This appeal for the inclusion of Jake Tullock in the Bluegrass Hall of Fame comes from Barry Bales, bass player with The Earls Of Leicester. Barry plays the part of Cousin Jake on stage several times each week in the Earls’ Flatt & Scruggs tribute show, and recognizes the value of his contribution to bluegrass better than most of us.
Bass players can be a sensitive bunch. Maybe it’s an inverse result of the physical callouses we have built up over the years honing our craft. Maybe we just have a heightened sense of awareness from spending all that time at the back of the stage, keeping watch over all that unfolds in front of us. Whatever it is, it cannot be denied that we are oftentimes under-appreciated or overlooked outright. Routinely a writer or radio DJ will mention the names of Bill Monroe, Lester Flatt, Earl Scruggs and Chubby Wise, while leaving out Howard Watts. Or speak glowingly of J.D. Crowe, Tony Rice, Ricky Skaggs and Jerry Douglas, with no mention of Bobby Slone. The same goes for the Bluegrass Album Band, with Todd Phillips often the recipient of the literary cold shoulder. I’m sure this is never done out of intentional ill will or disdain for any of the players. And truth be told, most of us bass players are happy to lurk in the shadows anyhow. By our very nature, we do not seek the limelight.
But there is one glaring case of omission that does need to be rectified, and hopefully soon. It’s my hope that the great English P. “Cousin Jake” Tullock will get his due and be elected to the IBMA Hall of Fame this September. It’s time. I’m not going to list Jake’s accomplishments or qualifications here. In my mind, there is no need to make a case for him. He did that in spades 50-plus years ago. Anybody that is reading this knows the name and legacy of Cousin Jake. I feel I simply need to point out another list of names – a very important list – that is unintentionally incomplete. Lester Flatt. Earl Scruggs. Curly Seckler. Josh Graves. Paul Warren. The Foggy Mountain Boys did the work, put in the miles, passed the hours, and changed the world. All side-by-side, shoulder-to-shoulder. Including Jake Tullock. And that’s the way they should be honored for what they gave us. Together.