David Parmley announces his retirement

David Parmley, surely among the most iconic bluegrass vocalists of his generation, has announced his retirement.

In good health at age 60, David says that he feels that it’s time for him to step aside from the music, and focus on other passions in his life.

David has been involved in bluegrass music since he was 17 years of age, singing lead and playing guitar with The Bluegrass Cardinals, a group that included his father, Don, on banjo, and Randy Graham on mandolin. Their powerful vocal trio set a standard for our music that many feel has yet to be matched.

The biggest draw for the Cardinals, though, was David’s rich, baritone voice – soulful and evocative – that was especially effective on sorrowful ballads like 32 Acres and Wake Up. Parmley toured with the band until the early ’90s when he moved to Nashville to try his hand at the commercial country market. Before long, David was back in bluegrass in a partnership with banjo player Scott Vestal called Continental Divide. When Vestal left in ’98, David kept the group together off and on until 2012 when he accepted a job driving tour buses for other performers, and doing bus maintenance.

But the bluegrass bug drew blood again, and Parmley was back again in 2015, this time with a new group, Cardinal Tradition, that performed a mix of classic bluegrass and the best of the deep Bluegrass Cardinals repertoire from the early days.

David says that he would like to thank all the fans who have supported him, along with the promoters who have booked him through the years. He would also like to thank all the great musicians who have shared their talents and supported him through his musical journey.

“I will cherish the memories and friendships I’ve made traveling with the Bluegrass Cardinals, Continental Divide, and Cardinal Tradition. I plan on pursuing other interests, spending more time with family, and crossing things off my bucket list.”

Bluegrass fans of every stripe will miss seeing and hearing David on the circuit, but he has left a rich catalog of recorded music we can enjoy forever.

Farewell and well done to a legend, who has enjoyed a Hall of Fame career. There won’t be another like him.

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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.