Cleo Lemons, an early promoter of bluegrass music in north/central North Carolina, died on Saturday, March 5. He was 94 years old and had suffered a major stroke just a week prior.
Lemons was among the first promoters to book Lester Flatt & Earl Scruggs. He had contacted them as soon as he learned that the pair had formed their own group after leaving Bill Monroe, bringing them in to perform at the Sandy Ridge High School in Stokes County, NC in 1948.
The show did so well that it was repeated for the next 20 years, until Flatt & Scruggs broke up in 1969. In fact, they had been booked to appear at the high school on March 7 of ’69, but when concertgoers arrived, they found The Osborne Brothers on stage as a last minute replacement. Though Lester and Earl didn’t announced the dissolution of their partnership until March 11, they had already parted ways and would not perform together again.
But Cleo kept the bluegrass going at Sandy Ridge, which continue to this day. He’ll miss the 2016 show later this month when Rich In Tradition and Alan Bibey & Grasstowne appear at the school on March 19.
Folks in Stokes County referred to Lemons as The Music Man for all he did to promote bluegrass in his home region. He had continued to promote shows in the area until about 6 years ago.
He is also remembered for his love of baseball, and managed the Sandy Ridge baseball team for many years.
Funeral services are scheduled for tomorrow, March 8 at 11:00 a.m. at Delta United Methodist Church in Sandy Ridge. The family will receive friends this evening from 6:00-8:00 p.m.at the church.
R.I.P., Cleo Lemons.