was a friend to a great many people in bluegrass music, and will be remembered as much for his warmth, good humor and love of life as for his many contributions to the world of bluegrass instruments. Though he became known mostly as a builder and the director of the mandolin shop at Gibson, he was also a mandolin player and tenor singer who loved bluegrass music and the people who created it.
He first made waves in the mandolin world when he successfully restored Bill Monroe’s Loar F5 after it was badly damaged in a deliberate act of vandalism. The mandolin was in pieces after being smashed with a fireplace poker, and Charlie was able to separate the fragments of wood from two damaged mandolins, and restore them both to playing condition.
He is survived by his wife and daughter, and we join Charlie’s many friends and admirers in extending our great sadness and condolences to the Derrington family.
This is a tragic and senseless loss to both our music, and the music community who loved Charlie so well.