This coming Friday, Christmas Day, bluegrass legend Curly Seckler will celebrate his 90th birthday.
Another reason for Seckler to celebrate is the forthcoming 75th anniversary as a professional musician, a milestone accomplished by very few.
Seckler was born in 1919 in China Grove, North Carolina. He began his musical career on WSTP radio in Salisbury, North Carolina, in 1935, in a family band called the Yodeling Rangers. He performed in pioneering bluegrass bands with Charlie Monroe, Dan Bailey, Mac Wiseman, The Stanley Brothers, Jim & Jesse McReynolds and The Sauceman Brothers
However, Seckler is best known for his 12 years as a member of Lester Flatt & Earl Scruggs’ Foggy Mountain Boys. During his tenure with them he played mandolin and sang tenor on well over 100 of their greatest recordings, including Why Don‘t You Tell Me So, Take Me In Your Lifeboat, I Never Shed Another Tear, Why Did You Wander?, I’ll Take The Blame and Heaven. After Flatt and Scruggs parted ways, Seckler joined Lester Flatt’s Nashville Grass and following Flatt’s death in 1979, he took over leadership of the group for another 15 years, headlining at bluegrass festivals across the country.
In 1994, at age 74, Seckler disbanded the Nashville Grass and ceased full-time touring. However he continued to write songs, to record and to perform at selected events.
In 2004 Seckler was inducted into the IBMA (International Bluegrass Music Association) Hall of Fame. Rather than resting on his laurels, Seckler was inspired by that honor to embark upon a career resurgence of sorts. At age 84 he made a series of new recordings and began performing again at bluegrass festivals, concert halls and on radio and television. His recent performances have included MerleFest, Hardly Strictly Bluegrass Festival, IBMA’s Fan Fest and Awards Show, the River of Music Party in Owensboro, Kentucky, the Song of the Mountains TV show, UNC-TV’s North Carolina People show and Ernest Tubb Records’ Midnite Jamboree on WSM radio.
Plans are underway for a series of events in 2010 to commemorate Seckler’s long and illustrious career. Watch for details coming soon.
Meanwhile those who want to help make Seckler’s 90th birthday his best ever can send birthday greetings in one of two ways:
c/o Penny Parsons Co.
PO Box 51605
Durham, North Carolina, 27717
Photos from Seckler’s birthday party will be posted on his web site in January.
Merry Christmas and Happy Birthday to a true bluegrass legend!